CYBORG 009 is an SF side-scrolling action game based on the manga and TV anime series of the same name by the legendary manga artist「SHOTARO ISHINOMORI」.
According to the back of the box, the game features a new exclusive cast of voice actors hired by the original TV animation members and over 300 visual scene cuts.
CYBORG 009 tells the tale of nine individuals from around the world that were kidnapped by the evil「BLACK GHOST」organization in order to be turned into cyborgs designed specifically to be the ultimate weapons. The goal of BLACK GHOST is to ignite a「Third World War」and supply any rich buyers with the most advanced weapons of mass destruction. Fortunately, their plan backfires when the nine cyborgs manage to retain some of their humanity and finally make their escape. Once in liberty, the nine cyborgs band together and vow to destroy BLACK GHOST for the good of mankind.
The main character of the series is「JOE SHIMAMURA」(島村ジョー) better known as「CYBORG 009」. Like with the rest of the cyborgs, JOE unwillingly underwent cybernetic modifications to his body that imbued him with super human abilities. Most notably, JOE has an「Acceleration System」installed inside his body which allows him to move at Mach 5 speed levels.
CYBORG 009 for the MEGA-CD was developed by team「RIOT」, one of the best R&D teams of TELENET JAPAN alongside the more prolific and renown WOLFTEAM. With CYBORG 009, team RIOT fortunately lives up to their decent track record, delivering a very enjoyable fast-paced action game that actually does justice to its source material.
Graphically, CYBORG 009 looks average for a 1993 release, and in reality beyond its remarkable visual scenes, the game doesn't really take advantage of the extra capabilities of the MCD. The sound on the other hand is one of the stellar features of this production, as both the voice acting and the symphonic soundtrack are simply outstanding.
But what I like the most about CYBORG 009 is without a doubt its awesome retro anime feel, as straight from the opening credits the game totally immerses you in its cool retro anime style which is just fantastic. Most notable are also the game's visual scenes which are used to carry on the storyline. These visual scenes are all done in real-time using the MCD hardware, and they're some of the best you can find on the MCD, or in any other 16-bit system for that matter.
■HOW TO PLAY
● Game Controls :
Start Button... Pauses Game A Button... Shoot B Button... Jump C Button... Acceleration System B + C Buttons... Super Jump
A small note about the Accelation System : Physical attacks can only be dodged while being on the ground, while in turn long range attacks can only be dodged (whenever it's actually possible to do it, that is) while being airborne.
■EPISODE 01 : A MYSTERIOUS WOMAN
The storyline begins in Paris. While driving back from the ballet recital of her girlfriend FRANÇOISE ARNOUL (CYBORG 003), JOE accidentally runs over a mysterious young woman who seemed to have appeared out of nowhere. As JOE rushes to her aid, the girl can only humble the words「BLACK GHOST」before passing out...
Puzzled by the enigmatic girl and a probable BLACK GHOST involvement, the pair decides to bring the girl to the Cyborg team H.Q.
Once at the H.Q. the mysterious girl finally wakes up surprised to find out that JOE has been watching over her all night. The girl claims she can't remember much about her past, but she introduces herself as HELENA TOMOSHI. She then hints JOE about a probable location of BLACK GHOST activity - a suspicious mansion on the outskirts of the city.
■STAGE 01 : THE MANSION
This stage should get you acquainted with the controls. Two semi-hidden passageways leading to bonus items can be found on this stage - the first one is directly above your starting position, and where you can find the only 1UP item that I'm aware of in the entire game. The second one can be found directly below the entrance to the stage boss.
The first boss of the game will be CYBORG 0012 who has only two different attack patterns. You can avoid her more dangerous double slash attack by using the acceleration system while jumping.
■EPISODE 02 : THE TROJAN HORSE
It turns out the mansion was a trap and HELENA is in reality a BLACK GHOST spy sent to assassinate the cyborgs! Fortunately JOE makes it back in time just as she was getting ready to kill FRANÇOISE. Left with no other alternative, HELENA confesses that she didn't really wanted to hurt anybody, but that she had no other choice than to serve as a BLACK GHOST spy. She further explains that she was telling the truth about her memory being partially erased by BLACK GHOST, and that she is truly being manipulated by them, but really can't say any more than that for now...
JOE understands her position and decides to present her case before the rest of the Cyborgs. The other Cyborgs aren't as empathetic towards HELENA as JOE is, but he convinces them that she can be trusted. To JOE's surprise however, HELENA escapes during the night and he quickly chases after her...
