As the Switch approaches its first year on the market, it’s definitely no stranger to shoot’em up games. If you combine the indie games with the Neo Geo arcade classics, there are plenty of choices to ponder. As such, it can be difficult choosing the right one for you, and that often comes down to gameplay style and multiplayer components. While Aperion Cyberstorm features a multitude of modes of play with up to 5 players simultaneously shooting, it does so without any sense of style or uniqueness to keep it from being forgotten after the next set of games drop on the eShop.
At its core this game is a twin-stick shooter, where you use one analog stick to move your ship around (via a top-down viewpoint) and the other stick fires your weapons in the direction you press. Since this game is designed to utilize the Switch’s feature of splitting the Joy-Con controllers to play multiplayer, you can also use the face buttons as a substitute for the right analog stick, which works pretty well.
There are several modes of play, including a campaign that allows you to play solo or with friends (up to 5 players total). Typically I enjoy going through story modes like this, but here it’s a bit out of place because the game is delivering exposition as you’re trying to shoot enemies. It feels awkward and I can’t help but think it would have been better to deliver this information in between levels or even via voiceovers. Having said that, the story is pretty inconsequential anyway, which makes me wonder why it’s even a part of the game in the first place.
The game shines a bit brighter in the Versus and Onslaught modes if you have friends around to join in. Although the game is fully playable in tabletop mode, the Switch’s screen is entirely too small for five people to gather around and find enjoyment. The game is best played on a large TV so you can easily keep track of your ships and the enemies. The game is quite chaotic with five people shooting at dozens of enemies in Onslaught, which is where you have to take out waves of enemies to progress to the next round. The Versus mode is self explanatory, but I do appreciate the extra work that went into customizing this. You have a wide variety of choices of rounds, from the standard be the last ship standing to a bunch of other objective based scenarios. Other things, such as number of lives and minutes and other settings can be tweaked to your liking as well. This is where I spent the majority of my time and it can be a great deal of fun with the right group of people.
Everything else about the game just feels average. The graphics are rather muted and disappointing. In fact, the game is a little too dark and even a bit muddy at times. I understand they’r going after that retro neon look, but so many other games look leagues better – like Pac-Man Championship Edition 2 Plus or Graceful Explosion Machine. The music is OK, but it’s nothing you haven’t heard before. The weapons and power-ups are decent, but again it’s nothing that will blow you away.
The genre has been around forever, way back with Asteroids and Defender in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, so an arcade space shooter really has to do something new and exciting to stand out. Unfortunately Aperion Cyberstorm never managed to hook me, or my friends that played a few rounds with me. The levels felt uninspired and the gameplay, while competent, felt like a million other games we had already played before. If you’re itching for a 5-player shooter with both co-op and competitive elements, this one will provide some entertainment. But as a solo experience it’s pretty generic. When it came to competitive multiplayer my friends and I constantly returned to Astro Duel Deluxe, a game that is simpler in some ways, but also has that special sauce that kept us coming back for more. Still, this game’s definitely worth considering if you’re a fan of the genre and want to have another multiplayer game ready to go.
Aperion Cyberstorm was reviewed using a final retail Nintendo Switch download code provided by the publisher.