Irem, legendary editor of famous Shoot them Up (R-Type 1 & 2, X-Multiply ...) tries its talents in Run'n'Gun on its M-92 hardware, with Gunforce. SNK launches on its side the young Neo Geo system, with a line-up as impressive as varied: Beat them Up with Ninja Combat, Shoot with ASO II, platform with Magician Lord, racing with Riding Hero... and among other things, the Run'n'Gun is also featured on the 16-bit, with the unique Cyber Lip. The Neo Geo displays 4096 colors from a 65,536 palette, in a maximum resolution of 320x224. It simultaneously displays 380 sprites and a maximum size of 16x512 for them. The M-92 (revision A here) displays only 512 colors from 2048, but its resolution is 320x240 max. Regarding the animation, no information about the number of sprites and their size can be announced, but given the slowdowns seen in games like In the Hunt, Undercover Cops or Mystic Riders, one can assume a slight inferiority in comparison to SNK hardware. The sound of the beast uses a main chip Yam 2151 at 4Mhz against a 2610 at 8Mhz on Neo. Cyber Lip starts this duel very significantly advantaged by its hardware and its size, 50 Mb against 16 Mb for Gunforce.
And no mystery graphics side, the difference is obvious. Cyber Lip is part of of first games released and doesn't exploit the enormous potential of the Neo Geo, but it's still very pleasing to the eye. Colorful, detailed, with varied levels and bosses, especially well designed and huge! There's also some nice little intermediary scenes: it's beautiful, but yet doesn't match the sublime Magician Lord. Gunforce is looking quite poor in comparison: dull, messy, dish... There are not many passages in the game that raise the graphic level! Only vehicles and characters are a cut above the backgrounds, that it must be said, are quite ugly.
CYBER LIP.................... 74%
Irem's game is significantly less steep than Cyber Lip, still without displaying something we could define as flexible or smooth. Gunforce steps in animation are slightly higher for a majority of sprites, and the action shows a bit more punchy too. The big downside are the jumps, which could be described as space flights! The inertia has not been very well managed at this level and disrupts the gameplay a bit, as we shall see later. Cyber Lip is catching up, with its backgrounds and Bosses more dynamic than its rival: it's a pity that less care was allocated to main characters and other enemies.
CYBER LIP.................... 70%
As usual, in terms of sound, the megs will speak! Let's not turn around the table: Gunforce's soundtrack totally sucks. The music is crappy and repetitive, technically hardly worthy of a NES. The sound effects are just as ridiculous, like the sounds of helicopter blades, shootings, explosions, and the rare - and ugly - digitized voices: there is nothing to raise the level, it's pretty pathetic for an game arcade. Cyber Lip is far from being an audio reference on the Neo Geo, but it proves to have nothing in common with its rival: high-quality voices, extremely numerous during the action and in kinematics (several minutes total!), pretty good themes fitting well the action, effects varied and perfectly integrated. Only a few sounds are a little cheap and tarnish the table, but you'll understand that here, SNK's title domination is supreme.
CYBER LIP.................... 77%
One side or the other, it is not very long! So yes, the Run'n'Gun is like the Beat 'em Up, and so not meant to last for ages like an RPG. Yes, but still! There must be an average length fitting well. A game which is a little difficult to finish and offers a great challenge, it's a good thing. If it offers long and varied stages it's even better, and if the player still wants to play even when he cleared the game, this is perfect! About Gunforce, the challenge is present, but this is more likely to come from gameplay problems than anything else: ouch! Six stages cleared in about twenty minutes, that's quick. Frustrating because of its gameplay, it looks like nobody would like to try again! Cyber Lip is less difficult and much more accessible, giving a good challenge in 1CC. Seven levels, branches to take with possible turns in elevators. Its scenario is more taking than Gunforce, providing a nice ambiance. Speaking of pure life, the game is cleared within thirty minutes, so it's a little better than its rival. Playing cooperative too, Cyber Lip can still be an opportunity for some fun games with a friend, as it's less daunting than Gunforce. The lifetime anyway is still clearly not the strong point of our two softs!
CYBER LIP.................... 59%
In Gunforce, control of the weapon's orientation combined with moves is pretty well managed and does not disturb the progression. SNK game allows two levels of jumps, climbing ladders but also cling to the bars and pull down. In both games you can get down from a platform and turn around during a jump. Contact with the enemies or shots will be fatal in Cyber Lip, while in Gunforce crossing an enemy soldier does nothing. The arsenal: six weapons + a shield for the Neo Geo title, against five weapons for Irem's, BUT the possibility to take vehicles like helicopters, jeeps, motorcycles, tanks and use enemy facilities (towers, elevators). The extra bit of Cyber Lip is that one can select the weapon - among those retrieved during the action - at any time by pressing C, which is impossible in Gunforce. Now the flaws of each game! As mentioned above, Cyber Lip is quite steep and there is no vehicle: the game is basic, but pleasant, with a difficulty increasing but not off-putting, various weapons and huge Bosses. Gunforce is full of good intentions like for the diagonal shot, vehicles, more flexible controls... but it packs several major flaws: the jumps are poorly managed, with the heroes 'floating' in the air at each pulse! So, it's not easy to be precise with platforms, and also to avoid enemy fire during jumps. And that's where the rub: the main character packs a way too big hitbox, so you can easily be touched by the diagonal shots. In addition, our moves are relatively slow compared to the speed of enemy fire. These are excessively fast, and if you don't anticipate (which implies to be familiar with the game, like in R-Type... follow me?) you die a bunch of times without understanding anything. Similarly, using a vehicle have you being less mobile, but anyway you'll still be killed by the first shot cashed: hot! Cyber Lip, without offering so many innovations and game mechanics, still proves way more fun with its better gameplay.
CYBER LIP.................... 69%
Our two rivals for this match they don't really incarnate Run'n'Gun references, it is undeniable. This being said, Cyber Lip, without "excelling", ends a good notch above Gunforce. Featuring a realization more polished than its opponent, SNK's title have also on its side a better life and gameplay. In the Irem's title, only the animation is slightly above, and not for much. The company will realize a much better sequel with the excellent Gunforce II, three years later. Meanwhile, Cyber Lip crushes Gunforce in this match, without dazzle!