Cyberun, ZX Spectrum

Released in 1986, Cyberun was arguably Ultimate Play the Game‘s most successful Spectrum game after the label’s sale to US Gold. The game received a Crash Smash in issue 28 of Crash magazine. Although it really shouldn’t have…

Who exactly wrote Cyberun is still not clear, although the game does display similarities between Lunar Jetman and Jet Pac – especially in terms of gameplay and sound effects. It is considered by some to be a sequel to Lunar Jetman, although that is hotly disputed. I certainly don’t think it is.

Cyberun is a scrolling gravity game with shoot ’em up elements. You control a spacecraft, called ‘The Crystal Ship’, that starts off as a bare-bones chassis in need of enhancement. Nearby is a plinth with an engine enhancement, which gives the craft a much needed boost once collected. Other ship enhancements are hidden around the landscape and it is your job to go out and find them, then go looking for individual parts of a rocket that will allow you to escape the planet.

The Crystal Ship has front-firing lasers by default, and these are used for blasting any aliens that get too close. This can be further enhanced by finding and collecting a laser/plasma weapon, and homing missiles, that are also hidden away somewhere on the planet surface.

The most difficult aspects of Cyberun gameplay are: keeping the craft re-fuelled, and also not exploding due to collisions with spawning enemies.

A fuel meter is displayed on the right of the screen and the rate at which the craft consumes fuel is related to how much you use your thrusters and boosters. There are two ways of refuelling. You can either collect yellow fuel tanks, which are sparsely located across the map, or you can hover above a yellow fuel pod and let it drip fuel upwards, which you can catch to refuel.

Avoiding collisions with enemies is a different matter entirely, though, and hanging on to your shields in Cyberun is pretty much impossible. Enemies spawn and come at you from all angles and it only takes three or fours hits to kill you. So you’re supposed to shoot them to keep them at bay, but that’s not always possible in practise. Acquiring the homing missiles helps, but it’s still an impossible task – trying not to explode. In fact: I really have to question if the person who designed and programmed Cyberun ever completed it without cheating. I highly doubt they did… Surviving long enough to collect all the ship parts is hard enough – never mind building the escape rocket, or filling the energy tank that’s required to power the rocket… No. The only way to complete this game, unfortunately, is to use an unlimited shields cheat. Otherwise you’re exploding every two minutes.

While Cyberun looks, sounds, and feels good to play at a basic, fundamental level, it’s really not a game that anyone should invest much time into playing now. Trying to play the game without cheats will just drive you mad. I also have to question that Crash magazine review… Either the reviewers didn’t quite understand what was required to complete the game, or they used cheats themselves, or they were paid-off by US Gold to give the game a good review and to ignore the fact that it was basically unplayable. Had they fully understood what was required to complete the game and play it normally, they would almost certainly have not given it a Crash Smash. Cyberun is basically an unfair game that is impossible to complete without cheating. Which is bullshit, frankly.

Personally, I think that this game sullies the great name of Ultimate Play the Game and should never have been released in the state that it’s in. Enemy spawn rates should have been lower and the game should be finishable without forcing the player to cheat. You may say “nobody’s forcing you to cheat” – well… I say to you: YOU complete this game without cheating! You will not be able to, I can guarantee it.

More: Cyberun on Wikipedia


Click the image above for our guide to playing Cyberun.

How to play Cyberun…

First you need to grab the essential components needed to enhance your ship. The Boosters and Thrusters are found near the start area and should be collected immediately. These will give you more manoeuvrability.

You then need to grab the remaining ship parts, before then building the rocket to escape the planet.

Next, find the Photon Beam (the two u-shaped dimples that look like boobs) which should be on a cloud to the right of the start area. The cloud is above a yellow ground-based refuelling pod. You can’t use the Photon Beam yet, though – unless you already collected the Laser.

Then get the homing missiles. This should be on a cloud not too far from the start area, above one of the two wide cave entrances (the one with a crystal in the middle of the cave entrance).

Contrary to some internet advice, the remaining parts DO move around. The Grab Arm and Laser can be located on the surface, or can spawn below in a cave. Finding them can be a real pain, though, unless you get lucky. If you get unlucky they might not spawn at all (happened to me at least once), in which case you’ll have no choice but to restart the game.

Pick up the Sail Connector if you find it. You can also collect the Sail if you like, but bear in mind that it will detach itself automatically from your ship if you enter the caves. You’ll then have to pick it back up from where you left it when you emerge from the caves. I do believe that it is required when leaving the planet.

When you have the extra weapons and Grab Arm you can then start assembling the escape rocket. Each piece is usually located on a random plinth in the caves below the planet, although sometimes pieces may spawn on the surface. There are eight pieces in total. The rocket must be assembled in a specific order and each piece should be dropped onto the white plinth (the one with two hovering fuel tanks either side of it), one at a time, until it is complete.

When it comes to rocket piece seven – the mesh box object – you need to pick it up and mine at least ten crystals (using the laser) while carrying it. As you continue to mine crystals you will see the mesh box becomes filled-up. It will have the letter ‘C’ in the middle. You’ll know when it’s ready because your craft will turn yellow, indicating that it’s full. Return it to the rocket and drop it on top.

Finally, after that tiresome process, you only need one more piece to complete it – the nose cone. Go find the nose cone and return to the rocket to escape the planet. Don’t forget to pick up the sail if you left it behind somewhere – you need all the ship’s parts attached to enter the rocket and escape. After it leaves the planet you’ll get a banal tune and brief congratulatory message. Punch the air if you see fit. And curse the programmer who made this insanely difficult and tiresome game…

If you’re having trouble with Cyberun you should consider using POKEs. These can cause unexpected side-effects, though.

Infinite fuel = POKE 52351,115 + POKE 52352,0
Infinite shields = POKE 36740,30 + POKE 36741,0

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