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Cyberion Wish List 

(4/24/2000) Very rarely will V Planet talk about what they want to see in the next version of a game, but Cyberion has real potential. Read about our "wish" list here.

Cyberion can be a lot of fun if you divert from your real mission.

If you haven't yet, take a nice, long look at the Cyberion review in the Top Arcade Game list. One of the things you'll quickly notice is that Cyberion received only 8 out of 35 points, which is not a very high score. But if you look more carefully, you'll notice that this game belongs to a very unique genre, namely:
Players 1 player Genre: Arcade/Shooter/Trading Game
Rating To solve: 7-8 hours Final Rating: 8/35

What the heck is an "Arcade/Shooter/Trading" Game?!

After playing this game for about seven to eight hours, I was convinced that this was the only way I could honestly describe this original title by LutasArts. Cyberion is an unlikely combination of the arcade elements of Tempest, the shooting elements of Asteroids, and the strategic elements of a Koei game! So how can a game with so much potential end up at the bottom tier of our Top Arcade Games list? 

After some investigation, the reason became clear. While there are lots of fun things this game has to offer, a lot of these play options have nothing to do with beating the game itself! Let me explain.

In Cyberion, your real mission is to locate the coordinates of 500 planets. To do this, you have to fly across space until you luckily bump into one of these planets. Then, the coordinates of this new planet are automatically written down in your Intergalactic chart. Afterwards, you have to keep searching for more planets. The game ends when all 500 planets are found.

This is where it gets strange. You can land in each planet. Once you've landed, you can buy and sell stocks that increase the number of credits you have. With the credits you can buy more stocks and increase your cash flow. A great tactic is to create a trade triangle between three planets so you can maximize your profits. This can be done easily by using the hyperspace feature, which allows you to warp between planets you've already rediscovered.

Unfortunately, none of these gameplay features I've mentioned have anything to do with locating the coordinates of the 500 planets! At first, I was a happy trader, landing on planets and trading to increase my credits. But soon I was thinking to myself, "What do I need these credits for?" Then, I noticed that using hyperspace only gets in the way of obtaining the coordinates I need to win the game. Sooner or later I just forgot the whole trading part of this game since you can't buy anything with the credits you've maintained. I've even started navigating blindly into asteroids, which don't hurt you but cause you to lose credits. By the time I solved Cyberion I was about 50,000 credits in debt, which didn't really have a bearing on the game's outcome.

What a shame that a game with so many features is reduced to a lazy navigation game! But one of the advantages QB games have that most other videogames don't is that you can complain about some of the problems you had with the game, and usually the programming teams who made the game will quickly respond. If you make some good suggestions you might even end up on the programming team's credits page. With this in mind, I decided to write a wish list for LutasArts, the developers of Cyberion.

If I was able to walk up to the LutasArts crew and tell them what I was looking for for this game to get a higher overall score, they've already taken most of it to consideration. The next version of this game will have more planets, which means you won't have to travel through the emptiness of space most of the time. What I'd like to see though (although Lutas may have his own surprises) are a few, simpler things.

First of all, the landing sequence and hyperspace mode are a lot more fun than the asteroids sequence in this game. But neither of these mini-features have an effect on the outcome of the game. If the central mission is to locate all the planets, there's really no need to backtrack to planets you've already found. Perhaps you can adjust the game's story so that your ship has to go back to planets you've found for one reason or another. Throw in some space pirates and have them attack older planets. Or have a dying planet that needs some units of minerals to survive. Take care of these problems before time runs out (enter the hyperspace feature) and the people from that planet reward you with credits. Speaking of rewards, it'd be cool if some of the planets the ship lands in contain friendly people who will repair your ship or give you a gift if you land on their planet, giving the landing feature some purpose.

Next, give me something to buy. If I was a little more patient, I could get a lot of credits in this game. But there's nothing to buy. What about secret items, weapon upgrades, planet coordinates, Intergalactic Treaties, or new ships? If I could buy these things with the money I earn from buying and selling stocks, I'd be paying a lot more attention to the stock market.

Finally, throw in some air combat. While it's okay with me if you get harassed by a bunch of asteroids, the asteroids part of this game would have a lot more depth if there were alien spacecraft hovering about trying to damage you. If you add a shields feature to your game and have it so only the enemy spacecraft damage your shields, it'll give me a reason to twiddle my thumbs.

The kind of game I'm describing is probably enough to get at least 20 points if done correctly. In fact, it's enough to turn a normal shooter into an Arcade/Shooter/Trading/RPG game. Maybe I'm encouraging any programming team with the determination to make a game like this, but with Cyberion at hand LutasArts is already very close to fulfilling my crazy dream. Please, LutasArts, please consider some of these ideas for your game. Cyberion has such tremendous potential and it almost hurts giving the game a score that doesn't reflect what this particular game is capable of. And hey, if these ideas appeal to you it would be a treat if you'd add my name to your Credits list. 

- Vance Velez

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