Spyborgs - hands-on

A little while back, we did a piece aboutgames that changed during their development cycles, and we mentioned that sometimes games go through some pretty drastic changes from when we first see them to when we first play them. When we first saw Spyborgs at Captivate ’08, it seemed like a fun, irreverent parody of Saturday-morning cartoons and the superhero genre. Take a look at the original trailer:

It seems, however, that Bionic Games decided somewhere along the line to abandon its original intention to make a puzzle-centric, goofy brawler and opted instead to go for a more hardcore action approach. Compare:

Above: OK, we’re ripoffs of Marcus Fenix, Kitana, and Dog, but at least we’re self-aware, goofy, and fun


Above: Craaaawwwling in my skiiiiin, these wounds, they willllll not heaaaaalll

We’re a little sad to see some of the more charming comedic elements of the game’s earlier version fall by the wayside in favor of super-gnarly hard-rockin’ guitar licks, but that’s a rant for a later time. As a brawler, Spyborgs is pretty (for a Wii game, anyway),features some nifty co-op features, and certainly fills a niche in the Wii’s library.

Here’s the basic story: when the Spyborgs Stinger, Clandestine, and Bouncer discover that their base is under attack, they set out to find out who is responsible.

…OK, that’s the pretty much the whole story. You wanted more? Come on, it’s a brawler. The name of the game here is picking two Spyborgs and beating up wave after wave of the same seven or eight types of enemies, preferably with a friend along for the ride. If you’re by your lonesome, you’ll be paired with a reasonably competent AI partner – you can even press a button and switch the characters you and the AI are controlling, allowing experienced players to set up some pretty neat (albeit schizophrenic) combos.

Spyborgs is surprisingly tough, and unlocking the game’s many “Wii-chievements” will take an absurd amount of practice (not to mention luck). However, if you’re just playing through with a friend for giggles, you can always turn down the difficulty a notch if you get stuck. There’s an admirable amount of content in the main quest, but you can probably blast through it in a reasonable amount of time if you’re not trying to get every unlockable.

And that’s how we suspect Bionic Games wants you to experience Spyborgs: with a friend in a few sittings. Grab a buddy, pull off some cool co-op finishers (each player completes a gesture in a short interactive cutscene), upgrade your Spyborgs and turn off your brains. It’s not going to win any awards for creativity, but it’s well-constructed enough to maybe fool you into thinking you’re playing an old arcade cabinet of X-Men with your buddy. And while we could whine about what could have been with the game’s original tongue-in-cheek approach, guess we’ll have to settle for the ability to run robotic spiders through with samurai swords.

Aug 10, 2009