Review - Cybermorph

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Review - Cybermorph

Post by Trev » Mon Jul 04, 2011 12:37 pm

Cybermorph is the often debated Atari Jaguar pack-in game. While it has its diehard fans, the majority of gamers seem to dismiss. Is there safety in numbers with the haters? Should I join the small (but loud :wink: ) group of Atari fans who love this game? Will I fall somewhere in between? Hmmm …

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Cybermorph is a flying game that takes place in space but, unlike many similar games, combat isn’t the priority. Not that there is none, but it takes a backseat to the main purpose which is exploring to collect scattered pods. There is a story to explain why you are doing this (and each planet has a paragraph of dialogue adding to it) but it isn’t too memorable. But the exploration and collecting actually proved to be quite fun. I appreciate the change in emphasis and, even though colleting is pretty straightforward enough, the developers mixed it up a bit. Rather than just having the pods flanked by enemies, it became almost like a scavenger hunt as the pods that lay out in the open gave way to those that were hidden, or those that needed puzzle like obstacles to be solved. Not for everyone, but I liked it.

Cybermorph’s graphics are a bit of a mixed bag. The game often employs a variety of random colors … which wouldn’t be bad if there was any rhyme or reason as to what they used. Pinks, yellows, reds, etc… :? They frequently don’t blend at all and, imho, look poor. (more successful are the planets that limit the color choices) A shame really, as this frequent clashing detracts from the gouraud shaded polygons which actually aren’t half bad. You need to remember that this was a 1993 release

Another detraction is the lack of anti aliasing, leading to rough edges on the polygons. Again though, we need to remember the time of release. Not that it makes it less notable mind you, but certainly easier to understand and, perhaps, overlook.

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A couple things that are a bit more difficult to overlook in my opinion, are the lack of textures, and the lack of background objects. Regarding the missing textures, it gives the game a dated look. This isn’t always a bad thing … the look did grow on me, but I really do wish (along with several Jag games) that they had used textures. As for background objects, well … with the exception of a random tree there really is nothing in the background to speak of save the rather ugly looking enemies. In hindsight, this actually proved to be a bit of an immersive experience. I really felt isolated in the cold of space (heck, this is probably how it looks on lonely planets) Overall I can see why the graphics didn’t live up to gamers (perhaps overestimated) expectations of what 64 bit should look like, but at its core they really are solid.

On the audio end, there is really no music (save the pretty cool introductory number) and for a system that boasted a strong music chip I found the sound effects to be rather poor. There is some occasional speech courtesy of a bald green headed hologram called Skylar. While the phrases she speaks are limited and essentially useless (“avoid the ground” … thanks for the tip :roll: ) I actually admit to rather liking them. While I can see how they may drive others nuts eventually, this was never the case with me. Go figure. :P
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Going back to the lack of music, I do feel it would have been a nice addition to the game. I wouldn’t have even necessarily gone with a full blown soundtrack, but how about occasional tracks maybe at the start of each planet, or at key moments. Some short, haunting clips could have really added to the atmosphere. I feel it was a mistake to release the game without music, a move that reflected poorly on the Jaguar. :( In time though, I did get over the lack of tunes.

Control in this game is quite tight, and I found it easy to navigate. No problems with sharp turns or anything, and everything was quick and responsive. No complaints. :)

The enemies in Cybermorph don’t seem particularly smart to me, but with only three lives and no continues it doesn’t seem to alter the challenge that much. In some ways it probably balances it actually because Cybermorph is a long game (I was actually quite surprised to learn how big a game it was). Whether it needed to be so long is a fair question. I found that eventually it proved to be a bit boring simply due to not enough variety, but I suppose as a pack in it needed to have a lot of content and be challenging enough to keep the early adopters busy while they waited for the next games. Early levels are gentle enough though, and password are provided (I wish you got a few more of them, but its no deal breaker)

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If you are patient enough to get passed the spotty graphics, and the lack of music (and you aren’t expecting a shump type game) you’ll probably find Cybermorph growing on you like I did. In time, it proved to be a satisfying and addictive game. And as the most common Jag cart in existence, there is no excuse not to own it. 8)


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Last edited by Trev on Sat Aug 04, 2012 10:27 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Post by 3DOKid » Mon Jul 04, 2011 9:46 pm

I'm an anti-aliasing hater. I love the purity of the polygons in Cybermorph. :)

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Post by Trev » Tue Jul 05, 2011 12:16 am

3DOKid wrote:I'm an anti-aliasing hater. I love the purity of the polygons in Cybermorph. :)
They did grow on me, no doubt. Still would have been a better showcase w/them though I think.

