Oh God... not (yet) another Commodore 64 shooter. You can count the number of "shoot 'em up's" that have been produced for this legendary 8-bit machine on about, ooh, a thousand hands. If you include duff games created using Sensible Software's Shoot 'Em Up Construction Kit (SEUCK), then that number would appear to increase exponentially. Actually, if you search for "shoot" games on the Gamebase64 website, it will return 3156 entries! But wait. This brand new game is actually pretty damn good!! I insist you read on...
Developed by 8-bit stalwarts Cosine Systems, Cyberwing is a vertically scrolling space shooter. Apparently, so the story goes, alien type scum have destroyed human colonies on their march towards Earth. It's up to you to make the perilous journey to Earth in your remote controlled Cyberwing Mk 3 Mid-Range Fighter (armed only with standard issue plasma cannons and "particle disseminator destructors") and warn of the impending danger, taking out as many enemy craft as possible on the way.
Gameplay is extremely straightforward. Use your joystick to move your spacecraft around the screen, whilst avoiding the scenery and enemy bullets. Destroy absolutely everything that moves with your cannons, which are activated by pressing the fire button or use a smart bomb weapon to destroy everything on the screen simultaneously by pressing the spacebar. Begin with three lives, but earn extra as you progress and in the meantime, rack up as many points as possible.
Cyberwing is well presented; a vibrantly shaded Cyberwing logo, hi-score table, credits, scrolling message (containing the game story and obligatory hellos) and an option for choosing in-game music or sound effects, makes up the title screen. Add to this simple but melodic title music and already you have something more entertaining than many shooters out there, old or new.
Pressing fire starts the game. In all honesty, I prefer the "heroic" sounding start tune and accompanying militaristic-sounding in-game tune, than the somewhat limp sound effects. The game graphics are well drawn overall, ultra smooth scrolling backdrops escort slickly animated enemy "ships", which swirl around the play area effortlessly in easy to remember, but occasionally tricky-to-avoid patterns. Everything hangs together superbly; the difficulty curve is set to a suitable level and, most importantly for a game of this type in my opinion, the collision detection between objects is generous in your favour. How many times before, when playing other space shooters, have you felt aggrieved by the fact that the bullet of your enemy clearly missed your spaceship by at least two pixels and yet your vessel joyfully exploded into a zillion tiny pieces? No such problem exists in Cyberwing! All is fair in this game. Your craft can even venture over a few pixels of landscape without any fear of being destroyed! Delightful!
I remember, back in the heyday of 8-bit machines, using my pocket money and paper round wages to buy Mastertronic and Code Masters games by the bucket load. Sure, they were sometimes less than average in quality, but you couldn't really complain for less than two quid! That was 15 to 20 years ago. This is today and at £1.99 on tape or disk from ever expanding publisher Cronosoft, Cyberwing represents great value for money! It easily holds it's own against mature classics such as Hades Nebula, Terra Cresta and Lazer Force, in fact, in many areas it betters them. Admittedly, Cyberwing doesn't score very highly on the cerebral-o-meter, but for straight forward, mindless, blasting fun, it fits the bill perfectly. Thankfully, it also provides a decent challenge. Don't try to make something similar, yet inferior, in SEUCK by yourself; do your Commodore 64 game collection a favour and get Cyberwing today.