Hello all! Last week, I revisited a game that didn’t age so great, and really only had one or two jokes.
Today brings us to a shoot-em-up that can only be described with one word: maximalism.
Radiant Silvergun is a “shmup” developed by Treasure, a company who’s never really made anything terrible. They’re responsible for games like Gunstar Heroes, Sin and Punishment, and Silvergun’s spiritual successor, Ikaruga. Among many other games. I’ve covered them a couple times, as you can see.
Silvergun is much different from the probably better known Ikaruga, however. Whereas Ikaruga is discussed and often celebrated for it’s minimalist approach, Silvergun takes things in a different direction.
Pictured: everything. (Screens taken from the Xbox 360 remake)
Silvergun gives you access to all seven weapons from the start, and you never lose any or run out of ammo. It’s innovative for its time, as most shoot-em-ups limit you to one weapon at any given time. Here, you simply use different buttons to fire different weapons. (In the original release, you had to use different button combos) There’s a weapon for every situation, and the key lies in figuring out which to use. I like to use the homing shots, but even they don’t work for every single enemy or boss.
Speaking of, the bosses in Silvergun are made up of discrete “chunks” rather than simply existing as massive bullet sponges. You get more points for destroying each section instead of going straight for the core of the boss. Sometimes the bosses get pretty intense, consisting of multiple chunks and causing all sorts of trouble.
Like I said, what makes Silvergun so different from its successor, Ikaruga, is the two contrasting design philosophies. Ikaruga consists of one main weapon (with special attack), muted colors, and a general subdued, artistic aesthetic.
Silvergun is Ikaruga’s polar opposite. It’s loud, you have all of the weapons at your disposal, the music blares...it’s, as I said, maximalistic; it’s meant to have absolutely everything happening at once. Like every great bullet hell shooter, the idea is to manage blasting enemies while dodging shots. Here, though, you have to do all that while choosing the right weapon for the right situation, while dodging tons of enemy fire and bits of the environment.
I mean, there’s not really a whole lot to say about shoot-em-ups. A lot of them are quite similar, and the gameplay is always more or less the same. That’s the case with Radiant Silvergun too, but, I dunno, there’s something special about it. It’s probably the maximalism, or it’s probably the fact that Treasure developed it. It is, in the end, just another shoot-em-up, but it’s got that extra something that some games have. You know how some games’ parts just fit together so well, they become more than the sum of their parts? That.
Not to mention, Silvergun is hard as hell. It’s an incredibly steep challenge-sometimes overwhelming. That’s of course great news for shoot-em-up fans like me, but it could turn away others. It’s a niche genre, for sure.
Anyway, go play Radiant Silvergun! It’s awesome.
Next week-lots of games do the whole Lovecraft thing. Let’s check out one that gets it right, more so than any game ever (it’s got the advantage of explicitly using Lovecraft’s settings, characters, etc., but still).