Saturn Reviews R

Radiant Silvergun (Japan)
Grade: B+
Publisher: Treasure (1998)
Reviewed: 2004/8/4

screenshotTo call Radiant Silvergun a highly regarded shooter is like saying people enjoy breathing air. This Japanese import has attained near-legendary status among Saturn enthusiasts. The game boasts extremely high production values, and the fact that it wasn't released in the states is a travesty. But while Radiant Silvergun may be the best shooter for the Saturn, that's really not saying a whole lot if you don't count Japanese releases.

The game plays like a standard 2D shooter with 3D polygon graphics that allow for nifty scaling and rotation effects. It's the control however that really sets this game apart. Each of the six buttons unleashes a unique attack, and pressing combinations of buttons provide even more possibilities. If you had an arcade-style joystick, you'll definitely want to use it with this game. Employing the proper weapon for each situation is key to surviving each treacherous stage, and it's fun to experiment.

The intense, chaotic gameplay is not unlike Dreamcast shooters like Mars Matrix and Gigawing, but Radiant Silvergun is deeper and far more challenging. An innovative "chain combo" scoring system rewards you for destroying consecutive "triples" of enemies of the same color. The stages tend to contain narrow corridors and converging enemies that require narrow escapes. The background graphics aren't too interesting, but you won't even notice them in the heat of battle. The skill level is definitely expert, so don't feel guilty about setting the difficult to easy and cranking up the lives.

My main gripe with Radiant Silvergun is its overemphasis on bosses. The stages themselves are surprisingly short, and the bosses can linger for quite a while if you don't hit their sweet spot. Most bosses are uninteresting amalgamations of rough geometric shapes rotating and moving around the screen. One of Radiant Silvergun's strong points is its amazing music soundtrack - one of the best I've heard in a shooter.

A nice two-player simultaneous mode is included. Despite being a Japanese game, it's interesting to note that most of the text (including menu options) are in English. This game typically sells for $150 or more on Ebay, and it requires some kind of "pass through" device like a Gameshark or Action Replay to run on an American Saturn. Hardcore Saturn fans will love Radiant Silvergun for the terrific shooter it is, but I'd hardly recommend it to the casual fan. © Copyright 2004 The Video Game Critic.

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1 or 2 players 

Rayman
Grade: C-
Publisher: Ubisoft (1995)
Reviewed: 2009/5/15
Rating: Kids to Adults


screenshotIn the early 90's a steady stream of platform titles arrived for the 16-bit systems, each a variation of the standard formula. Rayman attempts to take that formula to the next level with high-resolution graphics, oversized characters, lush scenery, and sophisticated controls. The star of the game is a happy-go-lucky cartoon bloke with disembodied hands and feet that float around him.

An agile fellow, Rayman can leap, punch, hang, climb, and glide between platforms. In some stages he can plant seeds to "grow" new platforms. Gamers craving the fast-paced action of Sonic the Hedgehog may find Rayman a little slow, but the controls are responsive and forgiving. The layered scenery is hardly spectacular but the soft colors are easy on the eyes. The opening jungle stage features crystal clear exotic bird sound effects and a soothing musical score. Subsequent stages offer "fantasy themes" such as worlds made of candy or musical instruments. The branching stages tend to be short and there are frequent opportunities to save your progress.

The developers tried to make Rayman cute and endearing, but he comes off like an unlikable dork. The fact that Rayman actually "makes up" with the bosses he defeats is the dumbest thing I've ever seen. In the pixelated intro video, the narrator sounds like he's reading to a preschool class. But the game's worst transgression is its frustrating stage designs. Oversized enemies like flying hammers are invincible, and most others can absorb several hits. The "Band Land" stages are a case study in bad design.

Here you'll find all the worst cliches rolled up into one, including slippery platforms, disappearing clouds, spikes, and cheap hits galore. There's so much trial-and-error involved, the zone should have been called "Honey I Fell Off the Screen". Rayman's large size is a real liability in stages that scroll continuously, since you sometimes end up running out of screen before you can properly react. I can appreciate its high production values and old-school roots, but Rayman is too tough for its own good. © Copyright 2009 The Video Game Critic.


Revolution X
Grade: F
Publisher: Acclaim (1995)
Reviewed: 2000/7/4
Rating: Mature

screenshotYou'll have to look high and low to find a worse video game than Revolution X. The premise of this debacle is that a "new world order" has risen up and prohibits everything that is fun, including music. With Aerosmith's help, it's up to you to stop this evil army! After playing Revolution X, the only people I want to stop is Aerosmith - from making more video games!!

