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Game Profile
Xbox Live Arcade
GENRE: Shooter
PLAYERS:   1-2
September 14, 2011
Early Chil
 Written by Brian Lelas  on September 27, 2011

Reviews: Treasure's classic Sega Saturn shooter finally makes it to the Western world on XBLA to the sound of joy from hardcore gamers

Radiant Silvergun is the legendary ?Bullet Hell? masterpiece from kings of the genre, Treasure. Its original release on the 2D powerhouse, the Sega Saturn, was limited to Japan, which lead to die-hard Saturn fans opting to get their consoles modded and switched so that they could pay the ludicrous import prices for what was being hailed as the best game never to see a Western release.

Thirteen years later, Radiant Silvergun hits XBLA, owing the popularity of other Treasure classic, Ikaruga, for the privilege. But can it still hold true to that claim of old? Is it really that good? As it turns out, the answer will likely depend on how much you enjoy old-school shooters. If you weren't the kind of person to fall madly in love with Ikaruga, Gradius or R-Type

What makes Radaiant Silvergun different is also what makes it superb. Rather than the usual reliance on a constant stream of bullets, ships here are given a wealth of offensive options from the very beginning. Seven main weapons are available with each one designed for specific uses. There are a group of lock-on type weapons and some handy rearward firing alternatives. My personal favourite is the sword weapon, which clears a circle of much-needed space around your ship if done correctly.

The game has rather dated visuals despite being upgraded for this new release. Back on the Saturn the original polygon assets were imposed over 2D backgrounds and were impressive in their day, but today, even the work gone into the revamp has been a disappointment and largely inconsistent. The music and sound are also rather archaic, with the Story Mode voices in particular bringing players close to the Mute All field on the options screen. Radiant Silvergun, happily, doesn't need the flashy glitz and glamour of AAA titles like Gears of War 3 or the sound mastering of Child of Eden. What it lacks in polish it makes up for in pure unadulterated gameplay craziness. The screen is constantly changing. Bullets come from all directions while enemies and bosses of all types and sizes pop in and out of view faster than most human beings can handle. Even being a veteran of other ?Bullet Hell? games can offer no respite as this game dishes out punishment unlike any other.

With its high difficulty level, Radiant Silvergun manages to pack plenty of hours of gameplay into a small collection of levels. There are six lenghty stages, arranged in a non-chronological way for the story, filling in gaps as it goes. This form of narrative makes an entertaining diversion through the game but is a long way from literature. The levels are packed full of great ideas that spin the shooting genre on its head in more ways than one. After a few initial tries at getting through the first bunch of levels, every player is guaranteed to want to press on and persevere. The rewards are there if you invest and despite the occasional moment of baffled dismay, it is possible to fire through levels without losing a single life if you get practiced.

Bottom Line
Radiant Silvergun's mythic status among hardcore gamers is a little dented by its new widespread availability but it has reached the hands of a whole range of players who can finally experience it in full. To recommend this game to anyone other than high-score junkies or fans of the classic Japanese Shooter genre would be akin to handing a vegetarian a slice of roast chicken, so here it is, you have been warned: try it before you buy it. There's a trial version there for all to get a taste of things to come. For those who found Ikaruga even mildly diverting however, Radiant Silvergun will completely bowl you over and turn you into a retro gamer more convincingly than any other title ever could. This Treasure game is free from its exile and is an absolute gem.

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