This game sucks. I’ve been procrastinating all week and then forcing myself to play it, and haven’t made that much progress. I’ve gone back and forth on whether to quit playing or not, and I think finally I’ve decided to move on. It may seem odd that I played through crap like Light Fantasy and Fist of the North Star 5, but Cyber Knight has an English patch and a walkthrough, so anyone can play it. It’s as bad as those “kuso 5” games I played earlier, though.
The main problem, aside from the insane random encounter rate, is that the designers let realism get in the way of fun. I’ve encountered this in other games — for instance, I’m typically very skeptical of any sort of system involving weapon or armor repair. It always seems like it adds more frustration and tedium than any sort of strategy or fun.
Cyber Knight’s problem is the way you develop your characters, and the failure of the designers to properly balance the game to take account of it. As I said in the first post, the designers were after a more realistic type of character development. So you can’t just go out and fight to strengthen your mechs, nor can you spend some nebulous “currency” to magically make your mechs stronger and stronger. Instead, you have to take parts off defeated enemies. And furthermore, it makes sense that you wouldn’t be able to use the same parts over and over again to increase your strength to infinity, so each part only works once (or at most twice). This is more realistic, but it also imposes a hard cap on your mech stats. This is especially a problem for defense and Energy Points (i.e. hit points).
What are you supposed to do when you meet a random monster that can attack your entire team for over 1/2 their HP? You can prevent that attack by closing in to fight, but that takes at least one turn. You can’t level up or equip better armor or anything like that. So basically just hope you can flee. If not, you’re screwed. And even if you do run, you better hope that the next encounter you get in three steps isn’t the same thing.
There are defensive barriers you can equip, but it’s not clear what effect they have. I equip them but random encounters still kill me in 2 hits sometimes. You either dodge completely, or you take 1/3 of your HP. If someone dies there’s no way to revive them, and there’s no way to heal or repair in battle. This makes going through dungeons heavily dependent on luck. Even with save states I found it frustrating.
Finally, the combat system has some issues that are annoying me more the more I play. The worst is the enemy movement — since you put in your commands before the enemies move, you frequently lose your turn because the enemy moves out of range. It adds yet another element of randomness to the battle.
Anyway, here’s what I did do. I had to go back to the Trader planet to hear about the Red Crystal. Once I did, I was able to grab it fairly easily, extending my jump range. Now I could go to a planet with “primitive” people:
|More descendants from the Europa|
Some of them had been captured by berserker robots, so it was time for another Berserker base. These always follow the same pattern — the enemies are a mix of old and new ones, and you have to find your way through the building. Often you have to deal with false doors or confusing passages, but finally you’ll come to a boss who will appear out of nowhere. In this case the boss is the Hydra:
The Hydra could kill one of my units, defending, with a single shot. The trick is that you have to close in on the Hydra as quickly as possible to prevent it from using its attacks. It took me 7 save state reloads to successfully do this and beat the other enemies. But once I did I was able to free the captives, and they gave me a wood carving that one of the Traders wanted.
|The grateful “primitives”|
Also from the same planet I got a video disc that I could go back to the Europa and play; it just gave a bit of information on the last days of the Europa.
Next up is a planet with pink whales.
|This came out before Macross 7|
They’re upset that berserkers are on the planet, so it’s another berserker dome very similar to the previous one. This time the boss was easier, and after destroying it I was able to get the whale song.
|Doo doo doo|
Back at the Trader planet I was able to trade the song for some information, but not a whole lot — then it was off to find a Trader youth who had been trapped on a planet…and there’s another berserker base there. Same deal as before, but the monsters were much harder here. There were two bosses. The first consisted of a strong enemy plus 1-3 of the boss from the whale planet. I had to save state reset until there was only 1 to survive.
|The second boss|
The second boss wasn’t too bad. After the enemies are cleared I found a black cube in another area. Returning to the Traders gave me the information on the main quest — if I find all 4 monuments and the black cube, I can talk to the Mentana (the “gods” who created people). I already have 2 monuments, so I went in search of the next one.
The next planet had yet another berserker dome. I met more monsters who slaughtered my party and began to curse myself for not skipping this game in the first place.
So unless someone who has played this game can come in and tell me I screwed everything up and that it’s much easier if you understand the system better, I’m done. It’s a port so I could have skipped it anyway by my original rules, but it’s not something I like doing.
Here’s the patch if you want to give it a try.