What now-gen games can learn from Radiant Silvergun

January 23, 2008

If you've been playing games for a while, you will likely have heard of Treasure. This revered developer has created some of the best shooting games ever. True, it also gave the world Dynamite Headdy, but you gotta take the rough with the smooth. Gunstar Heroes, Ikaruga, Alien Soldier, Bangai-O - all magnificent titles in many ways. But all pale in comparison to the company's magnum opus, Radiant Silvergun.

Released in 1998 on Sega's dying Saturn console, the game was never given a western release. Being the spiritual predecessor to Ikaruga, the similarities are immediately apparent. But at heart it plays very differently. In fact it plays, perfectly. And every modern shooter, whether FPS or traditional scroller, could still learn from it. So here, in words and video, is why the game is still vitally important, ten years after its release.

Forgiving collision detection
Despite the game's incredibly hardcore difficulty level, the game mechanics are incredibly forgiving. If your ship is, say, 30 pixels wide, the game only registers the middle 12 or so as solid. Therefore, those ever-decreasing gaps between bullets are larger than they look - or you're smaller, depending on how you want to look at it. The result is a game that never leaves you screaming 'That didn't hit me!' at the telly. This makes failure easier to cope with -  games can be rock hard without being unfair. A very simple lesson.

Check out the video to see just how close those bullets can get without killing you. One hit is all it takes. It is worth noting that we're using a PAL Saturn with a converter cartridge, so the game's running 17.5% slower in our videos than it would on a Japanese machine. If only Sega had approved a UK release... tsk.

Above: Holding 'fire' slows your craft's movement, allowing finer control. We weren't just overwhelmed, honest. Er...

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  • Lionzest7 - September 16, 2011 10:44 a.m.

    I've loved this game since I played it on an emu a few years back. I play a lot of mainstream shooters (not really touhou). I found this one to always be exceptional. One thing you might have forgotten to mention was the grazing/grinding bonus. The game actually gives you points for rubbing against objects as well as abusing that small hitbox. The game has a set of limited collectables called MERRY which are actually quite crafty and fun to find. The three button system is genius, what other game does give you all weapons to start, along with powerups that stay. You hit it on the money there mr. Towell. Everytime I die on Gradius I cringe, knowing my weapons will only be half there or none when I get back :| Every boss encounter has different mechanics, environments can hurt you. You can use the environment in your favor at certain points. The part I personally love the most is you have the rear firing vulcan, and no weapon is particularly too cheap, a gun for every angle. It works beautifully when executed correctly. This game is the most rewarding game I've ever played. Years down the road, I still love it. I still suck, but it always gives me a reason to come back.
  • Kaz993 - April 12, 2009 4:48 a.m.

    This game is seriously amazing. Ive always loved it but its sequel wasnt anywhere near as good.
  • earthvampire - April 6, 2009 5:04 p.m.

    first comment^^ but seriously good article and i would love to see quite a few modern games learn from radiant silvergun due to its simple but awesome features and its longivity

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