Gaming History 101

Know Your Roots

Radiant Silvergun (Treasure)

with one comment

Now we are getting into the thick of Japanese shmups that are more than 10 years old but just made it stateside for the first time within the last few years.  One of the most dynamic shmup teams, Treasure, had just begun its long career of shmups when it came up with Radiant Silvergun.  A dynamic vertical shmup released in Japanese arcades in 1998, the well-known producer of the title Hiroshi Iuchi claims it was inspired by Image Fight – another solid shmup by developer Irem (of R-Type fame) that released to arcades and Nintendo consoles in 1988.  This also started a familiar concept found in many shmups, especially ones by Treasure, where you need to focus on the colors of the enemies you destroy.

In the arcade version, there was really no story but basically the game entails Earth under attack by, wait for it, an alien presence.  You will begin with sky battles on Earth and conclude with battles in space and near space stations.  What is significant about Radiant Silvergun is not its story, though, nor is it the impressive 3D effects and moving backgrounds.  It’s the fact that the game features seven weapons, all of which are built into the ship from the start.  You do collect power-ups that strengthen your weapons, but the bigger key is to know what type of weapons (in the arcade it’s based on combinations of the 3 buttons, on ports there are more buttons to help correspond to each weapon).  In order to make it through certain waves of enemies and destroy the multi-stage timed iterations of each boss you need to know the correct weapons to use.  In many cases this will reward you with a bonus, especially when fully destroying a boss or taking out 3 or more enemies of one color.  In many cases you can get by using whatever weapon you want, but no hardcore shmup player is satisfied with “good enough”, right?

While the game has six levels that are technically numbered, I don’t quite understand why they numbered them as they do.  In the arcade the first level is stage three, then the player selects to go to either stage 2 or 4, after which they will always go to stage 5, then 6, then finish the game at stage 1.  In the timeline of the plot created for ports, this makes sense only because the stages are numbered in chronological order but I would have just considered them stages 1-6.  This makes it extremely difficult when I’m trying to get help for certain stages online.  In the two ports of this title you are forced to play both stages 2 and 4, in that order, as part of a consistent chain of six stages.


The first port of this game was on the Japanese Saturn and to this date it stands as one of the most valuable games on the console.  It released in late 1998 and at time Radiant Silvergun could easily be found in arcades and had high popularity, thus increasing the selling potential for the home port.  The Saturn version contains the original arcade port and an arcade mode, both of which do not contain storyline info.  A new console version was created that had full cutscenes and pretty dynamic story to tell.  Later the game was ported to the Xbox Live service, including North America, with entirely new code (based on the Saturn port), new graphics, a reworked visual style to assist in a vertical raster effect on a horizontal HDTV and the ability to switch to the classic view of the game at any time.  This is a feature I wish was in more HD console ports.  If you’re interested, this gem of a title can be picked up for a mere 800 MS points ($10), a far cry from the $100+ and a Japanese Saturn you need to originally run it.

Tomorrow we pair up today’s posting with Treasure’s spiritual successor: Ikaruga.

Written by Fred Rojas

March 14, 2012 at 12:00 pm

One Response

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  1. Maybe the stage order goes like this:

    Stage 1: Link = January 1st 10,000,000 BC
    Stage 2: Reminiscence = July 14th 2520AD
    Stage 3: Return = Sunrise, July 14th 2521 AD
    Stage 4: Evasion = Midday, July 14th 2521 AD
    Stage 5: Victim = Sunset, July 14th 2521 AD
    Stage 6: The Origin = Twilight, July 14th 2521 AD

    This is what I thought because every time I watched the walk-through, I was realized that they have the stage number ordered in the chronological order, like from the past to the future. That’s what I know, but I don’t know how do you guys think.

    Vincent Cheong

    October 1, 2018 at 7:33 am

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