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...