The gameplay is incredibly shallow and boring. All you do is aim some crosshairs, hold down your machine gun button and splatter wave after wave of generic soldiers. The blood is gratuitous and phoney-looking, and the graphics suffer from extreme pixelation. In fact, the screen becomes such a mess that you can't even tell what's going on - but don't stop shooting!

The bosses are ridiculously hard to take out, even if you fire down their throat for five minutes. During all the mayhem, you may notice dancing girls in cages or the band playing in the background (I tried to shoot them). Every now and then, members of the band will offer unneeded support and advice. The only redeeming factor of this game may be the Aerosmith soundtrack. Otherwise, Revolution X is absolutely horrendous. © Copyright 2000 The Video Game Critic.

1 to 2 players 

Robo Pit
Grade: D
Publisher: Kokopeli Digital Studios (1996)
Reviewed: 2015/7/11
Rating: Teen

screenshotRobo Pit might have been impressive... in 1996. It lets you construct, save, and train your very own 3D polygon robots using a wide selection of body parts and weapons. You enter your creation i a series of one-on-one battles, ascending the ranks against 100 CPU opponents. Naturally you can also go head-to-head against a friend's robot. It's not a bad premise but was Robo Pit really the best name they could come up with? It even sounds disposable.

The best aspect of the game is its customization interface. Most construction games overwhelm you with layers of menus, but Robo Pit keeps things simple. It's a snap to change colors or swap out a hammer for a laser gun. Instead of legs your robot could have treads, coils, or spider legs. The problem is, none of the robots look particularly menacing. In fact, with their big googly eyes they look more like plush toys! The battles play out in flat, circular arenas, most of which are non-interactive.

During fights there's a lot of jumping around and little sense of mass. A battle only lasts about a minute, and close matches can be exciting. Should you emerge victorious a female voice announces "You...[8 seconds of silence while loading the next word] ...win." The CPU AI is questionable, and if you have a good weapon (like the katana) you can quickly hack and slash your way up the ranks. Chris liked this game a lot, but most of my friends couldn't get into it. The electronic music is pleasing but the chunky graphics haven't aged well. With goofy robots and bland battlefields, Robo Pit is hard to take seriously. © Copyright 2015 The Video Game Critic.

1 or 2 players 

Robotica
Grade: F
Publisher: Acclaim (1995)
Reviewed: 2007/4/19
Rating: Teen (animated violence)

screenshotOne dilemma of reviewing games is that you're forced to play the bad ones a lot longer than you normally would have, just to make sure you're not "missing" anything. Robotica is one such game that made me toil in agony. It's a dark, science fiction-themed first-person shooter (FPS) with - you guessed it - robots.

Before reviewing Robotica I applied my "game face" (as I always do), dimmed the lights, and psyched myself up to be thrust into a galactic tale of law-enforcement-robots-gone-wild. Initially you're plopped into a generic room with metal walls. Your two mechanical arms wield different weapons, but you can only use one at a time (rats!).

For a while, Robotica manages to generate a sense of foreboding and suspense as you slowly wander around generic corridors looking for a "gate key" that will allow you to exit the level. Darkness prevents you from seeing too far ahead, and the ominous music is mixed with alarming sound effects like clanking metal, heavy breathing, and wire shorts. Eventually you encounter floating robots that look pretty cool (I suppose) but are easily dispatched using basic strafe-and-fire attacks. Unfortunately, strafing is only half as fast as normal movement, and the constant darkness makes it hard to tell whom you're up against.

Robotica auto-maps your progress, which is good because every room looks the same. The floor plans are randomly generated, which may have been cool in 1995, but in 2007 it's just boring. As you traverse one floor after the next, you hope that the gameplay or scenery will change, but it never does. After eight floors of tedium, I resorted to a cheat code to peek ahead, but even a dozen floors ahead it was all the same 'old crap. There's no password feature, but that's okay because nobody will ever play Robotica more than once. On a positive note, this snore-fest laid the groundwork for Alien Trilogy, a much stronger FPS Acclaim released a year later for the Saturn and Playstation. © Copyright 2007 The Video Game Critic.

1 player 


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Screen shots courtesy of Moby Games, Shinforce, Games Database, Video Game Museum, GameSpot, Rotten Tomatoes, Racket Boy, GameFAQs.com, Old Games News, Hardcore Gaming 101, IGN.com