Cybernoid 1: The Fighting Machine logo

SPACE pirates have been pillaging the Federation's storage depot and made off with assorted jewels, minerals, ammunition and the very latest fashions in battle weaponry. It is your task to take a Cybernoid battlecruiser to get the pirates with their plunder. All recovered treasure within a level must be returned to the depot, Fail to return the booty within the allotted time and you will lose one of your six ships. The faster you complete the task, the higher your score - and you will gain an extra ship.

Cybernoid originally appeared on 8 bit micros and was designed by Raffaelle Cecco, author of several earlier and successful games. This conversion for the Amiga has been expertly handled by Tony Cooper.

The game opens with an attractive title screen and a strong theme tune, courtesy of Gary Knight. There are few options. Well, there is only one actually - sound effects on or sound effects off. The game is joystick driven and single player only.

There is an opening feature which I have never seen before. Holding down both mouse buttons while on the credits screen and moving the mouse up or down allows you to position the picture vertically. Saves messing around with your vertical adjustment controls.

Your Cybernoid craft begins its mission in the first chamber of the pirate stronghold. The small, chubby ship moves swiftly and responsively to the joystick. It needs to. Alien craft and a host of defence mechanisms are out to destroy you.

A display at the top of the screen shows the number of Cybernoids remaining, score, value of cargo recovered on the level, the current weapon mode, quantity possessed and maximum allowable, with remaining time available shown as a bar chart.

As well as firing forward, the Cybernoid has additional attack capabilities. Weapon modes are changed by pressing function keys. These give you bombs (for wiping out large defence emplacements), impact mines (seed them strategically so that pirates smack into them), defence shields (giving short-term invincibility), bouncing bombs (blue blobs à la Arkanoid and seekers (homing missiles).

While this range of weaponry does at least give you a reasonable chance of survival against the opposition, it is no easy matter keeping one eye on the screen while trying to pick out the desired key. Fumbling for or stabbing at the top row of your Amiga keyboard is bound to be the order of the day.

When an enemy craft is destroyed it sheds its booty. Flying over the treasure gathers it into your hold. Occasionally a destroyed ship will drop a yellow canister, and this increments the quantity of your currently selected weapon.

Some dropped objects will alter the external characteristics of your Cybernoid, a vital element for the more difficult screens.

I found it a little too tough to play. Timing and speed is all, and if, like me, you have not got either of those in spades, you might well find this game to be the cause of a lot of carpet biting. But then many players like their challenges to come hard.

Cybernoid is great to look at. Colourful and imaginative graphics with smooth animation make it a real treat. One disappointment is that there is no continuous scrolling, vertical or horizontal or when you reach an exit, the screen flicks to the new location. Aurally, too, the game is pretty good - nothing amazing but plenty of appropriate spot effects. While it breaks no new ground, Cybernoid is very handsomely presented with quite superior graphical effects. So give it a whirl.

Cybernoid 1: The Fighting Machine logo CU Amiga Screen Star

Price: £19.95

Following hot in the vapour trails of Zynaps, comes Hewson's latest Amiga product, the conversion of the classic Spectrum shoot 'em up, Cybernoid.

Originally designed by Raffaelle Cecco, Cybernoid follows the fate of a lone mercenary pilot sent by the Federation to retrieve valuable minerals, jewels and weaponry stolen by marauding space pirates.

Strapped into the high-tech fighter Cybernoid, the pilot begins his mission in the pirates' subterranean fortress, which is set over 150 flick-screen locations. Each screen presents its own brand of danger including massive gun emplacements, alien growths gobbing out missiles, and, of course, pirate ships with guns a-blazin'.

The Cybernoid is armed with a single blaster, and once up the exhaust port is enough to scupper any flimsy old pirate ships in the vicinity. In fact, the renegade spacers would have been better off sitting in the cargo containers, since these survive the blast and fall to the ground intact. The goodies contained therein are simply collected on contact with the Cybernoid, and stored in the hold, ready to be sent back to the Federation.

Stolen weaponry and ammunition packs are scattered through the caverns and are similarly collected to boost the Cybernoid's armoury.

In addition to blasters, the Cybernoid also boasts bombs, impact mines, defence shields, bouncing bombs and seeker missiles, which are selected via the function keys and initiated by holding down the fire button. This array of doom can be supplemented by collecting a rear-facing blaster and up to three rotating multiples, which are extremely attractive to look at, and particularly effective against anything stupid enough to get in their way.

At the end of each level, special weapon depots appear whereupon the Cybernoid lands in safety and the valuables collected so far are beamed back to the Federation. If enough valuables have been gathered, an extra Cybernoid ship is awarded; if not, the pilot has to battle with his remaining stock of hardware.

