Cheetahmen 3: Sabre Claw, also known as The Cheetahmen 3, or Mad Catz: Apollo's Rise in Japan, is an action-adventure game being developed by Sage Entertainment. Despite having a 3 in the title, it is considered a reboot of the Cheetahmen series, containing its own world and mythos. The game revolves around a cheetah Chimera named Apollo and his cooperation with a group of terrorists known as the Sabre Claw Gang, whom fight against a military regime known as the Sentiels. However, as the storyline unfolds, the gang shows their true goal: to liberate the nation of the Nova Islands, and end the Chimera Wars. It was created to re-introduce the series in a nostalgic 16-bit form and to attempt to reboot the series into a decent game. The game will be available for download on the PlayStation Store, Xbox Live, the Apple Store, and Google Play, though Amazon will release a special edition "Cheetahmen 3: Revival of a Legend" cartridge for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System.
Cheetahmen 3 offers a different style of gamplay different from its earlier two counteparts. Instead of a linear sidescroller, this game has a unique blend of elements from the fighting, beat 'em up, and action-adventure genres. Instead of a linear path to a stage-end boss, the player can take various paths in stages through forks in the road, similar to games in the Metal Slug series. As the storyline progresses, the player can return to past stages to find hidden treasures, level grind, or complete storyline events. The stages may alter due to past events. While fighting, the user has access to punching, kicking, jumping, and grappling with the face buttons, as well as locking onto targets and blocking with the shoulder buttons. In combat, the user can also block by locking on and holding the button opposite of the direction the character is facing. Blocking takes a small amount of health, depending on the ferocity of the attack blocked. The player can dodge attacks altogether after learning the Evasive ability and using timed button presses to negate damage.
As the player defeats enemies, the characters gain experience points, which can be used to level up various attributes of the characters, which consists of Strength, Defense, Special Attack, Special Defense, Agility, Move, and Sabre, all of which have a default cap which vary by character. All characters earn EXP at the same time, though the current character used earns full EXP while everyone else gains 1/4 of the max. Similar to fighting games, the player can execute special attacks by imputing a D-pad combination, followed by an attack button. The player can use EXP to unlock moves and increase their effectiveness, and each character has at least five special attacks which have various effects. If a character is knocked out, the player can switch to another character, and the unconscious character can be revived with a restorative item, though they will regain 1/8 of their health if left alone for about five minutes. If all characters are knocked out, the player can restart from their most recent savepoint.
The characters also have a Fury gauge underneath their health gauges, which build as they take damage from enemies, though there abilities to learn that can build it under different parameters. When full, the user can use either activate two distinct modes; either Aggression Mode, where the user can deal more damage than normal and can even attack when struck with attacks or Armor Mode, where the character receives reduced damage and can slowly regain health while blocking. By inputing a specific command combination, the character can unleash a Saber Fury attack, an attack dealing massive damage to targets which vary in effect. However, after use, the user will be left fatigued for a while, depending on the level of attack. The Fury bar can remain unused to allow activation at any time.
Storyline events happen with animated cutscenes and dialogue can appear during gameplay. Due to the expansive world and various stages, the game will take between 15 and 35 hours to complete normally, though it can be sped through in about five. There is also about ten hours of extra missions that reward the player with rare treasures and chances to unlock characters and easter eggs. Completing the game will reward the player with Challenge Mode, which gives the player objectives in various stages to complete.
The player has assess to five playable characters, all of whom are members of Unit One, the most powerful branch of the Sabre Claw Gang. Each character has their own special attacks, combos, and specialties to allow the player to mix up characters to move through stages, solve puzzles and find treasures, and use in strategic fights. Each character also has a two fighting classes, which could consist of Power, Speed, Special, or Technique, as well an unlockable third auxiliary class. There are also two unlockable characters whom can be unlocked through sidequests to add to the completion meter, though neither are required to beat the game.
Apollo is the main character of Cheetahmen 3, and is a 17-year-old cheetah Chimera. Born and raised in the relatively quiet city of Quelle, he is initially very pacifistic and dislikes violence. However, after his parents are nearly killed and hospitalized during a battle between the Sabre Claw Gang and the Sentiels, he learns martial arts and street fighting to get his revenge, and joins the gang and rises to Unit One to systemmatically take them down. However, as he fights against the Sentinels, he learns the regime's origins and plans, and becomes lost at a crossroads between revenge for himself or the freedom of the many. He has access to an inner power known as the White Spirit, which enables his already potent fighting skill to rise exponentially in small bursts. His fighting classes are Technique and Speed.
Marshall is the leader of the Sabre Claw Gang, and is a 29-year-old lion Chimera. As leader of the gang, he sets an example for his troops by fighting in Unit One as a front-line warrior instead of leading from the sidelines. He sees great potential in Apollo, and tries to teach the boy about freedom, despite not knowing he is the cheetah's prime target. He is also seeking a way for humans, Chimera, and Abnormals to live in peace and learn about one another. He is known for his devastating attacks that deal widespread damage. His fighting classes are Power and Technique.
Yugal is Marshall's most trusted friend, the leader of Unit One, and a 26-year-old panther Chimera. As leader of Unit One, he leads the most elite branch of the Sabre Claw Gang, though he nobly takes orders from Marshall. Quiet and simplistic whenever not on a mission, he is a voice of wisdom and strives for inner peace. He can see the rage within Apollo building as he fights with Unit One, but also knows what good he's capable of. He is also the Grand Master of the Black Stalker fighting style, incorporating swift attacks and powerful grabbing moves to pound foes into submission. His major and minor fighting classes are Power and Special
Sasha is the sole female member of Unit One, and is a 22-year-old white tiger Chimera. One of the last members of the Bar'Utul tribe left alive, she once swore revenge on the Sentiels for killing her tribesmen during a power dispute. She was kidnapped and experimented upon for years after, developing a hatred for humans. She was eventually saved by a former member of Unit One whom sacrified herself to allow the girl to flee. Sasha now strives to rid the world of human influence and face the men whom imprisoned her. She is known as Iron Leg for her deadly kicking attacks. Her fighting classes are Speed and Special.
Robert is Marshall's younger brother and a 20-year-old lion Chimera. Raised by Marshall since the death of their parents 12 years earlier, he has grown to respect his brother's strength. However, he is brash and hasty to prove himself on the battlefield, which led to him being placed in the support Unit Twelve. Despite this, he wishes for the day that he can join his brother in Unit One and fight against the terror of the Sentinels together. He can fight similar to his brother, but is physically weaker, though he can deal multiple hits. His major and minor classes are Technque and Special.
Lieutenant K-RZ71; Callsign Poseidon is a former special ops member of the Sentinels, and the only playable human. After being defeated in Chapter Three, Poseidon has his own set of storyline missions that are optional and can only be played with him and Apollo, which revolves around him joining Unit One and revealing his identity as a human. He shares similar ideals with Marshall but is at odds with both humans and Chimera for either his views or his race. His name is unknown and he never shows his face, which is concealed behind a specialized multi-scanner mask peripheral. He wields a unique baton-sword in battle. He is special for having three preset classes available from the start, consisting of Power, Speed, and Technique.
Grendel is an Abnormal, consisting of a human's body, yet being completely white with black writings all over his body. He is the sole playable character that is an Abnormal. He is secret boss that must be found and defeated in order to recruit into the Sabre Claw Gang. He is initially a secret bioweapon to use against the Sabre Claw Gang, but joins them in order to find out who is truly on the right side in this war, as well as find out who he used to be. He is special for having no preset fighting classes and being able to customized fully, enabling him to be powerful in various aspects.