I need to be straight up here, I might be slightly biased towards this game, but this is one of the most legendary games of all time, one that gets prices on ebay that only Neo Geo titles seem to match, and many people will be thinking about purchasing it.
However, just like most Japanese shoot-’em-ups, it is insanely difficult, and I for one was hesitant to splash 1200 of my precious MS points on a game I might only spend 5 minutes with. In hindsight I am glad that I did, as I have even managed to surpass how far I got on the original Saturn version (not too far) and earned myself an achievement of two as well!
Firstly, it looks awesome. This is a Saturn game, but rather than just port that version and press the HD button, the source code was used to optimise it for the 360 hardware.(1) This means it looks stunning. The visuals are bright and although there is loads going on, you never feel you are getting overwhelmed or that the screen is getting crowded. The cut scenes I have seen so far look good, but do show their age a little bit more, when compared to some modern day works.
One of the great things about Radiant Silvergun is the weapons. Unlike most vertical scrollers, there are no powerups to worry about collecting. You start the game with a weapon assigned to almost every button, of which the sword is for me the standout. This means that if you die, there isn’t that awful R-type moment, when you know that you won’t be able to get through with only the default weapon. Instead, the skill lies in knowing which weapon to use at which time.
In addition, the weapons can be levelled up by scoring points. Chaining enemies of the same colour, or destroying all of a boss before it self destructs, gives some major point bonuses to help with this. This colour mechanic is the fore runner of the more complex system that Ikaruga employs, and to be honest I found the action too frantic to be able to consciously worry about this.
As I said at the beginning, I usually find shoot em ups too difficult, too hardcore, and find it hard to get my money’s worth. Radiant Silvergun has been a game changer in this respect, simply because of the level of customisation available. In arcade mode, there are several difficulty levels, and I immediately went for very easy. You can also ramp up the number of ships available too. However, it is training mode that I really love, as you can not only do all of the above, but also increase the power of each weapon AND slow the game down. This allows you to learn patterns, experiment with weapons and practive bosses, and gave me, as a non-hardcore gamer, a real chance to experience what the game has to offer. One of the most telling things is that fairly quickly I got two achievements, which is a good start since I still have none on Geometry Wars 1 and 2, or Ikaruga!
Add into all this the score attack and online coop modes, and this game starts to seem really good value, especially against the £100+ prices that ebay is still showing for the original. If like me, you would love to experience why Treasure are so feted, and why this game is so beloved of the Saturn hardcore, I can reassure you that you will be able to experience it, and that as a way into this style of shooter game, it couldn’t come more recommended.
MLG Rating: 8/10
Platform: XBLA Release Date: 14/09/2011