From tiny indie team Mechanical Head Studios, we have Cyber Shadow! An 8-bit NES era type 2D platformer.
This is published by Yacht Club Games of Shovel Knight fame and we caught up with the title on Xbox Games Pass. Hurrah!
8-Bit Fun in Cyber Shadow
As the player, you take control of a cybernetic ninja called Shadow. Your mission is to rid the land of evil machines, who’ve kidnapped your clan.
And so, in grand old 8-bit NES fashion, out into the 2D levels you go to kill stuff.
The game launched in early 2021 and got a bit of a fuss as Yacht Club Games is attached to the project. However, remember that’s only due to publishing it.
Cyber Shadow is from Mechanical Head Studios, the work of Aarne Hunziker. Yep, one man made most of the game.
Hunziker was contacted by Yacht Club Studios to join their team and allow them to publish the title. Which, obviously, he agreed to. Although he did have reservations at first.
Anyway, the game. Cyber Shadow!
Straight up, full credit to him for the game’s aesthetics. It’s one of the most beautiful looking retro indie games we’ve seen.
It clearly takes its main inspiration from Ninja Gaiden, the fantastic NES title from 1988.
As a gameplay experience, it’s frenetic stuff. Fast-paced and an emphasis on a lot going on at once. Kind of like a bullet hell romp like Enter the Gungeon.
We’d say its closest modern comparison is The Messenger (2019), which is another brilliant ninja romp spoiled a bit its frustrating nature.
Cyber Shadow has similar issues. It ramps the difficulty level up early on after you learn the ropes and you may need to take a while to adjust to the retro sensibilities.
You can leap about the place from wall to wall, gain power ups, hack, slash, and ninja your way through stages.
The level design is generally strong and the whole retro vibe utterly fantastic.
But we feel the game falls a little short of greatness. It’s often enthralling, but it’s also often a bit of a frustrating chore. Fatigue can hit you as you take on another wave of baddies.
The asking price is high as well, made worse by the short nature of the title.
Helping things along is a fantastic NES-like soundtrack from Enrique Martin. This thing sure is rousing!
Right, so Cyber Shadow isn’t for everyone. But if this type of retro NES jaunt is the love of your life then you’ll love the game.
It’s the type of game you’ll look at and think, “Hell yeah!” Should you wish to play it.
And if you do, you’ll find a creative wonder packed out with impressive attention to detail.
Over the short gaming experience, you’ll have highs and lows. But we think it’s a fine little platformer that largely does its job admirably.