Thanks for reading and for the comment. :)
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Post by sneth » Tue Jul 05, 2011 4:37 am

I'd rather take jaggy edges than smeared poo look of N64 aliasing...

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Post by Trev » Tue Jul 05, 2011 5:05 am

sneth wrote:I'd rather take jaggy edges than smeared poo look of N64 aliasing...
A fair (and funny) point. :lol:


I stand by comments though. At least I was able to overlook the jaggies (and other graphical quirks), and focus on the game proper.

Its a fun game if you approach it fairly and play as intended. Much slower paced (for the most part) I thought. Worked to its benefits in some ways (popup wasn't as bothersome) and provided some longevity.

Thanks for the comments. :)
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Post by 3DOKid » Tue Jul 05, 2011 9:52 am

It is a grower. i can't tell however whether that's entirely nostalgia or because of the game. It's not as much fun as total eclipse, but i liked it.

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Post by Trev » Tue Jul 05, 2011 2:26 pm

3DOKid wrote:It is a grower. i can't tell however whether that's entirely nostalgia or because of the game. It's not as much fun as total eclipse, but i liked it.
Oh I don't doubt that nostalgia plays a part. Its interesting in my case though ... I remember when I first played Cybermorph I didn't like it ... not much anyway. It wasn't during the 1993 launch mind you, but it was when the Jag was still on the market (1995 I think) Of course at that time I was either drooling over pics of 3DO games, or I had just gotten my first 3DO console and Cybermorph (and the jag) paled in comparison to what 3DO was churning out.

It's only been in recent years that I've truly learned to appreciate what Cybermorph was doing, and what it did. You see, when I first played it, I did so at a very fast pace ('where did I learn to fly') ... my 1st mistake. I also played expecting much more of a shump type game ... my 2nd mistake. Cybermorph is neither, and I now know that.

In some ways it is actually better than Total Eclipse (a game that does benefit more from nostalgia from me) It has more depth. But there is no question that Total Eclipse totally destroys Cybermorph in both the audio & visuals! It helps a great deal when playing it, I'm not gonna deny.

At the end of the day though, I think that even though Cybermorph & Total Eclipse have similarites, both taking place in space, the games play too different to really compare (imho) It'd be like comparing Need for Speed to Super Burnout. Yeah they are both great driving games (although Need for Speed is way better) but one is a sim and the other is an arcade racer. No question though, both Cybermorph & Total Eclipse played key roles in the early days of their respective consoles.
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Post by 3DOKid » Tue Jul 05, 2011 3:45 pm

Ah, but Total Eclipse was the UK Launch game and Cybermorph was the Jag UK launch game.. They were compared :)

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Post by Trev » Tue Jul 05, 2011 3:48 pm

3DOKid wrote:Ah, but Total Eclipse was the UK Launch game and Cybermorph was the Jag UK launch game.. They were compared :)
I know it. It was/is a valid comparison in that since. For a launch game, Total Eclipse was the far more impressive one.
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Post by Austin » Wed Jul 06, 2011 12:06 am

Not sure if you have a Jag CD or not Trev, but if you don't and you do eventually get one, I will be interested in reading your thoughts on Battlemorph.

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Post by Trev » Wed Jul 06, 2011 12:44 am

Austin wrote:Not sure if you have a Jag CD or not Trev, but if you don't and you do eventually get one, I will be interested in reading your thoughts on Battlemorph.
I used to own a Jag cd, but I traded it away for a song (actually it was for a bunch of 3DO games) At times I miss it ... but honestly it almost never got played. I was happy to pass it on to a friend who had been looking for one.

When cleaning my game room I actually found the box it came in and a few games besides. So I have a decent start of a Jag cd collection ... except the actual console. :lol:

If I ever get one again, I'll be sure to review Battlemorph as I seem to remember it was one of my fav games for the system.
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Post by Austin » Wed Jul 06, 2011 2:03 am

Yeah, Battlemorph basically fixed most if not all of the qualms people had with the first game. Textures, in-game music, more intricate missions, etc. etc.

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Post by Trev » Sat Jul 16, 2011 4:07 am

I should look through my game room more often ... I have a copy of Battlemorph. :lol:

Now, should I buy another jag cd? Debating about if its worth picking up another one ... I'm leaning towards no ... but who knows, if i ever find a good deal, maybe.


Cybermorph, Battlemorph, ... was there ever plans for a 3rd game?
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Post by Austin » Sat Jul 16, 2011 4:52 am

Leaning towards "no" is probably a wise choice.. But then again, if you can get one cheap (probably rather unlikely)..

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