One of Masaya's earlier games, Schbibin Man in a fairly straightforward platform actioner. Playing either Tasuke (male) or Kyapiko (female), you have to make your way across many levels with just a sword to take down an army of robotic creatures while avoiding floating mines and lava pits. The game is not completely linear, as you start off on a map screen and have to decide which route to take to reach the final boss. This means that you don't have to play every level to win - although certain levels will allow you to obtain special power-up items. One of these (the most important) is the ability to fire a ball of energy from your sword - very useful when timed right as it can take out a whole line of enemies.
The levels are basically of three types - a park, a city and an interior of a factory. Each level is also presented as day or night, giving a limited sort of variety to them and most are fairly short, ending with a boss. This is always either a giant robot (which just involves whacking it as fast as possible) or a flying dragon, which needs a little more skill to defeat. While the park and city levels are similar in structure, the factory tends to be a little more platformy, and requires better timing for all the moving platforms.
Graphically, Schbibin Man is a little rough around the edges, particularly compared with its sequels. Sprites are small and bright, but backgrounds are a little messy. Sound however is excellent. A great title tune and in-game music is made better with some typical Masaya sampled drums. There's also a few snippets of sampled speech.
Despite the fact that this is a pretty simple and not particularly attractive platformer, I really quite enjoy this game. The levels don't spew forth random enemies, so it is possible to learn the enemy patterns and this gives you a certain satisfaction. But mostly, I think I play it for the music. It's not too hard too and worth completing if you can. I can see many people writing this game off at a glance, but don't be too harsh on it and give it a go. Two player simultaneous play is also a nice bonus.
NCS, at the time, was not one of the greatest developers for the PC Engine. Nazo no Masquerade, Gaia no Monsho, Energy. Not exactly titles that fill you with excitement for their newest release. However, Shubibinman was quite a pleasant surprise.
Taking control of either Tasuke or Kyapiko, your aim is to make it to the end of each level and defeat the boss. The three types of level are Park, Town & Factory, with bosses usually being a Dragon or a Robot. Once a level's been completed you are sometimes given power ups or the option to buy various health replenishment items or a more powerful 'Shubibin'. Your energy bar is directly linked to your life meter, with your score acting like experience points. You start with a fifty percent bar and it increases ten percent for every twenty thousand points you get.
Graphically the game is about average for that time. There seems to be only one set background for each type of level. For example the town stages seem to be the same recurring buildings in every stage. Although this isn't a major problem, a little bit more variety would have been nice. The sprites, although they only have a couple of frames of animation are well drawn and do the job perfectly. The map screen is as you would expect. Functional with very little flair. This is the only text heavy part of the game but should pose no problem to you. Sound.... Ah yes, the classic NCS drum machines and whiney BGM. But you know what? I LIKE it. It suits the game perfectly. Fair enough, it's not going to be as good as the music to something like Ys, but it matches the graphics - Nothing to write home about, yet not terrible.
Gameplay is your usual run & jump slasher. Slow paced, but still action packed enough to keep you interested. The enemies are pattern based, so you will get to learn them eventually. The bosses are a disappointment though. Dragon bosses seem to be a case of wait one side and attack, then dodge to the other side of the screen and repeat. Robot bosses are just hack as fast as possible and try to not get hit. Two player mode is simultaneous and gives you a special attack, used by charging one players attack then shooting the other player so they become the Shubibin. This can be used to devastating effect. The one thing that sets this aside from most other games of this genre is the fact that with there being a map, you can pretty much do the levels in any order you wish, which gives you hundreds of different routes to the last boss. Doing the levels in a different order will give you different power ups. These include a new suit that halves the damage you take, an instant charge Shubibin and a Silver Shubibin that does more damage than the regular Rainbow Shubibin.
Overall, this is a great little platformer that manages to get everything just right. Who needs Mega Man when you have Shubibinman? Not me that's for sure. The game also has 2 sequels, which are well worth checking out, especially the third game. Go on, give it a go. You may like it! 4/5