This is an amazing day for me. You see, back in the olden days I bought a Saturn specifically for Radiant Silvergun, even though the game was released in Japan only. However, the thing I didn’t count on was the astronomical price tag this little peach of a game would go for on sites such as eBay. I didn’t have £100+, and thus was doomed to spend lunchtimes scouring the web for an affordable copy.
The good news (unless you’re a collector) is that Radiant Silvergun has been dragged into 2011, with a fresh coat of paint and a release on Xbox LIVE. Let’s take a look, shall we?
The game is a bullet hell shooter with a twist. Rather than start off with a single weapon and gain power-ups as the level progresses, you actually have access to seven weapons right off the bat. The idea behind this is that initially they are all pretty weak, starting off at level zero, but as you use them they gain experience points and level up, meaning your favourite weapons become incredibly powerful.
This might sound a bit superficial, but it’s key to progressing further than the first level. This is because you can save your weapons’ progress, so even when you hit the ‘Game Over’ screen you can start a fresh game, but carry over your weapons’ levels from the previous playthrough.[drop ]This is very handy because, at first, Radiant Silvergun is pretty darn frantic. I’m no stranger to this genre, but I was quite shocked as to how quickly I died with my puny level zero weapons.
Of course, this quickly changed as I levelled up, and on about my tenth playthrough I blasted through the first level, beat the boss before it even fired off a shot and got a 100% destruction rating (‘blip’ achievement unlocked!). I was feeling pretty good about myself, and then I hit level two…
The beauty of this levelling up system is that each playthrough, no matter how short, feels relevant because it all adds experience to your weapons. Even if you only get to destroy a few enemy ships, you’ll notice the little bar on the left side of the screen increase. It’s very addictive, and the fact that the difference in power between weapon levels is so noticeable is like a constant driving force, pushing you to have one more go and increase one more level.
As one might expect from a bullet hell shooter, Radiant Silvergun is all about chasing those high scores, and that’s where the combo system comes in. Enemies are coloured, and destroying multiple types of the same colour starts off a chain, which gets you more points. An example of this would be the start of the first level, where three blue enemies descend on you, quickly followed by three red. If you destroy them in that order (three blue then three red) you’ll earn more points as that’s a chain, but if you were to destroy two blue, one red, one blue and two reds you would get no bonus. Did you get all that? Excellent, now imagine trying to think about all this whilst zipping through a level, dodging what feels like a million bullets.
Visually the game is nice, but not as spectacular as I was hoping. The trade-off is the dozens of enemies on-screen at once, and the hundreds of bullets filling the screen. Saying that, I have come across the odd bit of slowdown, which is actually really disappointing. It’s not a game breaker, as it normally happens during big explosions where you have taken down a large enemy, but I would have expected a solid frame rate.
The audio is great, with some pumping, catchy tunes to get you in the mood for a bit of carnage, and the Japanese voice dubs are suitably over the top.
I’m thoroughly impressed with what I’ve played of Radiant Silvergun so far. Once you get into it I guarantee you’ll be hooked as you try and beat your previous high score, and finish a level without being hit. All of this and I haven’t even had time to try out the co-op portion of the game either! So much to do, so little time.
Now, if you’ll excuse me I think it’s time to migrate over to the ‘extra hard’ difficulty mode. I’m sure it’ll be fine…