■STAGE 02 : HIGHWAY CHASE
This is a high-speed auto-scrolling stage where you will have to blast your way through the incoming enemy robots until you eventually get intercepted by the twin CYBORGS 0010 +/-.
This fight is actually very easy - you should remain at the center of the screen at all times, crouch to avoid the beam attack coming from the cyborg on the left, and use a super jump to avoid all of their other attacks. The twins should go down soon enough, specially if you have a fully-powered beam pistol.
Once you're done with the twins, you will finally catch up with HELENA who will fight you in her TROJAN HORSE super robot.
HELENA is even easier to beat than the twins, so you shouldn't have any problem defeating her.
After the fight HELENA finds herself being rescued by JOE once again. Ashamed of her actions, HELENA finally realises that she can trust JOE completely.
■EPISODE 03 : ATTACK OF THE CYBORG GODS
The Cyborgs are really mad at HELENA for attacking them. However their argument is abruptly interrupted when a mysterious figure suddenly appears on their monitor.
The man in black introduces himself as none other than as the BLACK GHOST leader「SKULL」who openly challenges the Cyborgs to stop him, if they can that is...
To make matters worse, SKULL has also captured 003 so immediate action is required. It seems the next step will be the underground caverns of Greece...
■STAGE 03 : VS ACHILLES
In the next levels you will be fighting a new group of cyborgs serving under the Greek God APOLLO. These cyborgs claim to be gods who have come down to Earth to destroy it, so they can end war and rebuild the world into a new utopia. Surprisingly, they themselves don't know they are actually cyborgs since they have been previously brainwashed.
The boss of this stage is the panther warrior ACHILLES . You won't even need to jump to defeat this boss, just use the acceleration system on the ground and you'll be able to dodge all of his attacks.
After progressing a bit further into the caves, JOE eventually manages to find the way out and finally comes face to face with the megalomaniac APOLLO.
APOLLO tricks JOE into dropping his beam pistol so they could fight bare-handed, but then laughs at him as he showcases that he can still fire powerful laser beams from his fingertips. Unfortunately for APOLLO, JOE is not intimidated at all by his power and the fight begins!
■STAGE 04 : VS APOLLO
This fight will feel a bit different since you won't be using your beam pistol. This is far from a disadvantage though, as your kicks and punches can hit like a machine gun.
■STAGE 05 : VS ATLAS
With APOLLO out of the picture, JOE must now eradicate the remnants of his cyborg army. The last of the cyborg gods is ATLAS who is actually the easiest boss in the game.
■EPISODE 04 : NIGHTMARE OF VAN BOOGOT
SKULL's underling KLAUS VAN BOGOOT is holding FRANÇOISE and HELENA's twin sisters hostages. He offers to release FRANÇOISE in exchange for HELENA, but threatens to kill them all if either JOE or the Cyborgs get any closer.
JOE obviously doesn't want go along with this, but HELENA knows there's no other alternative and accepts the trade. However, as HELENA walks away from JOE and apologizes to FRANÇOISE for all the trouble, VAN BOGOOT's true intentions are finally revealed...
In turns out what he really wanted is to kill the sisters as they've gotten in the way of BLACK GHOST. So in a small flash he shoots the three sisters down before charging at JOE.
■STAGE 06 : VS VAN BOGOOT
VAN BOGOOT is very much like APOLLO - he has predictable attack patterns but can take and dish a lot of damage, so you can't afford to mess up too much. His rifle and grenade attacks can be avoided by jumping, while his more powerful laser beam can be avoided simply by crouching.
■EPISODE 05 : BLACK GHOST RISING
Unfortunately HELENA is mortally wounded and dies in JOE's arms...
Before dying, HELENA tells JOE that she was very happy to have met him and that she will die in peace because she knows deep in her heart that there's no obstacle that could ever stop him...
With the door leading to the BLACK GHOST base in front of him - JOE is now more determined than ever to put an end to their evil existence once and for all!
■STAGE 07 : BREAKING IN
Inside the base JOE is instantly greeted by CYBORG 0011 who looks like a big mechanical spider. CYBORG 0011 is the boss with the highest amount of HP, but his attacks are so slow and predictable that you should be able to defeat it without getting hit.
As JOE continues to make his way to the top, he realises that this isn't the real BLACK GHOST base but a facility dedicated to building the ultimate cyborg :
A colossal fortress of unparalleled destructive power !!
