By David Mayne
Console: Atari Jaguar
Developer: Attention To Detail
Amongst the many ill-fated titles to have the distinct “pleasure” of gracing the Atari Jaguar console was a little free-form, futuristic spaceship-shooter called Cybermorph. Also know by early adopters of the Jaguar as Atari’s attempt at Star Fox, Cybermorph combined impressive polygon graphics (come on, it was 1993), decent controls, and the most strangely addictive game play I can think of on the Jaguar. The concept is drop-dead simple, and any 3-year-old could probably pick up Cybermorph and get it down in roughly 5 minutes: Fly around, collect yellow orbs, find the exit. Rinse…repeat. A “boss” appears once in a while, usually at the end of each of the five “levels”, but other than that, Cybermorph is a one-trick pony. A bald chick named Skylar, who seems to be your ship’s A.I., chimes in every now and then, usually to tell you how crappy your flying is, but other than that, she’s really no help. What makes Cybermorph work is its simplicity. Sure, it’s repetitive and universally boring, but there’s still something to it, something that kept me glued for 3 hours straight. Maybe it was the drive to complete it, being that it was seriously easy to do, and the fact that it does employ some cool polygon graphics (if you were a fan of those back in the day), making it a warm slice of game-nostalgia pie.
Typical of most launch titles for the Atari Jaguar, Cybermorph is bare-bones as far as sound, story, and production value. This game looks like Attention To Detail spent about 2 weeks developing it, sent it to production, and called it a day. I’ve seen more polish in a vehicle impound lot than I saw in Cybermorph. Cruddy laser blast noises, complete lack of music, and Skylar’s annoying commentary all combine to warrant turning the volume down completely, instead turning on some Midnight Metal Mayhem! See what I did right there? The polygon graphics are cheese, easily blown away by Super Nintendo’s Star Fox, however the frame rate on the Jaguar is more fluid. Given more time and a bigger budget, Cybermorph could have truly been transformed into a class-A title, but instead you get what feels like an super-rushed launch game meant to “show-off” what the system could do. Instead it makes the Jaguar look more impotent than it should, and as a game meant to sell systems, it doesn’t stand a snowball’s chance in hell on Halloween. The fact that there were other Jaguar games much more up to the task of showcasing the system’s power, made Atari’s decision to bundle Cybermorph with new Jaguar systems a serious misstep, and one that probably added to the impending failure of the system as a whole.
With crap-tons of Cybermorph cartridges floating around, securing one for your Jaguar won’t be a challenging task (I have 3 carts myself). The local game store here in town has 7 copies (4 that are in-box), so it’s hardly a rare title. All gripes aside though, Cybermorph for the Atari Jaguar still holds a special place in the hearts and minds of true Jag fans, and because it’s so readily available, it can and should be on the shelf of any self-respecting Atari collector.
Fun Factor: 5 – Boring, repetitive, but strangely addictive. Go figure.
Graphics: 2 – At one time, polygons were the bee’s knees! Not so much here. SNES’s 16-bit Star Fox looks better. If the Jaguar is truly 64-bit, this doesn’t show it…
Sound: 1 – Aside from Skylar’s digitized voice, there is nothing here that the Atari 2600 couldn’t do. Fail.
Control: 5 – Forward, backward, side to side, shoot. BAM…you’ve mastered the game!
Lasting Appeal: 2 – Over in about an hour, the only reason most Jaguar owners even have Cybermorph is because it came with the damn system! Still, collectors must attain…