Mine splits in two!

Cytron logo

Psygnosis * £25.99 * 1 meg * joystick * Out now

It's a long time since anyone has had the bottle to put a game of this ilk out. Tank games of this sort are ten a penny on the budget market but they get very boring quickly.
But if you are like me and have an eternally open mind (cough cough) then you can appreciate that such products as this have a very basic idea to them.

At first sight Cytron looks like a pretty poor effort. In the ever-expanding world of computer graphics it is very rare nowadays that you get a game with less than average graphics from a company as big as Psygnosis. Rampart is the only other game that has been released recently that I can say would do well in spite of the pretty poor graphics.

Your mission is to pilot Cytron, a freshly developed multi-use tank with more weapons than a big, well-armed thing, around a research centre saving scientists. Cytron's main gimmick is its ability to divide itself into smaller and more manoeuvrable craft with even more silly weapons for you to start blitzing the inhabitants with.

You infiltrate a secret research base and rescue the humans trapped there by the mechanical workforce that has basically thrown a wobbler.

Unless you get in there soon the machines are really going to go bananas. To prevent these mechanoid menaces doing any more damage, once you have rescued as many people as possible an automatic destruct sequence is activated, so if you don't get out in time you go up with it.

The humans are pretty easy to find but they don't seem to show any intelligence at all which I found a bit disappointing. They will just walk until they reach a wall and then keep on going, getting nowhere fast.

The mad mechanoid workforce which you are up against is pretty formidable to say the least. Stormers, Bouncers, Assassins, plus supporting cast each with their own little quirks that make it a real challenge.

None of the opposition is anything new to arcade games of this sort but the sheer volume makes u for the lack of originality. Generally they aren't much of a problem but they certainly don't give themselves up for easy cannon fodder - they usually move like excrement off a red hot shove, and Cytron is not the most manoeuvrable of vehicles.

One rather irritating aspect is the enemy robots called Assassins which are pretty deadly and look very similar to the humans you pick up.

If you remember that you are up against a time limit and most of the time are travelling at breakneck speed, you don't have enough time to take in the physical characteristics of each sprite so quite often you find yourself getting stuffed by the Assassins.

As you travel around the several levels, the first thing that strikes you is the smoothness of the scrolling - it is quite awesome. Next are the sound effects - the various booms, blams and blaps are really satisfying as well as the atmospheric sounds that are thrown in for good measure.

One thing that is cropping up more and more in games nowadays is an interactive in-game computer. The first one I ever saw was on Alien Breed where you could change weapons and buy keys and so on.

It's pretty much the same on Cytron - you can upgrade your weapons depending on how much ammo you have and on the more tricky levels you can get plan view of the level to find out where you are and how to get round it.
The individual ships have their own weapons - choose either a bomb launcher or a laser - - and these can be individually upgraded if you need something with a little extra umff behind it.

Cytrn's a breath of fresh air after the recent spate of adventure-type games. A good shoot-em-up combined with a bit of a puzzle.

Cytron logo

Psygnosis * £29.99

This is a game of the overhead perspective variety, similar to Paradroid, with you controlling a dinky little tank. The object is to rescue scientists from an establishment where the local robot workforce has gone mad. The interesting thing about Cytron is that you can split the tank into two parts. You then control one of these smaller tanks while the other waits in a cocoon. This makes for some unusual puzzles as sometimes you have to split up to fit through the smaller passageways.

The programmers have put some thought into the control system and come up with four different methods - one joystick or two joysticsk and one mouse or two mice. The two joystick control mode is the best (one joystick controls movement, the other direction of fire, like the arcade version of Smash TV).

The game uses the full screen and scrolls smoothly. IT is fun to play in short bursts, but can become repetitive.

Die Robby-Lobby

Cytron logo

Mit ungewohnter Zurückhaltung hat Psygnosis heimlich, still und leise dieses Game in der Tradition von "Alien Breed" veröffentlicht. Komisch, denn schämen brauchen sich die Liverpooler dafür eigentlich nicht...