The time has come to settle the score with SKULL and make him pay for what he's done!
SKULL will jump around the screen firing his 3WAY beam rifle. You can use the acceleration system to move quickly to the opposite corner and jump to avoid getting hit. Just make sure to remain as far from SKULL as possible so you don't get hit by his posterior aerial dash.
When SKULL lands on the ground, he will do a dash attack followed by one or two of his chest beams. You can avoid his chest beams by crouching, so get close to him and let him have it.
■ESPISODE 06 : THE FINAL BATTLE
Unfortunately for the Cyborgs, the BLACK GHOST super fortress is already operational and SKULL manages to escape into it. SKULL then uses the fortress to attack the Cyborgs which are only saved thanks to 001 who creates a telekinetic barrier around them.
The fortress then lifts off for outer space, but as its taking off JOE asks 001 to use his powers to teletransport him inside. The powerful telekinetic barrier that protected the Cyborgs suddenly bounces off and everyone except 001 is knocked unconscious as the island explodes...
Meanwhile, JOE wakes up inside the giant super fortress knowing there's no turning back now... He must kill SKULL and put an end to the BLACK GHOST reign of terror here and now.
■STAGE 08 : VS SKULL
This is the final stage. You must avoid the security systems as you head for the main control room. Activating the laser alarms will summon a weaker version of ATLAS, but as you can imagine, its nothing to worry about.
JOE has finally reached the main control room, unfortunately SKULL manages to sneak behind him and attempts to break his neck... As JOE struggles to get free, he shockingly discovers that the true BLACK GHOST leaders are in reality three brains connected to the main computer.
Now as his consciousness slowly starts fading away, JOE suddenly remembers the three most important persons in his life : HELENA, FRANÇOISE, and his MOTHER. Knowing well that he cannot fail them, he begins to smile as he feels the strength returning to his body. He finally manages to shake off SKULL and tells him there's no running away this time around!The final battle begins!!
SKULL will use the same attack patterns as before, the only difference is that he will no longer use his chest beam and instead will do a double dash attack on the ground.
It turns out SKULL is a cyborg himself, although for JOE he's nothing but a simple robot. In any case, you will now have to fight his body as well as his flying head.
There's a trick to the first part of this fight though - as soon as the battle starts SKULL's body will be dashing towards you. You should then use the acceleration system to dodge the attack, and then rush to the rightmost part of the screen where you should remain crouched at all times. If done correctly, the body won't be able to hit you and you will be able to destroy it with ease.
Once the body is destroyed, the head will go berserk and start attacking relentlessly. There's really no strategy to apply at this point, so just try to avoid getting hit as much as you can, and just hope you have enough HP left to withstand its attacks.
With his head destroyed, SKULL is finally done for.
Meanwhile back on Earth, a tearful FRANÇOISE and the others realise that JOE has been sent on a self-sacrificing mission from which he probably won't be able to return... 002 who's the only Cyborg with flying capabilities, leaps up to the sky to try to save him...
With SKULL defeated, all that remains of BLACK GHOST are the three brain leaders. Knowing that their death is at hand, they tell JOE that as long as humanity retains the evil in its heart, BLACK GHOST will never die!
JOE then hears the voice of 002 coming from outside the fortress and proceeds to destroy the main control system.
JOE is blown out into space just as 002 arrives to catch him. 002 then apologizes to JOE - though he had come to rescue him, he doesn't have any jet power left to take them both back to Earth without burning up on re-entry...
■EPILOGUE : WHEN YOU WISH UPON A FALLING STAR...
JOE tries very hard to convince 002 to leave him behind and go back to the others, but 002 refuses. Instead, as they enter the atmosphere, he asks JOE「Where Would You Like To Fall?」.
The scene now swtiches to Japan where a girl and her younger brother are looking up to the night sky and see a falling star.
The little boy wishes on the falling star for a toy rifle, but the elder sister instead prays for an end to war and the beginning of world peace.
And with this message of world peace and hope for the future, we've come to the bittersweet ending of the game.
Yes. Apparently there's a new cartridge out there called「Mega-Cart」that bypasses the region-lock.
Or you can download the game off the net, change the region of the file with a program then burn it on a CD and play it on your actual Mega-CD system. I don't see many advantages of doing this though, since it's just better to play it on your PC to avoid wearing down your system's laser drive.