Unranked: Cyber Lip

Cyber Lip
Neo Geo

I did not own a Neo Geo, nor did anyone in my neighborhood really, so I did not play games like Cyber Lip until many years later when a friend had one in college. I would see pictures of Neo Geo games in magazines like Electronic Gaming Monthly and Game Pro, but no one had one, so I could not play it. I seem to remember they were kind of hard to acquire anyway?

Cyber Lip was a game I would see in magazines and think it looked like a cool shooter that mimicked games like Contra. I had heard of the game, but never got to play it. I did think the name of the game is pretty dumb and now that I have played through it, wow, it is even dumber in context.

So, the plot of Cyber Lip goes something like this: In the super futuristic year of 2016, space colonies were approved to help deal with overpopulation. In 2019, a colony with androids….who were overpopulated too…..?????…well, anyway, it is found that many of them are defective. The computer Cyber Lip is created to control them, but after an alien invasion in the not too distant future of 2030 Cyber Lip is reprogrammed for evil….did they switch it to evil like that Krusty The Clown doll….????…and you must stop the aliens and destroy Cyber Lip. But there is a big, never explained in a sequel, twist at the end. We will discuss that later in this episode when we discuss my most recent play through the game in current times.

Since this is a Neo Geo game, no coverage in Nintendo Power, but the January 1992 issue of Game Pro mentions the game in a list of Neo Geo games and comments that it is “an attractive looking cart, but the game play lacks originality.” That is a fairly accurate summation of this game.

In more recent times, Retro Gamer Magazine commented, “The levels are colorful but fairly lacking in variation, but the bosses are quite impressive and do show off the systems’ ability to have massive sprites churning out projectiles by the dozen.”

The cover for Cyber Lip is pretty interesting. It is an extremely colorful action shot of the protagonists with the Cyber Lip computer in the background. This might be a flippant statement, or perhaps very obvious, but I feel like this cover was very influenced by late eighties anime. The first time I looked at it while doing research for the podcast, I thought, “wow, this looks a bit like Akira.” Maybe?

Cyber Lip has been reissued a few times. It was first ported to the Neo Geo CD in 1995. It was also reissued to modern consoles in 2018, which is how I played it via the Nintendo Switch.

My commentary about Cyber Lip needs to begin with a question: Was this game intended to be taken seriously or more as a parody? There was never a sequel, and I could not find a lot of information online about it, so it is hard to tell if this game is playing it straight, but a bit campy, which let us face it a lot of these shooters do, or if it has a more parodist attempt.

What is good about Cyber Lip: The aliens, especially the bosses, in this game look really cool. I am a big fan of Contra style body horror in shooters, and this game does it really well. Speaking of Contra, it is apparent that was a big influence on this game, including one boss that is a just about copy of the final boss. It is really blatant! Many years later a Contra game would tip their hat right back and have a boss very much in the vein of Cyber Lip’s bottom screen boss. Huh.

There turns out to be a reason for it, but when I first played this, I really dug the super campy communications you receive between levels from the president and others. It is super weird and, again, campy. Cyber Lip never takes itself too seriously and is better for it. More about that president though in a moment.

That is mostly it for what is good about this game. In general, Cyber Lip is a pretty mediocre game. Something that drives me nuts in this game is the analog shooting. Unlike Contra and other shooters you can only shoot up, down, left, or right. This is very frustrating and leads to a lot of lost lives. This is a huge deficiency on this game and I am glad I turned on unlimited continues while playing because I died a lot in early levels while trying to get accustomed to the game.

This is another game where jumps are very stiff. The older I get, the more I notice how ineffectively implemented jumping mechanics are in many games. Jumps are very heavy in this game and don’t feel great. Not every game will be Mega Man II of course, or even Contra, but it hurts this game a lot.

There is also a Mega Man style, speaking of, boss rush at the end after you decide whether to go up or down after levels. From what I have read online, it does not matter much which way you go. I kept going down and still ended up in the same place, where you meet a random assortment of previous bosses again. This is a fine idea and all, but in a game I was already not enjoying I found it a bit tiresome as I just wanted the experience of the game to be over and replaying bosses I did not find interesting in the first place felt like chores.

And then there is the ending…so in the last few levels, the person you speak to between them begins acting kind of weird. Something is clearly up and you find out after beating the game when he proclaims that now that Cyber Lip is defeated, the real invasion can begin now.

So, was he an alien all along? Was Cyber Lip even reprogrammed? I am so confused. We never get a sequel for this game, but was this supposed to just stand on its own and be like “whoops, you caused an alien invasion by your actions in this game.” I guess unless someone involved with the game comments we will never know, and I was never ever to find any information online about it.

Is Cyber Lip worth checking out? Sure. It is a cheap game on most modern systems and will not require a ton of time investment to get through it. There are just so many other classic games in this genre and this game certainly does not hold up to Contra, Gun Star Heroes, or Metal Slug for sure.

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