Glitch Feed


Retro Feed: Radiant Silvergun by +peter
July 18, 2006, 11:18 pm
Filed under: Retro Feed, Retro Gaming, Sega Saturn

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Radiant Silvergun for Sega Saturn

I know you are watching this space, desperately waiting for some sort of progress update regarding the games by Glitch Feed. Do not quash your hopes just yet my dear friends for details are coming soon! If you could only see what I see now…

I feel blessed. I am an old enough to remember the game systems of yore. My first video game was played on my father’s Commodore 64. As soon as I could move my fingers independently of each other, I had a joystick in my hand. At such a young age I was successfully guiding Pac Man into the mouths of Inky, Blinky, Pinky and Clyde. My earliest memories of childhood often involved me expertly racing my Formula 1 car into the wall in Pole Position.

So, it should naturally follow that a few years later, my first system would be a Nintendo Entertainment System! I spent every moment I could practicing the fine art of jumping into the holes/water/lava of Super Mario Brothers. I mastered my ability to fire blanks into the sky in Duck Hunt. One of the first words I could spell in its entirety was name of god himself, Nintendo.

My best friend Adam was the luckiest boy in the entire world. He had EVERY game for NES. He later introduced me to the wonders of the Sega Genesis, Sega CD and the Super Nintendo. My next love affair was with the Genesis attachment, 32X. I was a Virtua Fighter! During this time I also developed an affinity for the migraines caused by my new Virtual Boy.

Yet something was wrong, after my Genesis I purchased a Nintendo 64, and after my Nintendo 64 I owned a Playstation 2. Time continues to pass and consoles come and go (I still play my Virtual Boy by the way), but I have always felt an awkward deficiency in my life. While it might have been the scurvy, I attribute it to utterly missing the entire 32 bit era. Sure I had a 32X and the VB was supposedly 32 bit, but lets face it, the 32X had about as much power as a potato light at an elementary school science fair and the VB is such an enigma that its power has yet to be quantified by man.

I was in dire need of a gaming intervention. How could I have missed such a pivotal time period in video gaming? It was a significant period because it chronicles the transition from 2D to the amazing new world of the Third Dimension. The transition did not come easily as many people then and still today blame new technology as a way to gloss over what is lacking in gameplay, story and character. Many developers tried to balance these differing perspectives, and many of gaming’s most influential and historically important titles came about because of this new and unique challenge.

Retro Feed is a Glitch Feed feature that will follow my exploration within the 32 bit era. Read on to discover Radiant Silvergun for the Sega Saturn…

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There is something about the Sega Saturn that just calls to me. It is the greatest system that never was. Rumors state that the original machine was built with 2D in mind, then suddenly had a second processor added on late in its development.

The system would be the most powerful system available within the 32 bit market. The problem was, harnessing that power proved beyond possible for many 3rd party developers. The Saturn’s main competitor, the Sony Playstation, provided a much easier platform to program for. While architecturally weaker, the system was home to more and better looking games than the Saturn because of its ease of development. The Saturn would eventually be defeated.

That story is heart wrenching I know, but this under-appreciated system leaves in its wake many excellent games that hardly had a chance. I will be exploring many of them in the future.

The game I would like to start off with is Treasure’s, Radiant Silvergun. If I could absorb the knowledge and creative force of any game developer, I would choose the entire staff at Treasure. Prior to working on the Saturn, they had already an established reputation for quality because of games like Alien Soldier, Dynamite Headdy (awesome) and Gunstar Heroes for the Sega Genesis.

The scientific term for this genre of game is “Shootem’ Up” or Shmup. It is also my scientific hypothesis that this term was developed by old grandmothers trying to buy video games for their grand children. If it’s a choice between this or a new sweater that smells of cigarettes, I guess I’ll take Shmup.

I have never been that good at nor interested in Shmups. Years ago, I remember trying out a few but I would always be killed within the first couple seconds as I navigated my ship into the only stray bullet on screen.

Things have changed over the years, I’m taller and smarter. I can jump over buildings and I am better at video games. Those parts of the game that used to humiliate me are now victim to my triumphant jeers. There is an amazing feeling of accomplishment when you successfully navigate an entire screen full of enemies and bullets.

Radiant Silvergun is considered to be the pinnacle of the ‘maximilist’ school of vertical shooter design. All weapons are available right from the start and are accessible by pressing the gamepad buttons in different combinations. The challenge then is not to collect power ups but rather master the utilization of each of the unique weapons.

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The game is hard, and I mean VERY hard. Enemies are non stop and boss battles are frequent and varied. Your toils do not go unrewarded as the more you play, the more your weapons are upgraded. Even if you are not the best player, you will find yourself progressing further and further each time you play based merely upon the fact that your weapons are growing in strength.

Progressing through the game is certainly no chore either. Levels are broken up with moments of dialogue that reveal more about the plot. Enemies are very creative in both their appearance and form of attack. Learning the patterns and tactics of each enemy provides an immense feeling of accomplishment.

The hope of progressing just a little further is what keeps me coming back to this game. The gameplay is very enjoyable, the levels are incredibly well laid out and the art direction is excellent.

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Despite the Saturn’s supposedly inferior graphics, Treasure does a very good job with what they had access to. The game is presented in 2.5D, meaning it mixes both animated sprites and fully polygonal objects. The music and sound effects are also very accomplished, adding much to the game. The only issue I could find (when I really work hard at my nit picking skills) is that the game’s audio is completely in Japanese. While I gather that the plot is epic and dramatic, I’m not quite sure why.

There is no other way to remedy this problem other than to learn Japanese (which I am trying to do) because the game was only released in Japan. To play the game, you also need a Japanese specific Saturn. Both are expensive and not easily found.

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For those of us who are not inclined to pay $150 dollars on Ebay, there is always the option of emulation. The legality of such a method is pretty fuzzy because of the fact that while there is the possibility of copy right infringement, it is impossible to purchase the game at retail and the hardware is extinct. Details on emulating games will come at a later time.

Playing by yourself is great, but playing with a friend is always better. Now I have a person to yell at when I die. By yourself, all you can do is throw your controller at the floor in frustration when you make another bone headed move, but when you friend is sitting right next to you, you may vent your anger by punching them in the face. Its really tough on your friends, since the game is so good, you would sooner kill your friend through head trauma then stop playing.

-pita

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3 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Remind me never to be in the same room with you when you play RSG… I’d rather not be in a coma ^_^

Comment by bajaba

Ah. Retro eh? Now I feel I must start posting about Lucasarts and suchlikes. Well. Yes.

Comment by bluelotusfeet

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