abasm's Radiant Silvergun (Saturn) review

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  • abasm has written a total of 2 reviews. The last one was for Snatcher

Nonsensical Engrishgun - A review of Radiant Silvergun

 Do you see that "TREASURE" there? I see a seal of supreme quality assurance.

I love Treasure. They, unlike many current game developers, have discovered the "golden mean" of the games they produce, the exact ratios to make each title a cohesive and non-obstructive experience. Treasure games are hard, but never impossible. They are unabashedly flashy, without ever being distracting. They are daunting without ever seeming insurmountable, and with each challenge, each wall you overcome, you feel immensely accomplished, but never so drained that you aren't willing to take on the next. Every single game is a visceral, and engaging experience, and with each session, each new success, you walk away feeling like a total badass. 

Somewhere, a physicist is crying.

This tradition runs strongly through the veins of Radiant Silvergun, Treasure's Sega Saturn, Japan-exclusive "shmup" (and spiritual predecessor to the similarly wonderful Ikaruga). The basic premise of the game is exactly the same as others of the genre: shoot your way through waves of foes, dodging projectiles of all shapes and colors, to get the highest score possible before you die/win. The twist lies within the execution of the shooting mechanic. Most shooters offer progressive power-ups a la Gradius, as you advance forth on a given life, or ship, you will gain powers and abilities to aid your further advance. Dying, naturally, will reduce your ship's power to nil again. 

And then, mere seconds later...bullets! Everywhere!

Radiant Silvergun eschews this formula by, in essence, giving you all of your abilities from the beginning. Your ship has a total of SEVEN separate and different weapons, all of which have contextually appropriate uses. Not to say that any of the weapons are useless, you could theoretically navigate the game (or at least the first several levels) with any one weapon. However, you will ultimately be better served in learning to use all of the weapons proficiently, thinking on your feet, and using the the most efficient weapon(s) for each new encounter.
I was going to describe these, but someone already has. Thank you, Wikimedia Commons!

And with that, down the rabbit hole you go. The game, structured in traditional arcade fashion, has no tutorial stage, and simply coaxes you in with a carefully crafted difficulty curve. The game begins innocently enough, easily, even, and slowly, almost imperceptibly, becomes more difficult, all in one smooth, seamless sequence. Before you know it, you're frantically firing your guns and dodging bullets from all sides in an orchestra of controlled chaos. 

I don't have any screenshots with the aforementioned "bullet hell," unfortunately.

And then you die. You WILL die. Radiant Silvergun is not a game one completes in their first sitting, nor a game one should EXPECT to complete in their first sitting. But each death is a lesson. You die by your own hand, your demise is always the product of your own folly. Never are your circumstances unfair; never does the game "cheat". Each time you die, you pick yourself back up, and enter the fray again. 

I always try to remain attitude for gains in frantic situations.

Radiant Silvergun is a shining (radiant?) example of how to make a difficult game both fun and accessible, while leaving room for development and growth on the player's behalf. The game encourages diversification, but does not immediately punish a simpler approach. Novices and experts alike can jump into the game and have fun, and each can find something to improve in themselves. 

And to think some believe that video games are not an art-form. 
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