Cyber Citizen SHOCKMAN (Switch eShop)- Review

Thanks to Ratalaika Games for the review code

Title: Cyber Citizen SHOCKMAN
System: Nintendo Switch (eShop)
Price: $5.99
Release Date: 05/19/2023


The first entry in the Shubibinman series, you take control of two heroes who are transformed into fighting warriors by a scientist, in order to reclaim a town from an evil gang! The sequel came out loooong ago on the Turbografx as Shockman, and this predecessor was skipped for an english release until now. However, despite the amount of plot in that game, this original Shockman title doesn’t really have much of anything besides the basic premise and dialogue between levels. Very cool to see it translated, however.


We have another Ratalaika port, and being the first one they published themselves in a long while, it’s pretty akin to their prior Masaya reissues: several screen & display options, and a cool CRT filter. No audio bugs that I noticed this time around, which is a big relief. Everything works as it should with the UI, though there’s a “modern menu UI” toggle for the in-game menus where I couldn’t really tell if it did anything or not. There’s even a nifty gallery, with concept art and scans of the manual/game box, though the manual is sadly untranslated.


Being a PC Engine game from the earlier days of the console, Shockman definitely looks basic, especially the level select screen, which can seem confusing at first. The sprites move very slowly and the bosses don’t impress visually, but the main characters are very expressive, especially when they get hit. If you’re coming to this from the sequel, you might be caught off guard by the huge difference between this game and what followed it, since this side scroller only has a few backgrounds and not much in terms of variety between levels. The music though is just incredible, and easily the highlight of the game, with almost every track in this entire score being very memorable to me, with Masaya doing a great job at producing a high-energy soundtrack.


The Shockman sequel we got in the states was often compared to Mega Man, and that definitely was the franchise that game imitated the most. Yet this original Shockman title really doesn’t use projectile combat much at all, with the first game going for a basic structure and a melee focus. You pick between one of the two main characters before starting the game, and then go with them for the rest of the adventure.


Once you choose from a few starting stages, you’re in for a simplistic action platformer, one where you move incredibly slowly and have a simple sword slash as your only means of combat. This attack does an OK job at dealing with the enemies, who are pretty simple and won’t pose much of a threat, but the stages will have a lot of hazardous, strangely bonucy pits your way to keep you on your toes, and the platforming can be a bit annoying at times. Luckily like prior Ratalaika ports, you do have states/rewind/fast forwarding to mess with, though to be blunt I hardly found myself using the rewind feature in the actual level, since even the annoying stages are short enough that you’ll reach the stage boss in no time at all, and this is where Shockman gets infuriating and shows its biggest flaw: the hitboxes.


See, with your sword slash, it has a decent range, and can handle the basic enemies no problem, but these bosses are rather big, and a lot of them repeat throughout the game, one of which being variations of a flying dragon which you have to jump up to hit. The only problem is that this dragon’s hitbox is very awkward, and combine that with a weird hitbox on your sword, and you’ll be taking tons of excessive damage even if you do your damnest to be precise. In fact, I’d even go as far as to say these bosses are the hardest part of the entire game, with the dragons being more annoying than even the final boss, who didn’t even feel like a final boss and completely left me for a shock when I found myself beating the whole game in under 20 minutes by just beelining to the fortress and winning against him with ease.


Luckily, Shockman has more depth than you might assume from rushing to the end at first like I did. You have a limited amount of days to complete the final stage before you fail, and each death or stage clear moves the timer ahead by one day. It may seem like the only thing you need to do is just rush to the fortress, beat the final boss and win, but every stage in the game rewards you for clearing it, whether it be from a Policeman giving you a permit to shoot a charged attack in town, (which in the co-op mode, can be combined with the other player for devastating damage, and yes, it does work on the bosses who are on foot) max HP upgrades, auto revives, armor, full heals, and other handy items.

You do have a shop to go to, and you can collect yen dropped by enemies for it, but outside of two charge shot upgrades there’s little to use it on besides a full heal and hints explaining where to find certain items and upgrades. These upgrades definitely help with the frustration on the bosses, but alas, you won’t get one that magically makes the hitboxes better. There’s even cheats in the Ratalaika UI to be invincible or max out your money if you want to snap the game in half, but I found it far more fun and rewarding to fully complete every level before taking on the fortress.


Sadly one error I did notice after beating the game is that the english credits are glitched, repeating prior lines as they scroll by; otherwise the entire game is fully translated for the first time ever, and a pretty darn solid translation, too. It still may be roughly fifty minutes when you fully explore everything, but it’s a darn fun time if you go out and do every stage, especially if you bring a local co-op partner along.


In conclusion, Ratalaika brought over another fun Masaya gem to the west, and while the first Shockman is a rough game with janky hitboxes, I still had a fun time with this one. The platforming, while slow, is still a fun romp and makes for a great co-op game to breeze through in an hour, and the varying paths/upgrades available can add some replay value for future playthroughs. The music being outstanding really does a lot of favors for this game, too.

Bugged credits aside, I am pretty impressed with how this game was brought over after all this time, and the treatment here really does give me hope that the other 3 games will follow suit. The original Shockman is rather janky, but it still has a lot of charm to it and is pretty decent fun in co-op, and for the price point + extras, this is definitely a PCE classic worth playing through at least once, especially if you are fond of the sequel that did make it over back in the day.

I give Cyber Citizen Shockman a 6 out of 10.

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