Super Cyborg is a game that dances on the edge of homage vs outright imitation of the old Contra series. It’s not the only game that tries to pay it dues to the heavyweight run’n gunner, but it is the only game in recent memory that manages it near-perfectly. The design is obviously inspired by the various Contra games, thought at times it feels like a mix of elements of the NES-games and the SNES-game.
Like the first level, which seems like a fusion of the first level of both Contra (the jungle) and Contra III (the boss and some other aspects). The game is never quite just a homage to the 8-bit or the 16-bit line, its some weirdo mix of both generations, with a colour scheme that reminds me more of DOS-platformers at times than console ones, and yet the end results has a coherent and distinctive style and design that is both utterly Contra-like and yet doesn’t feel like just a shallow imitation.
That said, if you never played or seen Contra, you won’t get most of the references and while it’s a game that can be enjoyed on its own (if you manage to get past the hardcore challenge, which is present already on the easy difficulty), it’s really that much more enjoyable if you played and adored the original Contras. Also expect to die a lot, as the game is just as (and at times even more so) difficult as the originals.
But it has some really neat boss designs, a lot of levels and saving slots for finished levels (very untypical for this kind of game, but its so hard it doesn’t even feel like cheating). The only thing I missed were some short story bits and I really expected to see another super-final boss when playing on hard, as in Contra III. Otherwise, it’s a great game.