If you’ve ever heard of Yacht Club Games, then chances are you’ve also heard of (and most likely played) “Shovel Knight.” The result of a very successful Kickstarter campaign, the title introduced the world not only to an adorable garden tool-wielding hero but also one of the best games in the 8-bit revival.

Now, we’re glad to report that more than six years after its release, Yacht Club Games’ next offering is just as polished — if not better. “Cyber Shadow,” which is now available for purchase on Best Buy, takes the best parts of the NES era and adds some modern flair.

Read on for a “Cyber Shadow” review alongside reasons why you should not sleep on it.

It Features 8-Bit Perfection

cyber1 You start the game in a pod of some kind, with only your robot L-gion by your side. Photo: bestbuy.com

Back in the 80s, pixel art (commonly known as 8-bit graphics) was essential because of the low-powered hardware at the time, which is why it saw an immediate decline with the introduction of 3D-capable consoles, like the Nintendo 64 and Sony PlayStation. These days, however, 8-bit graphics are best thought of as video gaming’s most characteristic visual style, one that is inextricably linked to it.

Yacht Club Games’ “Cyber Shadow” is one such game that lends itself to this style, favoring 8-bit art direction and simple game mechanics over ultra-realistic graphics and complicated control schemes. In fact, between the muted color palette, chiptune music and tough gameplay, it may all seem like familiar territory to any retro game enthusiast. But dig a bit deeper, and you’ll find that “Cyber Shadow” didn’t merely channel NES nostalgia but took all of that era’s best parts to concoct a surprisingly modern game.

Much like “Shovel Knight,” “Cyber Shadow” is an 8-bit 2D platformer that’s fined tuned to a T. In a dumb but effective plot that sounds like it came straight out of an 80s B-action movie, you play a cyber ninja named Shadow, who is in very bad shape. As the game opens, you find yourself hibernating in a pod of some kind, only to find out that synthetic lifeforms have taken over Mekacity and the rest of the world. ( Neat! ) You also realize that you’re the sole survivor in your whole ninja clan; your master has vanished, and a mad scientist by the name of Dr. Progen used the souls of your ninja allies to power an evil army. The scene is set, and you head out on a revenge-fueled journey.

While this premise itself warrants more than a couple of eye rolls from any critic, it’s all well-written for what it is — and the fact that there’s so much story in this little game demonstrates that it’s more than just a throwback. Yes, it’s all ridiculous, but that’s honestly what this game needs in order to shine.

It Takes You To the Techno-Inspired Landscape of Mekacity

cyber2 The game will throw a wide variety of enemies at you, from cyber soldiers to Transformers-like animals. Photo: bestbuy.com

And shine it did, because the 8-bit graphics and art direction work incredibly well together, giving you a fully-realized and stylized game world. Thanks to a beautiful hand-drawn look to the sprites, stellar NES-like cutscenes, a wide and detailed color palette and backgrounds that scroll in a mesmerizing parallax style, each of the 11 interconnected levels stands out and comes alive on its own. It’s easy to make a techno landscape like Mekacity feel cold and sterile, but that’s hardly the case here.

All of these work in tandem with the soundtrack as well. Composed by Enrique Martin, the infectious mix of moody, dramatic and exciting chiptune loops is easily one of the game’s greatest strengths. Whether you’re toughing it out in a boss fight or making your way through each level with precision and pixel-perfect movement, the OST provides a sonic landscape that will have you bobbing your head in no time.

It Lets You Dish Out Sword-Based Justice

cyber3 Amidst all the gameplay, "Cyber Shadow" also provides you with gorgeous NES-styled cutscenes. Photo: bestbuy.com

Of course, all of that presentation and charisma would be rendered pointless if the gameplay itself is no good. After all, a video game — especially one made as a love letter to 80s classics — should carry style and substance.

Thankfully, the “Cyber Shadow” gameplay mechanics aren’t just good; they’re amazing. Much like the studio’s debut release “Shovel Knight,” “Cyber Shadow” provides you with some of the most fluid and precise controls in any 2D platformer ever. Quick and responsive, the controls are tight — to the point that any mistake you make in the game is entirely your fault, and any achievement you get feels very rewarding.

But what are great controls without the level design that demands their mastery? “Cyber Shadow” sticks that landing as well, providing you with tough but balanced platforming levels that will test your hand-eye coordination. Make no mistake, the game is hard and you will die a lot, but you will also learn and in no time be able to zip past levels and enemies with deadly accuracy. Like the best 2D platformers, you will eventually be able to chain together jumps, slides, dashes and even slashes into an almost balletic movement — if ballet itself consisted of cyborg ninjas weaving through an army of robots.

Before that, you start the game with mostly standard fare. Shadow can jump, slash, jump and slash, and of course, die. Overcome the initial challenges, and you’ll find yourself gaining new abilities as the levels start testing your resolve and proficiency of Shadow’s abilities.

The game, of course, has a couple of setbacks. There’s the exaggerated knockback that occurs when you get hit, which feels like a cheap punishment for players. Checkpoints may not also be as frequent as you’d like, and the boss battles are a good deal easier than the later levels.

It Is a Magnificent Triumph

cyber4 Master Shadow's abilities and defeat foes of all kind, like this robot dragon you fight while on water. Photo: bestbuy.com

All in all, those are only minor complaints in an otherwise magnificent triumph of a title. Feeling like a passion project through and through, this game is a superb action platformer that manages to crescendo and pick back up again just it feels like it’s slowing down. Combining what we loved about the graphics and gameplay of the past era and giving them a fresh coat of paint, “Cyber Shadow” is a love letter to the NES classics of yesteryear as much as it’s a challenge to best them, making it stand out in a sea of 8-bit throwbacks.

If you’re a fan of action-platformers, an old-school enthusiast or simply on the market for a retro-styled video game as an introduction to this genre, then purchase “Cyber Shadow” for the Nintendo Switch through Best Buy.

So, how does saving the world from an evil army of robots sound?