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Cyber Citizen Shockman 3: A Princess from Another World review — A charming and fun, but often frustrating retro experience

Having grown up in the late 80s and 90s, I have a soft spot for outrageously hard, borderline impossible, NES and SNES period video games. Cyber Citizen Shockman 3: A Princess from Another World certainly fits snugly into that category, offering a wild retro ride through a series of increasingly chaotic levels during its brief campaign. Unfortunately the combat leaves much to be desired, preventing the game from ever reaching the lofty heights of retro classics.

I must admit that I am not familiar with the Cyber Citizen Shockman series, though judging by the bonus section of this game which includes a video dedicated to fan art, it must be quite popular. Thankfully, prior knowledge of the series is unnecessary to enjoy this adventure. The story is simple, as expected for any side-scrolling game from this era, and begins with our heroes Kyapiko (Sonya) and Tasuke (Arnold) relaxing on the beach and enjoying some much-needed time off. Suddenly a large spaceship heads toward their town, piloted by a Princess with a mission to restore the Gaian people back to their full power. Our heroes quickly transform into their Shockman personas and head off to thwart her plan. Along the way they encounter far more than expected when one of the Princess’s cartoony goons decides to unleash Gash, a demonic force held captive for two hundred years, and raises the stakes significantly. While the story won’t win any points for originality, it does provide ample opportunity for varying landscapes and enemies, and is told through fun and often goofy cutscenes, which are fully voice acted and translated.

As for the gameplay, anybody who has played an early 90s video game will immediately feel at home. The controls are simple: press square to attack, hold in square to unleash a charged attack which shoots an orb, or press triangle to continuously attack via turbo mode. Aside from that all you do is continuously move to the right of the screen, hacking away at increasingly outrageous enemies, and jumping over or dodging progressively difficult terrain. To switch things up a bit, you do have the choice to play as either Sonya or Arnold, though ultimately both control the same, or to tackle the game via couch co-op in a local 2-player mode.

Unfortunately, the fun of the game is countered by its brutal difficultly. For every simple enemy or boss Cyber Citizen Shockman 3 throws at you, there’s usually a wildly difficult boss, enemy, or platforming section which proves to be more tedious than anything, leading to frustrating deaths. Bosses are the worst offender, with many having difficult to dodge attacks and small hit boxes, essentially forcing you to take damage to deal damage. This effectively prevents any real strategy of attack from forming. To counter immediate death during these fights, basic enemies do drop items which when collected will eventually provide you with an extra life, though far too few extra lives are obtainable throughout the campaign. I’m fine with difficulty which can be surpassed with dedication and skill, but often Cyber Citizen Shockman 3’s difficulty feels insurmountable, mostly due to a basic attack which requires close range combat, bosses with far reaching attacks and large health pools, and wonky controls.

Still, despite all my complaints, I found myself enjoying Cyber Citizen Shockman 3, particularly once I swallowed my pride and allowed myself to use the handy built-in cheat system which can make you invincible, allow bosses to be beaten with only one hit, and more. Using cheats is a great way to see the entire game without much frustration and to learn attack patterns of bosses before heading back to face them cheat-free.

Aside from cheats, Cyber Citizen Shockman 3 also contains a gallery which showcases character art, the original manual – unfortunately not translated to English, and the original CD artwork, along with the aforementioned bonus video which showcases fan art. There is also the ability to play the original 1992 untranslated release, though there is not enough difference between the original and updated game versions to recommend playing through both versions for any reason aside from sheer curiosity.

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Richard Allen is a freelance writer and contributing editor for various publications. While he enjoys modern gaming, he is a retro gamer at heart, having been raised on a steady diet of Contra, Mario, and Dragon's Lair.  Chat with him via @thricetheartist on Twitter.

65

Alright

Cyber Citizen Shockman 3: A Princess From Another World

Review Guidelines

Cyber Citizen Shockman 3 is fun at times, mainly thanks to its goofy sense of humor and fun cutscenes and characters, though the basic hack and slash combat paired with inconsistent and often brutal difficulty grows stale quickly. Still, the levels are varied, ranging from city skylines and industrial buildings to demonic underground lairs, and the ever-changing enemies help keep the player’s attention throughout its seven short levels. Cheats and bonuses help provide a bit more bang for the buck, but for only $6, there’s enough here to justify picking this game up and killing an hour or two.

Richard Allen

Unless otherwise stated, the product in this article was provided for review purposes.

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