Shockman Review

Shockman doesn't give you as many weapons or explosions as some other run-and-gun action games, but it's decent nonetheless.

Shockman didn't make a big impression when it was originally released for the TurboGrafx-16 back in 1991, and it's not going to stir any waves now that it's available for download from the Wii's Virtual Console shop. Apart from being a solidly designed 2D run-and-gun action game, there's nothing about Shockman that distinguishes it from countless other similar games. Nor does it warrant a purchase from the Virtual Console shop if you haven't already bought full-tilt games, such as Contra III or Gunstar Heroes first.

Shockman gets his look from Mega Man, but the game itself plays more like Contra.
Shockman gets his look from Mega Man, but the game itself plays more like Contra.

Although Shockman is often compared to Mega Man because both characters look like goofy androids, the game shares more in common with traditional action romps, such as Contra or Ghouls 'N Ghosts. Five of the game's eight levels have multiple sections in which you move from left to right or from ground to ceiling while shooting at enemies and jumping between platforms. The other three levels are forced scrolling stages that send you underwater or into the skies in vehicles to blast away at enemies and dodge floating obstacles. Overall, the level layouts aren't particularly memorable, but you will find that they consistently test your reflexes with all of the flame turrets, falling debris, and gun-toting robots that constantly appear. Some may find the game too difficult because it's hard to come by health recovery items. Playing through with a friend in the two-player mode makes the going a little easier, though the tradeoff for doubling up your firepower is that you both share the same health meter. In either case, if you happen to run out of health, you can continue from the beginning of the current level. The boss battles at the end of each level provide the game's best moments. The regular enemies are small creatures that tend to simply hover and shoot, while bosses are large beasts that tend to move around a lot and blanket the screen with firepower. The boss attacks are visually interesting and the process of jumping over or sneaking under them while trading laser fire is genuinely fun.

Bosses vary in size. This beast will extend its neck to chomp you.
Bosses vary in size. This beast will extend its neck to chomp you.

Compared to some of the other 2D action games on offer in the Virtual Console shop, Shockman isn't all that elaborate or extravagant. Even though you can play as a male or female character, you're stuck using the same arm-cannon weapon for the entire game. It has rapid fire and charged shot capabilities, but after a few minutes of shooting enemies with the same bullets over and over, you can't help wishing the developers had included a spread gun, homing missiles, or some other weapons for variety's sake. On top of that, the graphics and audio don't exactly inspire "oohs" and "aahs." The backdrops have multiple scrolling layers, but there's not much moving in the background, and the same enemies are recycled constantly. Explosions are low-key, while appealing visual effects for such things as transparent objects and massively sized characters are employed sparingly. The accompanying sound effects are equally unimpressive, though the soundtrack does offer a few pulse-pounding moments. For the Wii's part, it emulates the game just fine. The action never slows down and the graphics never flicker, even when a boss fills the screen with bubbles or bombs. The controls only require two buttons, so the Wii Remote is comfortable to use, and you can easily get a co-op game going by synching up another Wii Remote or plugging in a GameCube controller.

Ultimately, Shockman is best suited for people who have an addict's hunger for 2D action games. It's a decent run-and-gun romp, but it doesn't offer as much variety or assail the player's senses with snazzy visual effects as some of the other 2D bullet fiestas that are available in the Virtual Console shop (namely, Contra III and Gunstar Heroes). As such, most people would probably be better served and better satisfied by one of those other games. However, if you've played all those other games to death and feel like you need yet another game that involves a character saving the world by shooting at things, then you won't be disappointed with Shockman.

The Good
It's like Contra with fewer weapons and explosions
bosses are interesting and require some skills to beat
The Bad
Weapons, enemies, and level designs often seem plain
not as visually intense as other run-and-gun shooters
may be too challenging for some players
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Shockman More Info

  • First Released 1992
    • TurboGrafx-16
    Average Rating28 Rating(s)
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    Developed by:
    Published by:
    Nintendo, NCS, Hudson Soft, Konami, Hudson Entertainment, Hudson, extreme Co.,Ltd.
    2D, Platformer, Action
    Content is generally suitable for all ages. May contain minimal cartoon, fantasy or mild violence and/or infrequent use of mild language.
    Mild Fantasy Violence