Wie bei der Alienbrut hat man auch hier das grundsätzliche Spielprinzip vom Arcade-Oldy "Gauntlet" entliehen, bloß werden im Labyrinth nun anstatt von Fantasymonstern fiese Roboter beharkt. Nebenbei gilt es, ein bißchen Menschenretter zu spielen, wozu man einen Blechkameraden übernimmt.

Als solcher kann man sich bei Bedarf sogar zweiteilen, was vor allem in engen Passagen hilfreich ist, die der "Voll-Robbi" seiner Größe wegen nicht betreten könnte. Unser Maschinchen ist mit einer Pumpgun ausgestattet, kann Extras aufsammeln und an Terminals Waffen, Energie oder, soweit es das Portermonnaie zuläßt, Informationen über den momentanen Level dazukaufen.

Gut so, denn die Gemäuer sind in Etagen aufgeteilt und durch Teleporter verbunden, so daß die Orientierung leicht verloren geht. Gegner sind dagegen vergleichsweise schwach vertreten; gerade mal 11 verschiedene Feindgattungen (Panzer, Droiden etc.) haben wir gezählt.

Trotzdem ist Cytron kein langweiler, denn reine Ballerstages sind selten, meist ist auch Denkarbeit vonnöten, um über Schalter und Förderbänder in den nächsten Abschnitt zu gelangen. Die Grafik wird dort allerdings auch nicht schöner - einzig das turboschnelle Acht-Wege-Scrolling begeistert, ansonsten geht's optisch und akustisch eher unspektakulär zu.

Besser ist da schon das Intro gelungen, und auch die Steuerung führt in jeder nur denkbaren Variante (ein oder zwei Sticks, Maus etc.) sicher durchs Spiel. Für Labyrinth-Fans hat Cytron durchaus seine Qualitäten. (rl)

Cytron logo

A rash of robot games this month. The first involves a good deal of skidding around and shooting.

Well, it is exactly the same as Paradroid 90 really, isn't it? Metallic scrolling mazes, zip around them in a little robot thing, shoot lots of baddies and log on to a funny computer thing every now and again and faff around a bit.

Looks pretty conclusive from where I am sitting. Ah, but hang on a minute - there is a twist! (Nope, it is no use, I am not going to be able to keep up this feigned enthusiasm). In Cytron, as well as running around a scrolling metallic maze in a little robot thing shooting bad guys, you can, er, split up your little robot thing into TWO, even littler, robot things, with which you, um, run around the scrolling metallic mazes and, er, shoot bad guys. Oh, that is all right then.

After so much innovation from Psygnosis, it is a little disturbing to see them not only releasing stuff this simple and retrogressive, but pricing it at the 'premium' £30 mark. Cytron is, essentially, a cut-down version of a game three years old.

It is quite good fun, there is nothing really wrong with it, but why bother? There is already something almost exactly the same but better out there, who in their right mind is going to fork out 30 quid on this? Still, on with the review, eh?

Good old fashioned fun

Cytron is actually a sort of cross between Paradroid 90 and Robosport, in as much as that you have to save lots of little scientists who can be found lying around in the various mazes that make up the game's levels. To get to some of them (or just to progress through the level), you will sometimes have to split your Cytron robot into two smaller ones called (ahem) Cyt and Ron. Up all night thinking of that one, yeah?

These have the advantage of being able to fit through tiny gaps and reach areas which are otherwise inaccessible, which is a nice idea, although in practice it mostly just means a lot of fairly pointless faffing around as you get to a narrow section, split your robot up, move one little bit through, move the other little bit through and join them up again.

The game positively bulges with other stuff (weapons upgrades, clever ways to control your robots with joystick, 'locking joystick', mouse, two joysticks, two mice, and probably your TV's remote as well, power-ups that make you invisible or cause all the scientists on a level to home in on you, doors and barriers that have to be switched on and off, and all manner of clever stuff that you can do with the computer terminals littered around each level), but it is only window dressing - 95% of the time you will be zipping around shooting everything you can see, and that is about it.

