In my review for the first Cyber Citizen Shockman game, I commended Ratalaika Games for porting over games that had previously never been released outside of Japan. The same is true here for Cyber Citizen Shockman 2: A New Menace. But it does that rare thing in video games of being inferior to the original game.
Two years have passed since the events of the first game, and finally Tasuke/Arnold and Kyapiko/Sonya have convinced the professor to turn them back into regular humans. They never asked to be Shockman after all. However, on the way to his lab, they are ambushed by some strange enemies, before a breaking news bulletin interrupts everything. These strange enemies are part of a wider group called the Rhyo Empire, and they’re planning on taking over the world. And they’ve kidnapped the professor, meaning Tasuke and Kyapiko have no choice but to rescue him if they want to be rid of the Shockman enhancements once and for all.
And who is that stranger waltzing around in what appears to be another Shockman outfit?
To give credit where it is due, all this plot information is given to you in-game. For a game released originally in 1992, it is impressive to see the story unfold before you, and not just simply a case of you running from level to level, piecing the plot together from box art and manuals like so many others of that age.
Cyber Citizen Shockman 2: A New Menace gets rid of the melee focus from the first game, and equips both Shockmen with a ranged weapon. It isn’t unlike Mega Man’s Mega Buster or Buzz Lightyear’s arm-mounted laser, firing off a single round at a time. Most enemies require multiple hits however, and their placements are of a tricky nature. Thankfully, once again, there is a cheats menu.
Using the same UI that it has for previous other ports of classic games, there is a cheats menu available. The majority of which do not disable achievements either. As well as the standard invincibility toggle, you can make those pesky bullet sponge bosses one-hit only, and can also assign a button to fire off more rounds in one press.
Take my advice: use all of these. Cyber Citizen Shockman 2 will be a nightmare otherwise. Certain sections are impossible to escape unscathed. You have a generous life bar, but it can easily be whittled away without these cheats. You have no lives either: dying is a one and done thing here.
But maybe you’ll want to leave the one-hit bosses cheat off, because you will otherwise miss some of the most bat-poop crazy boss designs I have ever seen. Apparently, a competition was launched in Japan after the first game for people to design their own bosses for use in the sequel. The winning designs were included, and as a result, there is absolutely no cohesion between them at all. There are some H. R. Giger-esque body horror designs, one bright blue flying enemy that reminds of Dusty Bin from 3-2-1, but with extendable arms, and then a Mayan-inspired one that just jumps all over the place. Utterly barmy, but it is a surprise to simply see what comes next.
But inventive bosses seem to be the limits of Cyber Citizen Shockman 2’s design. The rest of it is very disappointing, particularly compared to the first. The backgrounds are a massive step down from the vistas of the first game; the traditional looking villages replaced by a series of generic looking corridors. The second game takes place primarily on a floating castle off the main-land, but it still looks very drab in comparison.
There is a lot of screen-tearing as well; this is by far a crystal clear port. It is more noticeable when travelling up on lifts. Then there is the way the music clings on to the last note for a few seconds in between the screen fading to black. Once again, the soundtrack is excellent, but these notes don’t sound too good, and it is every single black screen as well, not just once or twice.
Some variation has been added in with the addition of side-scrolling flying levels akin to R-Type games. But there is too much missing from the first game that helped make that better: A world map, upgrades, currency or even level rewards. All that, and the second game is half the length, with only nine levels compared to 18 in the first game.
But does a shorter game make for easier achievements? Well, the first one wasn’t exactly difficult; that was also a Ratalaika Games port after all. In the second game, you can get an achievement for every wacky boss you defeat, but two other achievements are for collecting an item called Bits that enemies will drop. You need two of these for both achievements, but their drop rate appears to be completely randomised. And if you manage to get one, keep hold of it as you need two at the same time.
Lacking the novel concepts of the first game, Cyber Citizen Shockman 2: A New Menace feels very run-of-the-mill as a result. And only by utilising the cheats on offer will you be able to drag yourself through this relatively short game. Sometimes being short isn’t necessarily a bad thing.