Game Reviews
Game Reviews / Silpheed: Super Dogfighter
Publisher: Game Arts / Sierra Online
Rated: Everyone
Released Year: 1986 (Japan) / 1988 (NA)
Consoles:
- PC ~ Disk Operating System
Genres:
- Shooter / Space Shooter
Summary:
  • After venturing into outer space due to salvaging an alien ship which crashed on Earth, humanity formed the "United Universe". However, not all of humanity agreed with this organization, and a number of rogue planets stood opposed to them.

    Eventually, a criminal and leader of the "Anti-United Universe" who goes by Xacalite, stole a battleship named Gloire and later stole planetary buster missiles. The United Universe's computer, YGGDRASIL, responded immediately to the problem by dispatching the prototype SA-08 Super Dogfighter, Silpheed, to attack and destroy Gloire.
 Contributor: Kuro-chan

Overall Rating: 7.1

"20 levels, lots of shooting and lots of fun! :)"

Plot / Concept: 6 / 10   

This game was more about shooting the living Kuro (pardon the pun) out of anything than an actual storyline. The story is rather unnecessary, but at least it came with one. Still, it is easy enough to skip the intro and get right into the game action.

What you are looking at is a classic Japanese-style space sci-fi scenario. Humanity ends up with advanced technology and easily travels to the stars, forming colonies and establishing a large-scale government. However, elements within this union secede and wage a campaign of war and terror. To top things off, they manage to steal your fleet's most advanced battleship and planet-killing missiles. Wasting no time is assembling forces, you are dispatched in the first of six prototype super dogfighters to wage a one-man campaign against them; Fight through their lines and destroy the stolen battleship.

Sure... Simple enough...
Gameplay: 9 / 10   

Even though it is a very old game and rather simple to play, it was quite excellent for it's time. 20 levels of continuous battle, dodging enemy projectiles (to the point that by the end of the game, if you can master it, Touhou should be no problem), lots of baddies to shoot up and lots of weapons and upgrades to earn and collect.

The game starts off reasonably easy at the start, but the difficulty builds up as you go through them, to the point you must be a serious shooter and dodger by the later levels.

Some stages offer unique challenges. For instance:
- The Planetary Orbit levels lets you start at full power, but there are no upgrades to collect along the way, turning it into more of a survival round.
- The Fortress levels are all about tough ships, energy doors and walls that can crush you. You need maximum forward power to get through these.
- Asteroid Fields add the additional challenge of large space rocks that can collide with you as you fly around.

At the end of each stage is a 'boss' ship; one that requires far more firepower to bring down (And always gives you lots of points to collect). Beware though: A couple stages have more than one boss.

You can collect various upgrades as you travel across the map by shooting special red & blue capsules called Golans. Items will pop out of them you can collect for various upgrades, recharges and upgrades; some temporary and others permanent.

In this game, your score counts, because after every 50,000 points, you unlock another weapon you can choose from when you reach your tender at the end of every level. Some weapons are far more useful in some scenarios that others, so it is a matter of learning the right balance. For instance: The Laser Cannon is great for a Fortress level, but are lousy for Planetary Orbit missions because of how easily you can be surrounded.

Most available versions of Silpheed are cracked by now since it used to use an old copy protection system known at the "Instruction Manual". The protection would display a ship and you would need to enter it's name.
Controls: 7 / 10   

The keyboard movements are reasonably logical, and if you have knowledge in how to handle old-school DOS commands, that will help you learn how to play this game with little to no tutorial. However, without such a background, there are a lot of odds and ends which first-time players may have difficulty in tracking down. The movements in-game are very precise, too, which allows me to play it as I want to.

I would suggest you try with this with a keyboard hooked into a PS/2 port rather than a USB one. Depending on your keyboard model, you may find you cannot press enough keys at a time to perform the maneuvers you need to win with a USB keyboard.
Music: 7 / 10   

The game comes with around a dozen different music tracks and is sequenced by the old adlib synthesizer system (Pre-Sound Blaster days). If you were lucky enough to have an adlib card, an old Sound Blaster or a Roland CM-32L synth card , you could hear the music playing in the background. Each track suited what was going on rather well, regardless of what it was (fortress, planet strafing, boss battles, etc.)
Sound Effects: 3 / 10   

The PC Speaker doubled as the sound effects, but since most PC Speakers were rather loud in the old days, there is a high degree of wanting to 'mute' them and just leave the background music going. Still, I found the sound effects to be somewhat distracting...
Graphics: 7 / 10   

This 'is' a 3-d game, even if it does not feel like much of one. It is also limited to 16 colours, due to the graphics renderring of the time (though not many computers would have supported EGA by '86 anyway). Still, the enemies are easy to recognize, they get bigger as they get closer to the bottom of the screen, and to show off it's 3-d potential, so do angle and rotate as they move along the battle screen. Nice effort!
Replay Value:
Medium-High. You either love it or hate it. It starts off reasonably easy, but gets difficult quickly, forcing you to either get good at early or give up on it, once and for all.

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