Posted by Damien McFerran
It is the near future. Resources are dwindling and the major powers of the world are locked in a territorial dispute.
The Japanese have a real love for big robots that hasn't entirely crossed over into the West. Thankfully Cybernator (AKA: Assault Suit Valken) - a follow up to the Megadrive Assault Suit Leynos/Target Earth - made the jump from East to West and remains one of the more memorable SNES shooters.
After the mission-based gameplay of Target Earth, Cybernator comes across as a lot more straightforward. There's quite a bit of in-game dialogue (another hallmark of Target Earth) but you usually have to get from one end of the level to the other. Some of the settings are truly memorable - one level sees you attacking an orbiting space station, the owners of which then turn the tables on you by aiming the huge structure at Earth. You then have to disable a series of boosters to prevent impact, before jumping off and falling to the planet's surface. Thankfully your suit is able to withstand the intense heat generated by re-entry. It's suitably epic stuff and as a result the game feels like it's on a bigger scale than other shooters on the SNES.
Even today the graphics are impressive - big, clean and supremely detailed sprites battle it out over gorgeously-realised terrain. The music is also of a high standard, and the sound effects are suitably punchy and loud. Controlling the mech takes some getting used to, but once you've got the hang of it you really do believe you're in charge of a massive, hulking death machine. Each limb of your robot is a different sprite and this permits some silky-smooth animation that has to be seen to be believed.
NCS updated the formula on the Saturn with Assault Suit Leynos 2 but the SNES version remains the best of the three and is a game you really should look to buy as soon as possible.