14 - Radiant Silvergun (Saturn)

Forget the business about the value or otherwise of the game. Radiant Silvergun is a stone-cold classic of design and gameplay.

Taking advantage of every trick the Saturn has to offer, and pulling out a few that people thought it never could, Treasure crafted a masterpiece in the shoot 'em up genre. I didn't buy this blindly on the hype - even I'm not that daft, I downloaded a rip of it and tried it out on a modded PAL Saturn. A few hours with that slow, bordered version was enough to convince me I had to get hold of a genuine copy and a Japanese machine to play it on.

To me, Silvergun is like taking part in a big, dramatic story. It's peppered with dialogue and cutscenes - something that you tend not to see in shmups, and that lends it a quality of immersion seldom experienced. I'm not talking about The Zone here, I mean that particular feeling that what's going on in the game is actually happening. Hard to explain but there it is.

It's incredibly tough, but it's entirely possible given the effort. As with most shmups it mainly comes down to learning the patterns and best strategies to take on the bosses. And the bosses are glorious beasts - the game is essentially a boss rush with the business inbetween all about levelling your weapons and chaining for highscores. The music is essential to the experience, and the game wouldn't be half as thrilling without it.

Radiant Silvergun is one of those rare games that's almost as entertaining to watch as it is to play, because of that great sense of the dramatic. To play it though is a dream, whatever the cost.

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