The current batch of consoles play host to not just new, blockbuster titles that take advantage of decades of technological and game design advancements, but also huge swathes of retro gaming titles from yesteryear too.

Despite growing up in the 80s with a passion for gaming, devouring as much information on arcade, console and computer games as I could on a regular basis, it still surprises me that there are so many games I simply haven’t heard of before.

One such series of games is Shockman, many of which didn’t make it out of Japan at all.

Until now, of course, with Ratalaika Games teaming up with Shinyuden to bring Japanese PC Engine title Cyber Citizen Shockman to modern platforms.

Featuring a choice of playable characters – Japanese school kids Tasuke and Kyapiko – it’s clear that inspiration was taken from Mega Man, both in the style of its gameplay and its plot.

You see, in a fairly Astro Boy-esque twist – which was also the case in Mega Man – Tasuke and Kyapiko are actually androids built by a mad scientist.

You’ll enter levels from a map screen, which also serves as a shop from which to purchase upgrades between levels.

In run and gun/hack and slash platforming tradition, you’ll be taking down robotic enemies and traversing treacherous landscape features as you make your way to the often very imposing bosses on each level.

Though the level design is somewhat uninteresting and yet, at many points, bordering on the unfair in terms of both platform and enemy positioning, it’s actually not too difficult to progress if you don’t rush too much.

Choosing your next level from the map screen is also a neat touch, giving a bit more freedom to the player in terms of how they choose to tackle the game’s 18 levels.

Boss fights feel a bit overwhelming at first, but if you have enough energy, it is possible to spam attack and simply survive without much finesse in at least a few of these battles.

As fun as the game can – and should – be, it’s hampered by sluggish controls and that aforementioned, dull level design.

With no visual or audio upgrades, it’s also a very basic game from a technical standpoint. In fairness, however, this is to be expected – to a certain extent – given its age and the original platform it originally appeared on.

Unfortunately, playing Cyber Citizen Shockman in 2023, it’s almost painfully obvious why it never received a Western release back in the day; despite a few quality of life improvements such as save states and rewind, as well as an image gallery and even a new English translation, it’s difficult to recommend Cyber Citizen Shockman to new players.

If you are familiar with the game already, you may well have a nostalgia for Cyber Citizen Shockman that overcomes its weaknesses.

For other players, however, it’s – unfortunately – quite a disappointing experience, though for sheer curiosity value, particularly if you’re an avid retro gamer, it may still hold some appeal.

Many thanks to the publisher for providing me with a Cyber Citizen Shockman code for review purposes. Cyber Citizen Shockman releases on the 28th of May 2023, for the Switch (version tested), Xbox consoles, PS4 and PS5.

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