Thursday, 5 May 2016

Played: Spyborgs (Wii)

Format: Wii     Also On: N/A
Developer: Bionic Games    
Publisher: Capcom    
Release: 2009
Progress: Cleared all of the first chapter; had my fill mid-way through chapter 2...

Free is great isn't it? So long as it isn't a bill or the privilege of being passed an infection/virus based illness then free is absolutely king, especially with videogames. There are some games that can spark a vague interest but you still wouldn't want to risk £40 or £50 to see if it was any cop so if you happen to be given a copy for free then its a bit of a result. Case in point: Spyborgs for the Wii. I was very much aware of this Capcom-published action game back when it was first released but my interest wasn't strong enough for me to prioritise purchasing it, especially in the same year that Madworld, House of the Dead Overkill and New Super Mario Bros. Wii (to name just three) hit the shelves. So I forgot about Spyborgs until very recently this year when I was given a copy for nothing. Apparently 2016 was the year that I should finally give Spyborgs a go.

The game is essentially a 3D beat 'em up that takes a few cues from the God of War games. Collecting red orbs to power up abilities and fighting giant bosses that are finished with QTE's certainly reminded me of Sony's series anyway. The player has three cyborg characters to choose from and the choice is decidedly generic it has to be said. The girl is swift but not that strong, the huge robot is slow but powerful and of course, the male cyborg is a bit of an all-rounder. You can play co-operatively or alone, using the '+' button on the remote to flick between the two selected on-screen characters. Progress is fairly linear as you may expect: beat up a load of enemies, move onto the next part of the level, rinse and repeat. Some pieces of scenery can be damaged to release extra red orbs and there are an abundance of crates to smash for health pick-ups and energy for special moves.

It's all a bit orange and brown here. Plus: robots.

And that's it really. The game shoehorns in some motion control though - seemingly - for the sake of it. This comes in the form of pressing 'A' then flicking the remote upwards to uncover invisible crates (was this really necessary?) and performing a few basic swings during the slow-mo special moves. It's all entirely unnecessary but the gestures do at least register very well and there is an amusing example during one of the special moves where you must thrust both the remote and the nunchuck forwards...I felt like uttering "PSYCHO CRUSHAAA!" during this one. Heh. The specials in general are reasonably entertaining to begin with and guarantee an instant kill on non-boss enemies but I had soon seen them all and was bored of swiping the remote to perform them.

Repetition is the main problem with Spyborgs. The game is just smash this, smash that, uncover this invisible switch, smash some more stuff and so on. Now there are a lot of games like this such as the long-running Dynasty/Samurai Warriors series, the previously mentioned God of War and Onechanbara to name just a few. Problem is, those games all complement the otherwise dull gameplay with large numbers of devastating moves, puzzles, captivating world design or (in the case of Onechanbara) oddball niche appeal. Spyborgs unfortunately has none of these things so while it is an extremely solid and serviceable brawler, there isn't really anything to endear it to the player.

So this is what happened to Captain Commando.

Graphically it's pretty good but the futuristic scenery and level design is equally nothing special or memorable to behold. Puzzles boil down to simply uncovering not-so-hard-to-find switches or destroying all enemies to deactivate a barrier. Combat moves are also fairly limited: you have basic short strings of combos, an aerial move and blocking/evading skills plus a launcher but there isn't really much to learn at all and the fighting gets boring quite fast due to the lack of variety, even when switching between characters. The male cyborg has a gun arm for his 'heavy' attack but the other two merely have another physical attack. There's also a story going on in the background but it's conveyed sparingly and honestly, I couldn't have cared less about it.

Surprisingly, the game is actually quite tough and unforgiving on the medium setting and above. Enemies deal out a lot of damage and without getting very good at blocking/evading, you will die quite quickly. There are no checkpoints or extra lives so the game will dump you right back at the start of the stage should you snuff it - seriously frustrating when it means having to slog through lots of repetetive battles all over again. I'll be honest, I (mistakenly) assumed that Spyborgs would be a pushover so I was shocked at the brutality of the medium difficulty and the lack of mercy from the game when throwing you back to the start of a stage. I nudged it down to the 'easy' setting (thankfully you can also do this during a stage) and then it became the linear, dull beat 'em up that I have just been describing.

This is simply one of those games that I'm struggling to say anything about and you either need to have absolutely nothing else on your games shelf to play (unlikely) or be in a horrible, brain-dead vegetative hungover state on a Sunday morning to endure a meaty session of Spyborgs. I can't say that this is a crap game but at the same time, there are better things to do with one's time. Putting the vaccuum around for example or washing the dishes. Everything about Spyborgs is crushingly average, situated in that overly safe middle ground that can't be slated too heavily but equally doesn't deserve a lot of gushing praise. Thankfully I didn't have to pay for this but if anybody is interested in giving it a go themselves then you shouldn't have to pay more than a few quid for a copy these days. To think that some would have paid £30-£40 for this back in 2009 though...ouch.

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