This Amiga incarnation offers more for the incompetent amongst us, in that it is a LOT easier to play - but do not worry: to make up for this apparent deficit, Hewson assure me that the fourth level is a pig! And it is around 80 screens long, providing more than enough game to keep most Cyberfans blasting well into the early hours.

On the aesthetic side, Cybernoid is not quite as impressive as it should have been. The background graphics are a bit repetitive, and some of the sprites are unimaginative to say the least. Still, there are some decent sampled sound effects to add to the atmosphere and, more importantly, the gameplay has been tweaked just the right amount. The earlier eight-bit faults have been ironed out and Cybernoid now provides even more of a challenge than did its inspiration. It has certainly had more than its fair share of attention in the office this month. Now then, where is Cybernoid II?

Even more playable than the 64 version! Waaah!

Cybernoid 1: The Fighting Machine logo Zzap! Sizzler

Hewson, £19.99 disk

You are the kind of person that lives on the edge; living for danger, excitement and money. In fact as much money as possible. In other words, you're a mercenary, OK?

All is not well within the Federation at the current time. Now under normal circumstances this would not bother you in the slightest, but when you discover that the Federation are offering a great sum of money for a pilot to fly a special mission, how can you refuse?

Only after agreeing to the mission, you discover the nature of the troubles and your involvement in the affair. Pirates have invaded several Federation depots stealing precious jewels and supplies, setting off all the automatic defence systems in the process. You must jet off to the depots and shut down the defence systems, destroying pirates and collecting treasure as you go.

The depots' defences are extremely efficient and could knock the nuts off a fly at ten yards away. Also, they're not averse to removing parts of mercenary pilots and will hurl all sorts of death at you. Luckily you have the power to fight back. You are flying Cybernoid - the ultimate fighting machine!

Readily at your disposal you have lasers (standard guns), bombs (single-shot, can be launched upwards or downwards), mines (hang in the air and destroy pirates that touch them), bouncing bombs (a set of four bombs that bounce off walls blasting everything they touch), seeker missiles (home in on the nearest large target) and a shield for getting out of tricky situations). All these (with the exception of lasers) are limited, but can be replenished by picking up pods on the way. Watch out, too, for the extra weapons such as circling drones and tailguns, which can be automatically retro-fitted to your ship by way of the everything-compatible FWF (Federation Weapon Frame).

On reaching the first depot, you realise that the pirates have developed a 'shield and cloak' device to protect them from the Federation Defence systems, so it's completely up to you to blast them away. Another effect of these devices is to cause the defence drones to attack you, since you are the only possible target they can locate. You've got to destroy them before they destroy you.

Shooting pirate ships causes them to drop their cargo of jewels and precious items, ready for you to pick up. If you manage to pick up enough treasure and shut down the systems, you can teleport the treasure to Federation headquarters. The Federation chiefs will consider that they have regained enough to cut their losses and run, so you are given a credit bonus and a new ship to spare, ready to jet off to the next depot. But be warned, this time the pirates will have alerted their allies, and they're ready for just about anything - even a rough, tough macho kinda guy like you...

Gordon 'Captain Porko' Houghton I didn't think it possible, but Hewson's Amiga conversion of Cybernoid is even better than the 64! If there was anything wrong with the 8-bit versions it was the difficulty level, which led to many hours of hair-tearing frustration and monitors almost being kicked in. This, however, is just right - the tight spaces aren't quite as tight and the alien bullets are more easily avoided. That's not to say it's not tough - apart from the fact that there are almost twice as many screens, the aliens swarm onto the screen trying to kick seven shades of sunshine out of you right from the start. Hewson are keeping up their record of quality games with a couple of superb conversions this month - if you can stump up the cash, buy both.
Maff 'Flash' Evans I am afraid to say that I didn't agree with the original ZZAP! Review of the 64 Cybernoid, because it was just too difficult to be playable. Now Hewson have released the Amiga version and not only are the sound and graphics better, the gameplay has been much improved. It's actually possible to complete! The sprites and background are very colourful, with some marvellous use of shading, and the amount of sprites on screen gives a frenetic feel. The sound's really good too, but it's a little on the sparse side - the odd tune or two wouldn't go amiss. Grumbling aside, Cybernoid is an excellent 16-bit conversion, greatly improving on the 64 incarnation. Buy it today! Unless, of course you haven't got any money or the shops are shut or they haven't got it in or... (give over! - Ed).
Paul 'Hard Man' Glancy I really liked the 64 version of Cybernoid, as you may have seen in the review, but I have to say that the Amiga version is better. The graphics are better, being more of a representation of the ships on the original packaging. The sprites are also smaller, giving you a much less claustrophobic feeling. The sound is well implemented, but I would have liked to have heard more effects implemented or failing that some music. The playability has been enhanced, due to the increased playing area and easier to pass aliens, meaning that you'll come back to the game more often. Plus there are more levels on the Amiga version! How's that for value for money! No? Oh, suit yourself then...