Radiant Silvergun


Review by Rob "Dire 51"



Graphics: 9

Sound: 9

Gameplay: 9

Overall: 9

Radiant Silvergun is widely considered to be one of the best overhead shooters ever created by some, and at the same time also considered to be extremely overrated by others. Personally, I fall into the first category - I think the game is absolutely fantastic! It was released by Treasure for the ill-fated Sega Saturn in 1998, at a time when the system was dying here in the U.S. Had the Saturn been able to survive and prosper here, Radiant Silvergun may have made it across the Pacific like Treasure's first Saturn game Guardian Heroes... but unfortunately, that was not to be the case, and Radiant Silvergun stayed in Japan. It now commands very high prices on places like eBay, and is one of the most sought-after Saturn shooters ever.

The story behind Radiant Silvergun (hereafter known as RS) is not completely clear to me, as the opening is all in Japanese. However, the opening is very high quality anime (for the Saturn, at any rate), so even though you won't understand it if you don't speak Japanese, you'll love watching it. I won't even try to describe the opening, as it's something you really have to see. There's definitely something odd going on, focusing on some kind of giant opaque diamond with tremendous powers that seems to be causing havoc, and only these three pilots (based on board the ship Tetra) can stop it. There's a fair amount of slapstick humor in the opening too... one of these days I'm either going to learn Japanese so I can understand what's going on, or have it translated.

One thing you'll notice while playing the game is the complete lack of powerups. Not a single one comes along. The reason for this is because your ship is fully stocked - each button on the controller unleashes a different weapon. There's your standard forward cannon, a tail gun, a homing shot, a lightning shot, diagonally-firing explosives, the lock-on spread (which is the only weapon that can locate the secret dogs - more on this later), and the Radiant Sword. That nifty little item works like this: a lot of enemies fire these blobby little pink bullets at you. If you use the Radiant Sword on these bullets, your ship will absorb them and a meter at the top of the screen will fill up. Once it's full, pressing the Sword button again will cause two huge wire frame swords to come out of the side of the ship, then arc upwards and smash together in front of you, seriously damaging or completely destroying whatever enemies are in front or to the sides of you. You're ship is also invincible for the few seconds that the swords are being used. Interestingly enough, the more enemies you destroy, the more powerful your weapons get - kind of like gaining experience and levels in an RPG. That's a fairly unique touch to the game, one that helps make RS stand out, IMO.

The graphics are absolutely gorgeous. Just like what they did with the Genesis when they released Gunstar Heroes, Treasure pushed the Saturn to its limits with RS, using a great mix of sprites and polygons throughout the game. Absolutely huge bosses and other objects fill the screen... the last boss, Xiga, is completely astounding, even to this day. Most of the bosses (and there's a LOT of them) in the game are done in polygons, and actually can be taken apart piece by piece - the more parts of a boss you destroy, the better your score will be. A lot of them will self destruct if you take too long to destroy them, though. Also, by destroying enemies that are the same color, you start to build up chain combos. The more you kill that are the same color, the higher your points for the chain gets.

The play control is dead on - if you steer your ship into a wall, you'll have no one to blame but yourself, as the controls are extremely tight and the ship's collision hexagon is extremely small. The difficulty is up there, though, as masses of bullets and enemies fill the screen at times, and you only have a limited number of continues to work with (you do gain more as you go along). The save game feature is a big help - it saves all of your accumulated weapon power and continues - but not the level you were on. So when you start your next game, you have a powered up ship and all of your continues, which makes the earlier stages a lot easier to go through. There's also two different modes to choose from - arcade and Saturn. The Saturn mode is the one with the story (and much better ending), so if you have no desire to sit through the story sequences, go with the arcade mode. On top of that, you can use the L button in arcade mode to add credits so you can keep continuing if you have to.

The music is phenomenal. Composed by Hitoshi Sakimoto, I'd have to say that this is some of the best music I've ever heard from a shooter... hell, this is some of the best music I've heard from any game, no matter what genre. The music for the first stage in the game (actually Stage 3, as the stage numbers are all out of whack for some reason - I'm sure there is one, I just don't know what it is) alone is worth the price of the soundtrack, which can go for quite a bit if you can find it. Luckily, for those of us that can't get a hold of a RS soundtrack CD, Treasure was nice enough to include a sound test.

Now... about those secret dogs. They don't really serve a purpose, except to surprise you when you're in the middle of a pitched battle and suddenly you hear "WOOF WOOF!" come out of nowhere and see a small picture of a dog wagging it's tail on the screen somewhere. Every dog you find gets put into the pen in a section of the options menu, and if you find all thirty, you can congratulate yourself on finding all thirty. Like I said, they don't really serve a purpose.

Radiant Silvergun is one of the best games for the Saturn, and one of the best shooters that's out there. If you're willing to pay the high prices that people charge for it, or if you're lucky enough to find a copy on the cheap side, I'd definitely recommend picking it up, as you probably won't be disappointed.


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Last updated: Wednesday, December 10, 2003 02:30 PM