A sort of cross between Paradroid 90 and Robosport

Unfortunately, for the duration of that 95% of the time, you will be zipping around shooting entirely the wrong things and zipping in entirely the wrong direction, thanks (but no thanks) to the, um, over-enthusisastic control response of your little robot things. It is extremely inertia-heavy (well, actually, come to think of it, it is not. Inertia means it is hard to make it stop, but in Cytron the control is more just plain frictionless - one touch on the stick sends your robot lurching off at great speed, and it takes a fair bit of persuading to make it skid to a halt again), and in the default single-joystick mode that, let us face it, most people will be using, you have to move your robot in a direction before you can fire that way.

Nothing wrong with that in itself, but with the tight design of many of the game's levels and the aforementioned lurching movement, you will spend more time simply ramming your enemies than you do shooting them. Still, some people like that kind of thing - look at Kick Off 2 (Oh no, not again - Ed).

Still, let us be fair and conscientiously list all the game's good points and mitigating factors, despite the fact that it won't make the slightest difference to the final mark, on the grounds that a game should be judged on whether it entertains you and makes you feel good, regardless of any technical considerations. No, on second thoughts, let us not bother, eh?


Logging on to one of the computer terminals grants you access to a whole world of fun, with the aid of which you can just about convince yourself that you are actually doing something intellectually demanding.

The first options screen. Note also the vertical bar at the right-hand side - it shows how much longer you will be allowed to muck around with the computer terminal before being automatically logged off.
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Initially you are armed with only two weapons (a laser and a grenade launcher), but collecting weapon tokens will permit you to load up with more impressive hardware. Some weapons can only be used by one of the two little robots, whereas some require them to be joined together as Cytron before they can be operated.
Well, it is your status, really, isn't it?
This lets you distribute your energy supply between your two little robots, so that, for example, if one is sitting safely in a corner somewhere with a full tank and the other one is nearly dead, you can switch some energy between them (well, as long as they are both logged into terminals, that is). You also have a reserve tank, for which you can collect energy as you go through the levels.
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Much of the security menu is off-limits until you collect various passes, but with full access you can see a floor plan of the current level, pinpoint the position of any scientist, detect any enemies that you have somehow neglected to shoot so far, turn the lights of (it makes it harder for the enemy robots to hunt you down), stop the level self-destruct which is initiated when certain enemy robots spot you, and throw switches in the level at will to open doors and reverse conveyor belts and all kinds of clever stuff like that.

Cytron logo

Psygnosis £25.99

Take the good old classic Paradroid. Throw in a few touches of Gauntlet. Shrink the graphics a bit. Remove a fair chunk of playability. Give it a snazzy intro. Now what do you have? - Cytron from Psygnosis, another title that proves that fancy presentation doesn't make for a great game.

On loading, you are given a quick piece of Psygnosis graphical brilliance, as a ray-traced robot - a mini-tank - rolls along a corridor, spots a couple of flying patrol drones and blasts them out of the sky. It looks like this could be something special. Then you load the game itself, and realise that once again your hopes are to be dashed. Cytron casts you as a solo combat droid, out to save the lives of hundreds of scientists trapped in a research laboratory where the other robots have gone slightly mad and are attacking everything in sight. Yes, it's exactly the same as Mindscape's D-Generation, only not as polished.

Cytron is a well designed little fellow. Not only can he stand tall as an all-round battle machine, he can also split into two more specialised characters. Cyt and Ron are called into action on levels where multiple actions need to be performed in sequence, such as switches switched and doors opened, so the two can be sent their separate ways to co-ordinate actions and save the humans.

It all scrolls around quickly, responds instantly and generally is quite playable. The real problem is that it isn't very inspiring. The small graphics have little or no character to them, and after 10 minutes of tedious blasting I was beginning to get very bored with it indeed. A simple idea, but one that has been done so many times that it just isn't worth playing.