Wii

North America

Spyborgs

by Zachary Miller - November 6, 2009, 12:12 pm PST
Total comments: 4

7

It virtually defines the phrase "middle of the road."

Spyborgs, a game recently released by Capcom, is not a great game. It is also not a terrible game. It is merely passable; a vanilla effort by developer Bionic Games. At its heart, Spyborgs is an old-school side-scrolling brawler in the vein of Double Dragon or Fight Street, but with cyborgs and robots. Our own Jon Lindemann even compared it to God of War. That game overcomes its repetitious nature with stunning visuals, palpable mythos, and strategic combat. Spyborgs does none of these things, so the game's shortcomings are right out in the open.

The Kratos comparison is easy to make as the game flow asks you to defeat a large stable of enemies before moving on. Crates litter the environments and, when broken, spew out blue (health), orange (special attack), and red (upgrade) orbs that magnetically attract to your character. You can also destroy many parts of the environment to score more orbs. Combos are tallied, titled, and rewarded with more red orbs. At the end of every level, you can spend all the red orbs you’ve gathered on stat or attack upgrades. All that's missing from Spyborgs is Phoenix Feathers and Gorgon Eyes.

The fighting engine offers no originality, and in fact mars the experience somewhat. There is no lock-on system, and when you're in a room surrounded by evil robots, it's tough to focus on just one baddie at a time. As you upgrade your character, new moves can be acquired, including a dodge and one move that simply doesn't work. Battles consist of mashing the B and C buttons, and pressing Z to block. The game lets you take two characters into any stage and switch between them with the + Button. That's cool, but if you've been pouring your red orb resources into one character, the other one will feel underwhelming. When both characters are alive, you can hold the Z button and shake the Wii Remote to activate a team-based attack, where your only job is to input simple command prompts (usuallymotions) to one-hit kill most enemies. This is a nice way of clearing out the toughest enemy in the room quickly, and with orange orbs being dropped by almost every enemy and the crates, the special attack meter refills fast.

The game's one real downgrade involves the Wii Remote pointer. It's always on, and whenever it passes over a nearly invisible box, you have to hold the A button and flick the Wii Remote upwards to reveal the box. This is also used on cloaked bridge consoles. The box-finding is asinine and time-consuming. The only worthwhile use of this mechanic is to find bonus content, such as Secret Tapes.

The game is also punishingly difficult. When you start out, your characters are obviously underpowered, having not upgraded anything yet. Your opponents are so tough right off the bat that I died five times on the first stage and eventually had to lower the difficulty because I was being repeatedly gang-banged by a dozen on-screen robots. Happily, the game does offer two-player co-op, which I heartily recommend. In fact, I would argue that it is the best way to enjoy Spyborgs. Unfortunately, the game does not offer online co-op play.

Spyborgs is a good-looking game, with slick character designs and interesting environments. It's just too bad you don’t interact with any of it. Bionic Games has said that the original concept for the game was to be cartoony, but that they changed the aesthetic to be more gritty and realistic, but I certainly don't see it. Spyborgs looks fine, but it’s caught somewhere between cartoony and gritty, so it ends up looking a little too generic. The concepts are there, they just need more fleshing out. The heavy metal soundtrack, though, is too loud and obtrusive. The voice acting is decent, even if it is sometimes poorly cast.

Overall, Spyborgs is a good game. It's not terrible, it's not great, and it doesn't in any way stand out. But it is good and fun to play, especially if you lower the difficulty a bit and bring a friend along. If you're not into side-scrolling brawlers, there is nothing in Spyborgs to change your mind, but if you want some old-school spice, this is worth checking out.

Score

Graphics Sound Control Gameplay Lastability Final
8 5 7 7 7 7
Graphics
8

Clean character models and interesting environments keep Spyborgs looking fresh, though generic. There are good particle effects as well.

Sound
5

The music may cause your ears to bleed. The voice acting and sound effects are passable.

Control
7

The cloaked boxes thing rubs me the wrong way, and I wish the combat was a little smoother. As it stands, you block for awhile, then attack, then block, etc. Did I mention that Spyborgs is a straight-up scrolling brawler?

Gameplay
7

So very repetitious, but if you like brawlers (and I do), it's hard to fault the game's purpose. Enjoyment shoots up when you bring a friend over.

Lastability
7

There are a lot of difficulties to complete, and finding all the Secret Tapes will take some time. Plus, the game offers a simplistic achievement system whereupon completing certain tasks will net you medals, some of which you can use to further upgrade the characters.

Final
7

I enjoyed Spyborgs once I toned down the difficulty. If you like brawlers, you might too.

Summary

Pros
  • Interesting art direction
  • Old school brawler
  • Two-player co-op
Cons
  • Cloaked environmental objects
  • Difficulty is very high, even on normal
  • Old school brawlers are very repetitious
Review Page 2: Conclusion

Talkback

MoronSonOfBoronGarnet Red, Contributing WriterNovember 06, 2009

Kairon and I are playing this one through on co-op, and it's a blast. Very unforgiving on Normal difficulty, however; we, too, moved back to Easy for one (but only one! ...so far) sequence.

I agree, it's a generic brawler, but it's also old-school in the fact that there is very little complex AI involved. Enemies simply mob the player, and I found this to be refreshing; there is little Conservation of Ninjutsu when it comes to who is attacking you and when, and this made the game more difficult than we first believed it would be. The lack of overt formalized combat mechanics has us thinking on our feet.

Given its gameplay "flaws", it's very pleasant to see that they put an honest effort into the presentation and look of the game.

I will confess that when I first noticed the player character models got slight alterations based on their upgrade level, I figured it would be a good pretext to zoom in for a peek at Clandestine's underbust.

What's this now? The character models change with further upgrades? I haven't noticed that with Bouncer, the only character I seriously upgraded.

But if you're telling me that Cladestine's top becomes successively smaller, I think I'll switch gears.

Mop it upNovember 07, 2009

Definitely turned off by the brutal difficulty. I'm always looking for co-op games, but I don't think this one is right for me.

MoronSonOfBoronGarnet Red, Contributing WriterNovember 07, 2009

Bouncer's back jets turn into hulking pseudo-wings.

Actually, Clandestine's top doesn't get smaller, but her boots get bigger.

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Genre Action
Developer Bionic Games
Players1 - 2

Worldwide Releases

na: Spyborgs
Release Sep 22, 2009
PublisherCapcom
RatingTeen

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