The tenth game released on the Neo Geo MVS, Cyber-Lip is a Contra-style run ‘n gun side scrolling shooter internally developed by SNK. While the Neo Geo would eventually be famous for its shooters, with run ‘n gun series Metal Slug being the biggest one, Cyber-Lip was not one that contributed to that reputation in any shape or form (Spoiler warning: Cyber-Lip is a pretty average game).
So what’s the story of Cyber-Lip? WHAT IS a Cyber-Lip? For answers, we must travel to the far-fledged future of 2016. A Malthusian overpopulation crisis forces the Federal Government to build a space colony (or maybe multiple ones) that would be able to house a considerable amount of the world population. The government appoints colony C05 as a military complex used for earth defense against the alien invasion. The plan is to use military androids controlled by a supercomputer called Cyber-Lip, which is actually a giant floating cybernetic mouth that talks. The supercomputer then goes rouge (naturally) and is using the military androids to launch its own invasion against humanity.
As is with these types of games, (A) shoots, and (B) jumps. You can hold onto several weapons and switch between them with the (C) button. You can jump higher with up + Jump. You can crouch but you can’t move while crouching. Instead, you can roll with down + Jump. It won’t make you go through bullets and you can’t shoot during the animation, but at least you maintain your lower crouching profile. And it looks kinda cool. You can’t shoot diagonally, but the bigger problem is that you can’t shoot downward in the air or at anytime. This can get very irritating when you are standing on a higher platform, fighting enemies below. The only time you are able to shoot downward is when hanging off a ceiling railing.
But even with such limitation, Cyber-Lip is pretty easy. You’re never swarmed with an overwhelmingly crazy number of enemies. The bosses have pretty easy patterns. And you get to keep your weapons even after dying. So you usually have access to pretty much all weapons at anytime. And you also get to ride on a flying craft thingie after you respawn for a few seconds. So there’s plenty of help thrown at you.
Despite that (or maybe because of that), Cyber-Lip really doesn’t hold a candle next to the best in the genre. It doesn’t play as smoothly as Contra or Metal Slug. I particularly don’t like how some of the weapons lag a bit, with a noticeable start-up time. And they’re not balanced out by being extra powerful or useful or anything. There are “branching paths” later on, but they’re not really branching paths. After beating a stage, you ride an elevator and choose whether to go up or down. Both choices will lead you to the same next stage. It’s just that one of the choices would randomly trigger an event stage, and it’s always the same mini sewer-level with a moving robo-platform.
Cyber-Lip also doesn’t look very impressive for a NEO GEO title either, with pretty small stiff sprites and a generally slow pace of action, even compared to some Genesis titles (like Alien Soldier for example. Then again, it is unfair to compare anything to Alien Soldier). Some of the bosses, however, look pretty cool, even if one of them does skirt on the side of plagiarism. And Cyber-Lip does have an impressive amount of voice-over dialogue (all done by the man himself, Michael Beard). All the cutscenes are fully voiced. And there’s plenty of contextual voice-clips in-game.,like “LOOK OUT BELOW” when near bottomless pits, or “WATCH OUT BEHIND YOU!” when enemies appear behind you, or “I’M A GONER!” when you die & lose your last life.
But Cyber-Lip’s most defining moment is easily the ending. Throughout the game, you are being ordered around by the President of the Federal Government. He seems quite keen & intensely focused on getting you to destroy the Cyber-Lip supercomputer, no matter the cost. Just before fighting the Cyber-Lip, the supercomputer contacts you, saying that it was “EVILLY REPROGRAMED” and that it did not go “INSAIN” on its own volition. But you won’t believe a maniacal supercomputer hell bent on the destruction of humanity, right?
Well, once you beat the final boss, the truth is revealed in the ending:
And that’s it. You beat the game. CONGRATULATIONS! You destroyed humanity’s only means of defense against the invading alien force. What’s so clever is that the Alien invasion factor was kind of foreshadowed in the introduction, but brushed aside as a minor detail (it’s first mention in the 6th line of the 3rd text scroll in the intro). And for the whole game you’re fighting androids & other cybernetic robot enemies & bosses, not aliens (aside from a couple of “fleshy” enemies and bosses). Weirdly, this is not the first downer ending out of SNK. NAM-1975 & The Super Spy both had less than cheerful endings. And I wonder if there’re more dark endings in upcoming SNK games.