Cybersaurus Game Review for Palm OSby Kris Keilhack
June 19th, 2006
Cybersaurus is a thrilling new action game from Darxun Games for Palm OS 5.2 and later devices. The game’s storyline is a hodgepodge of elements inspired by Beast Wars-era Transformers and the BattleTech/MechWarrior universe. The game’s tired storyline consists of your Raptor 9000 mech being the Earth’s only hope against a race of evil Robosaurs. The mechanized Robosaurs civilization used Earth's original Dinosaurs as inspiration for their sleek, metallic instruments of destruction. Now in the year 2513 they have returned to reclaim the planet for themselves. Of course, the primary role here is action-packed gameplay so any storyline shortcomings can be forgiven.
Three levels of difficulty are available in this single player only battle fest. I performed game testing on normal mode. The main in-game choice is choosing between a 1st person cockpit view or a 3rd person over-the-shoulder view. In 1st person mode, I found it far easier to aim my weapons precisely but the claustrophobic cockpit view limits one’s view of nearby enemy movement. In addition to a better view of the action, overall maneuverability was also easier in 3rd person mode.
Three different weapons are available to your Raptor 900: machine gun, plasma rifle and rocket launcher (not available at the start of the game). The machine gun was my mainstay weapon due to its speed and high ammo count. The plasma rifle is best saved for tougher enemies in later stages. Rockets are few and far between and should be used very sparingly.
In both perspective modes an onscreen radar map provides the location of the enemy Robosaurs, weapon & energy power-ups and the exit to the next stage. In a very surprising twist (on level 2 in fact!) I found myself in the heat of battle and running away from an enemy. I suddenly encountered the loading screen and ended up back on stage 1. The game actually utilizes a hub-like system similar to some PC or console games. I was able to go back to stage 1 and pick up an energy refill that I had previously missed and then return to the action in stage 2. That was a very cool and unexpected touch that adds some additional depth and replayability to the game.
During the game certain tasks (collecting keys to unlock barrier gates etc) will have to be met in order to proceed. These adventure elements may appear a bit tacked on but nevertheless provided a nice counterpart to the constant search and destroy combat.
Enemy AI was not brilliant but the enemy ‘Saurs can take a lot of your firepower before succumbing. Things really start to get hairy in later levels, no matter the difficulty level.
Graphics & Sound
Whether in 1st or 3rd person mode, the graphics & animation in Cybersaurus are spectacular. Reminiscent of a first-generation Playstation title, the texture-mapped landscape scrolls smoothly and is quite an impressive feat for a Palm OS device. Different "planets" have different sky & terrain coloring & textures for a nice variety of landscapes.
Finally, a developer that supports HVGA on non-Zodiac devices! I was overjoyed to be able to play this on my Palm TX. Slightly aggravatingly, no provision exists when playing in 320 x 320 mode on HVGA Palm devices to minimize or darken the Graffiti area during gameplay.
My particularly favorite effect was the animated legs of the Raptor 9000 running across the landscape. Another nice touch was a rotating camera view that spins around your exploding mech when defeated by an enemy.
The exterior camera view did seem a bit choppy in 480 x 320 when a lot of action was occurring simultaneously. This is attributed of course to the additional strain on the Palm’s hardware due to a larger viewing area & more background graphics being drawn and processed. Nevertheless, overall performance was very good on both 312mhz Palm devices I tested the game on.
Sound effects are sparse but effective. The in-game weapon firing noises are appropriate and the enemy Robosaurs emit an eerie roar that sounds like something right out of the Jurassic Park films. The Raptor 9000’s thudding footsteps are a nice touch as are the whistling winds of the alien moons/planets on which the game takes place. Cybersaurus’ title screen features a nice hard rockin’ title song and an attractively rendered shot of your mech.
The controls are fully remappable and posed no problems whatsoever on my TX or 700p. I found the game responded immediately to button presses and its control scheme is very appropriate for a Palm OS handheld device. My only complaint is that pressing the menu button did not always bring up the game exit option. I’d have liked some sort of in-game menu where options can be toggled on and off and games could be saved and loaded. An option to 'flip' the screen over the X axis would also be very useful for gamers who want to play in landscape mode with the 5-way Navigator on the left side instead of the right.
The main PRC file is ~2.8mb and can be stored on an SD card. The game’s 105kb PDB file must reside in main memory for most newer Palm OS devices. Additionally, when playing in 480 x 320 mode on a T3/T5/LD/TX, you must rotate your Palm’s screen to landscape mode prior to launching the game--there are no means to do this from within the game. Again, Cybersaurus requires an OS 5.2 or newer Palm OS device with a 200mhz or faster CPU. So T|T, T2, Zire 71, T|E and Zire 31 owners are unfortunately out of luck.
While Cybersaurus is still a bit rough around the edges in this initial version, it’s easily worth the price of registration. I’d like to see a bit of polishing to the menus and overall presentation of the game as well as the ability to flip the screen in landscape mode. Multiplayer would be nice down the road but the game provides plenty of challenge in single player mode.
Ultimately, these minor quibbles do not detract from the fact that Cybersaurus is not just one of the year’s best Palm OS game, but one of the best Palm OS action titles ever! Its impressive graphics and exciting in-game action make Darxun Games a developer to watch. I’ll probably end up checking out their earlier titles simply from spending some time playing this game. Any Palm gamer who just happens to like action and battling mecha certainly needs to look no further!
Overall rating: 4 / 5 stars
Price: $14.95 USD
Cybersaurus for Palm OS
Article Comments(13 comments)
- RE: Anyone else still on Palm...??!? -richf
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- RE: Anyone else still on Palm...??!? -tl47
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- RE: Palm brand will return in 2018, with devices built by TCL -hkklife