Flynn: No buts, Clu. That’s for users. Now, you’re the best Program that’s ever been written. You’re dogged and relentless, remember?
Clu: Let me at ‘em!
Flynn: That’s the spirit. Now keep that tank rolling, and I’ll try and cover you from this end. Go!
In Cyber Protocol, it’s you against the system with no backup. You will need to work fast, but be careful of the obstacles—some slow you down and some will terminate you.
OK, so this game looks a bit more like Pac Man than Tron, and you get a dot instead of a tank (bummer, tanks are fun…), but the whole cyber-punk feel seems to fit better with the Tron world. Cyber Protocol looks like a simple Pac Man style arena until you start moving.
Here, your avatar will continue to move in the specified direction until you run into something, even if it kills you. Ah, and there’s the rub; you need to quickly plot a course which will allow you to collect all the dots and bonuses you can, make it to the exit, and complete all the levels to reactivate your android friend while trying really hard to not die. You may get extra points for finishing quickly, but you get zilch for dying.
Thankfully, Cyber Protocol includes checkpoints so you aren’t stuck doing an entire level over if you get zapped. You probably guessed by the presence of checkpoints that the levels get challenging, and you would be right. The first couple of levels are fairly easy and let you get a good feel for how to move, allow you to plot a course to get as many goodies as possible, and introduce you to what things look like in the game world. Things, however, get more challenging quickly.
There is a good deal of pattern development and planning ahead. Don’t forget to make use of the (ZR) button; this will let you zoom out and see a little more of the map, but it only lasts as long as you hold the button down. You don’t get to see everything, but it can help you plan a couple moves ahead and come to grips with the traps you will invariably come across.
As with most Switch games, playing on the TV is great but the design of Cyber Protocol looks fine in handheld mode. Visually, Cyber Protocol is rich with ’80s-style neon lights and minimally detailed graphics. This isn’t so bad in the current gaming space, and the retro look is quite appropriate. The soundtrack is vintage, cheesy, ’80s electronica with a splash of Daft Punk. The music keeps the ears busy without being distracting, so it’s doing its job well.
Cyber Protocol comes with a regular mode for when you want to fly solo and an arcade mode which can handle up to four players. If you go with arcade/multiplayer, you get to race your opponent through the same maze with all the same bonus and hazard markers. Whoever finishes first wins, so be quick or be dead. In single player mode you get 100 levels of thumb twiddling fun where the layouts change, the traps change, and some of the mechanics change depending on which stage you are in. All of this adds up to a game which keeps the player engaged and challenged. For the really competitive types, there is a global leader board so you can gain fame and notoriety by putting up the big numbers.
One final suggestion I’ll throw out there is to leave the Joy-Con rumble set to on. There are some spots on the gaming grid with little square outlines. These are time traps, and if you stay too long on one you will die. Fortunately, as soon as you enter one of these spots the Joy-Con will start to rumble to let you know it’s time to get a move-on. These spots will reset after a few seconds so you can pass through them again if you wait long enough.
Review: Cyber Protocol (Nintendo Switch)
If you like a puzzle game where patterns and timing are critical, then you will like Cyber Protocol. With 100 levels to keep you busy for many hours, it’s a pretty good value for the money (especially at the sale price of $2.99 at the time this was published). If puzzle games with picky timing and perfect patterns frustrate you, however, then you may want to keep looking. You’ve almost reached your decision gate and I can’t spare you any more time. End of line.