SHMUPS





Cloud Master - Taito









Cloud Master -

Reviewed by Mark Bailey

Hereís an interesting little game. You play a cutesy guy riding on a cloud. It looks a lot like a platform game, like Alex Kidd: The Lost Stars, and the way some of the ground enemies hide behind pillars reminds me a lot of Shinobi. The enemies are really weird, everything from teacups to birds with menís heads make an appearance. But I guess the main programmer from China Warrior had to start somewhere. J I first played Cloud Master a long time ago, before I was really the shooter fanatic that I am now, and didnít like it much. But now I appreciate the things that it does well.

Almost every game that comes along seems to be a clone of an already existing and established shooter sub genre. That is, Pulstar is of the R-Type style of gaming while Gate of Thunder owes its existence perhaps to the Thunder Force series. This game, while it may not be evident at first, is a Darius type game.

You build up your main weapon gradually, from a pea shooter to a spread pea shooter to a rapid fire stream to the all mighty wave weapon, (which actually levels up even more by having peas fire from it as well as the waves.) There are five rounds with two mini bosses in each level (really itís the same mini boss per level but he comes back from the dead I suppose). After dispatching each one, you are granted access into a little door that appears in the sky, where you can choose one of 4 auxiliary weapons to use with your main gun. So by holding down both buttons you are able to really cover the screen with gunfire, a la Darius Twin. One of the auxiliary weapons which looks like five miniature soldiers in red, is actually just like the Darius 4 way spread secondary weapon. In addition to these there is a grenade weapon and a weapon that simply adds to your straight ahead firepower.

The main difference between this game and Darius is in this power up system, and it actually endears me to Cloud Master over almost any Darius game. (With the notable exceptions of Darius Plus and Darius Alpha, both for PC Engine!) This game uses restart points! While the modern day gamer hates this because you are forced back in the game, it makes you learn and appreciate the levels more, and perhaps more importantly, it allows you to build your arsenal back up after dying. Dariusí main weakness is that if you die too many times, you have NO chance at advancing in the game. However if you play well you wonít have much chance of dying at all. Cloud Master makes things much more balanced.

The graphics are very blah in the this game, with subdued pastel backdrops (is that possible?!) and is certainly not the best the SMS can do - witness R-Type. The music also has a subdued feel to it, and at the worst of times you donít even realize itís playing. At the best of times, it sounds like Kung Fu Master, which is not a bad thing to be compared to if youíre a Master System cart.

All in all, the 5 rounds will give you a decent challenge the first time through if you donít know whatís what. But once you do, youíll find yourself clearing the game without dying quite easily while eating or chatting on the telephone. (Or maybe thatís just me!) Itís a fun way to spend an hour or so, or maybe even a day. The only problem shmuppers will have with it is the fact that your character is so large. It makes dodging sometimes a bitÖ dodgy. But youíll probably only notice it when you get to the last boss where the collision detection being a bit off (sometimes a bullet skims the bottom of your cloud and you die!) and his attacks being a bit of a tight squeeze to avoid, will give you a few troubles.

All in all, a very balanced game in terms of getting powered back up when you die and I think fairness in shooters is missing these days in the haste to make the hardest, most frantic game. Make it hard, but make it fair dammit! (Like R-Type Delta, perhaps the fairest, hard game out there! Puns certainly intended.)


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This is level one. And YES that is a flying pig head. Bacon anyone?

[ as long as you make a good sandwich out of it - Felix the Cat ]
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Hereís the first level boss. Make the Colonel proud.
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Tell me something I DONíT know old man.
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This is one of those midlevel bosses. Nothing difficult here.
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Hereís what happens when you kill him. The little door opens! Pick the weapon that looks like 5 red guys!
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Yeah there it is! The one I selected with my marshmellow.

[ shouldn't you be roasting it instead of playing with it? - Felix the Cat ]
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The second level boss gets a little faster but nothing special. Hit his head.

More levels? This way!
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Ah, the Great Wall of China never looked better.
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The midlevel boss in this round needs to get in shape. Work him out.

[ surprised that cloud can support him - Felix the Cat ]
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What were they thinking? Some kind of monk with terminator shades? Look, itís Cain from Kung Fu The Legend ContinuesÖ
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Level four gets a bit harder. Unfortunately the pic is no indication. :)
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Hereís the midlevel boss. Do you get the idea?
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The Almighty Darius Wave Weapon!

[ red bananas! red bananas! - Felix the Cat ]
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This guy can be a bit of a bitch if youíre not paying attention. (e.g.: on the phone! Hehe)
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Midboss here looks really weirdÖ
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See! I told you the pea shots came out of the wave! Gets sorta hard here if you die.
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Final boss! Tremble in his presence! Watch that iffy collision detection!
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Thatís it man! Burn! BURN! (ahem.)
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The ending.
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More of the ending.

[how exciting - Felix the Cat ]
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The end, of the, well, ending. I am the GREAT CLOUD MASTER! Bow down! I am the Alpha and the Omega! (sorry, trying to make it more exciting that it really is.)
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Cheers for that one Mark :)
I haven't played Cloud Master but it looks suspiciously like Chuka Taisen (and knowing my luck it probably is). Chuka Taisen was a decent little game though, very sorta-cutesy if you get my drift, with some very Darius like gameplay and a lot of tricks up it's sleeves :) - Felix the Cat


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