Gamestyle Archive intro: the popularity of shooters continued in Japan long after key formats like the Sega Saturn and Dreamcast had ended their lifespans. In fact the DC continued to play host to such titles for many years to come. The PS2 had to get in on the act with this title from May 2001 and the review by JJ.
DEVELOPER: Game Art/Treasure
PUBLISHER: Swing Entertainment
GENRE: Arcade shooter
RELEASE: Out Now
Remember the days of going down the arcade and emptying your savings and life into those glorious scrolling shooters? Certainly it’s one that the lads at Gamestyle all remember fondly, moments of triumphs and the lows of poor performance. It’s a memory that never fades and a genre that never dies or unfortunately ever develops. Of course there has been the odd exception in recent years, yet Silpheed The Lost Planet on the PS2 does nothing to push the boundaries of what has gone before.
It’s the future and Earth is under threat from a swarm of vicious monsters, a combination of metal and flesh – you are our only hope. They’ve rampaged through the galaxy destroying the planet of Solont in 1800 seconds and nothing has managed to halt their progress. Now only you and the top secret Silpheed craft can prevent the total destruction of earth. No problem then.
If you’ve played any such games as Radiant Silvergun, Giga Wing, Gradius, R-Type or other similar titles you’ll know the score with Silpheed The Lost Planet. Just like a modern equivalent such as Quake 3, you need to blast anything that moves and keep moving at all times. No need to worry about your ammunition just keep pressing that button, rapidly all the time. If you love this type of game then Silpheed is for you, if not, please avoid.
The introduction sequences set the story (what there is of it) and capture the mood very well, some of the FMV is quite stunning at times especially the destruction of Solont. The voice acting isn’t bad either. Perhaps it builds up your expectations too much because when the game itself commences you soon realise that, yes, you’ve seen it all before. Overall the presentation is good if a little sparse and the lack of options and configurations available is very disappointing. The game only makes use of one analogue stick and three buttons but really you can get away with hammering the same one all the time. The ability to select a different weapon for each wing is novel and throughout the game you will have the option to change, often during refuelling. At times the correct selection is crucial but more often than not the biggest, most powerful weapon repeated on both wings is ideal.
The PS2 handles this game very easily, at times the screen can be full of enemies but I could not help but feel more enemies and more destructible scenery should have been included. Some buildings you will need to avoid as they will inflict damage but this does not apply to everything – very annoying. While other games such as Radiant Silvergun offer more enemies and superior designed foes and attacks, the lighting effects on offer here are superb. In fact I would suggest that they concentrate on the fundamentals more than the eye candy but its nice all the same. It is probably the only graphical enhancement that reminds you this is running on a 128bit machine. Some of the backgrounds are nice but suffer from the PS2 rough edges effect we’re becoming accustomed to. Silpheed at times tends to slow down to a snails pace not because of slow-down but sections with few enemies and your craft flying at a minimal speed. This is one of several bad design elements that really spoiled my enjoyment of Silpheed. The game is very much on the rails; you have little control or direction, even something as simple as an alternate route would have be welcome. Enemies will often attack from behind your craft yet some of the bosses are so large and therefore you need to dodge constantly while not firing because you can only fire forward! The jury is still out on whether by continuing you should start from the point where you died or back to the beginning of the level – which Silpheed employs.
As with most games of this type the difficulty level may be too high for some, only normal and hard are on offer, no easy or are you joking? settings for PS2 owners. Even with the difficulty set high the game will not last more than a few hours. The replay value here is nil, as mentioned previously no alternate routes, secrets to uncover or rewards for reaching a certain points target. Once you have collected all the weaponry on offer that is it and there is no two-player mode that must be considered as a standard requirement with games of this ilk.
Most Treasure fans will know that the involvement of the company here is minimal and it must be considered as a warm-up, practice run for the PS2. Once Freak Out is released we’ll then have their first true PS2 title however even with this in mind I am still disappointed that more could not have been done. I hate to say it but as a rental, quick thrill, on your own game, Silpheed is enjoyable even only for a few hours. For anyone who is looking for more or the first true next gen title of this genre, forget it.
Gamestyle Score: 4/10