Mech games seem to be a divisive lot. Some people like piloting big, hulking robots with a huge arsenal wreaking havoc, and some can't be bothered to deal with balancing heat levels and tinkering around with cumbersome movement. Konami's Cybernator could be the mech game for mech haters. In it, you guide a huge yet agile robot through a variety of 2D stages, helped along by some generous physics, streamlined action, and great boss encounters. However, the difficulty of these battles might also keep you from enjoying the game to its fullest.
There are no simulation aspects to Cybernator; it's strictly arcade action. Your mech has a slow, heavy gait, but is otherwise quite versatile. It can quickly dash a fair distance, and you get precision control of its floaty leaps. It's a cinch to jump one way and then quickly turn to smash a foe that is coming up behind you. You can switch your attack method between a hefty punch, machine-gun fire, and three special weapons (provided that you find them), all of which can be upgraded with pickups scattered throughout each level. You're also able to aim your machine gun in all directions, and lock your aim so that you can fire ahead while moving backward. You won't just be platforming horizontally throughout the game, either. Some levels play out like an automatically scrolling space shooter, and in one level you're free-falling toward the surface of a planet. These are nice distractions to help avoid monotonous design. The one caveat to all of this is that the aim-locking feature can be very cumbersome to get used to, and you'll need to master it just to survive the many obstacles thrown your way.
You'll also have to be quick on your feet to defeat Cybernator's menacing bosses, which are arguably the most impressive--and perhaps frustrating--part of the game. Many of these foes are very large and elaborate, and they come one after another, often accompanied by drones and other nuisances trying to keep you at bay. The very first boss encounter has you wailing away at a power cell that is being lifted into a dangerous weapon, while two cannons continually home in on your position. A later encounter has you taking out antiaircraft cannons while worrying about a floating ship that releases explosives on your head. These are intense and engaging--provided, of course, that you've mastered the controls and learned how to deal with these encounters (through multiple failed attempts, no doubt).
At least the boss battles, with their large sprites, look good. There are other nice graphical touches that add to the sensation of controlling a mech, such as the visible damage that walls and floors take when you hit them, and the puny humans that pop out of any enemy mechs you destroy. Unfortunately, you can't stomp on them.
Cybernator appears short-lived, with seven somewhat quick stages. That said, due to the difficulty of the boss encounters and the fact that you start off with only three continues and no spare lives, it might take quite a few hours to conquer this game. It has a healthy variety of scenarios, sports large and challenging bosses, and does a nice job of balancing the heavy-mech sensation with flexible mechanics. Just make sure that you've got the dexterity and patience to handle it all before dropping 800 Wii points on this one.