The Turbo Grafx-16 library was woefully inadequate in many genres. It had its share of platformers and my god did It have shooters. But side scrolling beat ‘em ups were a rarity, at least in the US. To be fair Japan didn’t fare that much better either. The US desperately needed more games but average titles like this wisely stayed behind. Cyber Cross is a generic brawler and simply not good. Calling it generic is a bit harsh. Cyber Cross pays homage to the Tokusatsu genre of super hero TV shows. Your young protagonist can change into masked hero form with three color variants but that is all the game has going for it. While the pickings are slim there are better titles in the genre to pick up.
Your mild mannered hero is armed with a series of punches and kicks as his only means of defense. There are no secondary weapons in your base form and you’ll want to spend as little time like this. When you start you have only a modicum of health. Once your life bar passes a certain amount you’ll automatically change into your sentai form. You’ll remain in this form until your health dips too low but the game is generous with its health power-ups.
Your sentai form is…..not all that different from a regular Joe. Your attacks are stronger but you’ll only notice this during boss battles. You can charge a meter to perform one of two moves: a spin kick or a short range fireball. Neither one are all that useful for a number of reasons. The spin kick locks you in place while the fireball is…yeah. The few times you would actually want to use either move are when you are surrounded, at which point you are better off running away.
The main reason to stay transformed outside of being more powerful is a further power-up. In hero form there is an item that will transform you into an armored, weapon wielding bad ass. Depending on your color you can wield a sword (red), boomerang (green), or a gun (blue). This is the way the game is meant to be played although it has its limits. Initially you can only take three hits before losing your weapon but by the end that is expanded to five. These moments make a staid game at least bearable.
I’ve painted a pretty damning picture of Cyber Cross so far and it really doesn’t get any better. The game is full of brain dead enemies who run at you in a straight line. Every so often they might mix it up with bees or jumping frogmen but you’ll see the same two or three in every level. If there were interesting level design to break up the monotony of facing the same guy repeatedly it would be one thing. But each stage is a straight line with the occasional raised second level platform to avoid combat. The bosses are cheesy and charming like the shows the game is inspired by. But no amount of charm can save a lackluster product.
Mercifully Cyber Cross is short at five stages. I should say at least the first four levels. The fifth and final level is an ungodly long mess that takes every single problem with the game and dials it up to eleven. The number of enemies becomes ridiculous, power-ups become scarce and there’s even a boss rush thrown in. The little bit of platforming in this final stage is just as bad as you would imagine; imprecise and a chore with the stiff controls.
I haven’t even mentioned the best part! You have a single life with no continues to complete the entire game. Most won’t have a problem reaching the last level but from there it becomes clear this was designed by amateurs. Any semblance of balance is thrown out the window and the game becomes completely not fun. I can’t fathom anyone being willing to play through this entire mediocre game if they die just to reach an unsatisfying conclusion.
Cyber Cross fails at being interesting on every level. It’s ugly, repetitive, and just plain boring. If you must have your sentai thrills Choujin Sentai Jetman for the Famicom is far better. The only faint praise I can give it is that it laid the ground work for its much improved sequel.