Release Date: August 1989
Developer: Opera House
Genre: Shoot ‘Em Up
Cloud Master is another horizontal scrolling shoot ‘em up, the genre which seems to have been popular since the beginning of time. You are Michael Chen, hermit, and your goal in life is to earn the title of Cloud Master. In order to do this, you’ve been meditating in the mountainous regions of China. Unfortunately, it’s not all study and meditation, as dark forces have descended upon you and you need to wipe them out to earn your rightful title of Cloud Master!
Michael flies on a cloud and shoots his normal shot at oncoming enemies with Button 1. Bullets are unlimited and their strength can be upgraded by collecting jars with a P on them. There are six different levels of strength, topping out with a vertical beam with two bullets on the ends. Shooting Gyoza and Shumai will sometimes release these jars. Speed is increased with the F jars, making the cloud move faster. The A jar gives the rapid-fire upgrade, which allows you to hold Button 1 down to automatically fire and even works with special weapons that fire with Button 2.
At designated points through each level are mid-bosses which take a lot of shots to put down, but when you do, they open a door to the special item shop. Here you have a choice of four items, I hope you have the manual at the ready or knowledge of Chinese writing, but they’re easy enough to tell apart. There are flame guard weapons, which can circle you, shoot vertically, and vertically plus behind. The dragon fire, which circles Michael, then zooms forward and circles again. Not very manageable. The four image shot, which shoots diagonally from Michael. The crescent shot, which comes in the two and four projectile variety. And a series of bombs: the standard bomb which must connect with an enemy to do damage; then the bouncing bomb, which hops until it hits an enemy; the search bomb, which zooms forward once it hits the ground; the scatter bomb, which hits the ground and bounces up in six different pieces, damaging everything they touch.
Different players will prefer different weapons based on their play style, but I really enjoyed the Scatter Bomb. You can also upgrade the power of the secondary weapons with the S jars. The secondary weapons aren’t necessary to get through five levels of action, but they can save your butt when they’re used at just the right time. At the end of each level is a boss. None of them are particularly difficult once you figure out their pattern. It’s just a matter of threading the needle to avoid some of their projectiles. Extra guys come every 200,000 points and you are awarded with 100,000 when you finish the level, so they aren’t too difficult to come by. When you beat the final boss, you become the Cloud Master, but then the game loops, so you can play until your heart is content.
Michael Chen has a River City Ransom quality to him, but the backgrounds look like they were put together in MS Paint and the enemies blur by too quickly to see.
The music consists of short stereotypical Chinese sounding loops. They aren’t particularly pleasant.
There aren’t any new frontiers being broken here. Secondary weapons aren’t on a timer, which is nice (unlike Fantasy Zone), powerups are somewhat easy to come by.
When you power up, the game is easy, but once you get hit by that stray bullet, you’re going to want to start over again in order to get strong.
Fun Factor: 2.0
Becoming the Cloud Master is a mediocrely fun time, it started to wear out its welcome, so I started rewinding as necessary.
Overall Grade: 2.0
Cloud Master earns a C. It’s a run of the mill shoot ‘em up, but it isn’t a bad time by any means.