Radiant Silvergun

6.0 Overall Score

Written by on October 7, 2011 in

Radiant Silvergun is a difficult game to talk about. Not just because it’s incredibly dense and almost incomprehensible from a casual perspective, but because virtually all of the people curious about it have already bought or spurned it. So I’m not writing this review for you. This is for all the folks like me, who know of this game as the incredibly expensive piece on ebay and have always wondered “what is this thing?”

Functionally, Silvergun is a vertical shmup with a matching mechanic, similar to Ikaruga, another Treasure title (and the spiritual successor to Radiant Silvergun). You shoot dudes and attempt to match colors when shooting dudes to maximize your score. That’s about where the similarities end.

See, while Ikaruga had an incredibly elegant but challenging single mechanic in polarity-swapping, Radiant Silvergun focuses on a series of weapons, all with specific purposes. In addition to the standard gun, you have a side shot, reverse shot, homing bullets, sword (more on that later), and bombs. All of these are instantly available, and level up with use. The key in Radiant Silvergun is knowing what to use and when. Oh, and dodging lots and lots of bullets.

And this is where I fall flat and die eight times on the first level with this game. Much like Starcraft 2, Radiant Silvergun‘s core mechanics are dependant upon the player’s ability to do a whole bunch of things at once. I would often die while fumbling for the bomb button and forgetting for a split second to dodge, or not remembering that mashing the sword instead of methodically using it is detrimental, unlike every other weapon in…well every shooter ever.

The sword itself has it’s own weird set of mechanics. In addition to offering analog(ish) control when the button is held down, and doing a nice circular sweep (useful in tight corridors) when tapped slowly, it also charges up based upon the number of pink (and only pink) bullets it absorbs, after which it will unleash a screen-clearing supermove roughly equivalent to your bomb.

All of that sounds kind of crazy, right? This isn’t just me? So let’s go farther. If you just avoid a boss in this game long enough, it will blow itself up. Yes, it will self-destruct. Why? Because Radiant Silvergun is driving home a lesson that every shmup out there is trying to teach you; it isn’t about finishing the game, it’s about being awesome at it. To run up a high score (which is the only replay value in Silvergun, it’s a short game) you need to kill as many guys as possible before they fly off the screen, and beat each boss in the most difficult way available, by shooting small pieces off of it until the very last chunk (usually the one responsible for that really obnoxious attack pattern that keeps killing you) is destroyed.

And you’ll fight a LOT of bosses. Radiant Silvergun loves boss battles. You’ll see that warning sign flashing and here alarms so often you’ll feel like you’re teaching proper flamethrower cleaning to people sexually attracted to fire. Each one rates you after the fight, in percent destroyed, points, and skill, which is graded by letter.

And I think that single statement really sums up whether or not you want to buy Radiant Silvergun. It’s not a long game in term of unique content, but you can definitely drop a huge number of hours into this thing before mastering it. The weekend I spent jabbing it (and hitting 80% destruction for a C rating) it showed me that very clearly. There’s online leaderboards (a must for this sort of game), online co-op (I did not disgrace myself by dragging down another’s play online, but from what I did see of it this element looks totally functional), and some fantastic bad anime attract screens. Every game option that existed for Radiant Silvergun in its myriad of ports exists here. There’s a lot of value in the package.

At the end of the day, though, this is all dependent on how much you’ll be into a shmup. A newcomer to arcade shooters is going to be lost here, and far better served by Ikaruga or even Pac-Man CE DX, as both offer far easier mechanics to master. The huge variety of weapon options and the frantic push to master them all immediately for success makes this a pretty intimidating game to approach.

I started this review out saying that it wouldn’t be for those of you already aware of Radiant Silvergun. Those people already own this game, because they’re the market for it in the same way I’m the market for glorious, broken messes like Deadly Premonition. For the rest of you it comes down to what you want to do with your Xbox points. If you want a curiosity to marvel at, maybe wait for a sale price on this guy. If you want to get into shmups because all the cool kids are doing it, buy Ikarugaand Shoot1Up first, because they offer far easier barriers to entry. If you have those already and want something you can throw a ton of hours into, this is a pretty great, deep option with a large amount of playability.

A copy of Radiant Silvergun was given to The Married Gamers for review and evaluation.

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Author: Zach Snell View all posts by
Hi there. If you're reading this you've probably read some material of mine. If you want more go here and read my stories about a guy who punches wizards. http://www.amazon.com/Zachary-Snell/e/B008G0MORI/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1

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