B a s i c   I n f o

Title: Silpheed: Super Dogfighter

Developed by: Game Arts

Release date: 1986 /1988
Published by: Sierra (USA)

Platform: NEC PC 8801 MK / DOS
               FM7 / Apple II

 

 

 

C o v e r   A r t

PC 8801 MK (Japan)

         

    

PC (USA)

         

         

 

P l o t

Taken from the game's printed manual:

"In the year 3032, an abandoned space shuttle built by an unknown alien race was discovered orbiting Pluto. By careful analysis, Earth's scientists and engineers were able to duplicate it, making the colonization of other worlds from overcrowded Earth possible for the first time. This colonization gave rise to the Milky Way Union.
 

Xacalite, the brutal outlaw leader of a gang of interplanetary terrorists which is already equipped with a large and powerful fleet of former Union ships, has seized a newly-built battleship, GLOIRE, as the first step in a plan to take over the Union. In a series of closely spaced guerilla attacks, Xacalite's gang has raided several Union planets.


Now an emergency call has been received from the main defense base: they are under attack by Xacalite, who needs the planet destroyer missiles stored there to complete his plan. Taken by surprise, there is no time for the Union to form a defense fleet. The supercomputer YGGDRASSIL has decided the best chance for defeating Xacalite is for YOU to attack GLOIRE alone in a Super Air Fighter SA-08 Silpheed prototype, which has just passed its initial function tests. Itís up to you to acquire weapons, get past the enemyís fighters, battle the GLOIRE and save the Union."

 

O v e r v i e w

Silpheed: Super Dogfighter was launched in Japan in 1986 to the NEC PC 8801, a very popular personal computer at that time. Developed by Takeshi Miyaji and Hibiki Godai (both of them also responsible for Thexder, an very known game for those who had and MSX and that made a great success worldwide), Silpheed became known because of its innovative graphics, fun-factor and specially its soundtrack.

At that time most of the shooters utilized layers and sprites to "render" the enemies and scenario (Konami's awesome Nemesis / Gradius being the biggest example that comes to my mind). Silpheed ventured itself on polygons, that combined with the "tilted" game plain gave the player sensation of depth - objects closer to the bottom of the screen are bigger, while objects far ahead (and closer to the horizon) becomes smaller. In truth, you could only move your ship to the same directions as a top-view shot'em up. Some stages even featured backgrounds that slowly moved towards the player, enhancing the 3D sensation.

The game also supported different configurations of video (Tandy, CGA, EGA, MCGA and VGA - that's 640x400 pixels!) and could even achieve 16 colors on the screen. Pretty impressive, believe-me! To spice things up, the game rewarded the player with different types of weapons according to his score, and offered the possibility to equip different weapons on each wing, adding some kind of strategy and replay value. Some weapons were better for some stages and its own waves of enemies. This, and the shield system (where when you get hit, you lose part of your shield until it's gone - if this happens, your ship will get weapons or engines failure - get hit again you're gone) would became the norm for the series mechanics.


Above: and you believed that
Star Fox was original...

Silpheed, alongside few other titles at that time, had a great soundtrack - a feature that was also used to sell the first commercialized computer soundcards (AdLib/SoundBlaster and Roland MT-32). At that time, most games had its sound effects and music "beeped" through the computer cabinet speaker. Those who had an dedicated soundcard could listen to the soundtrack - which greatly contributed to experience. Don't believe me? Well, just listen to the samples:

PC Speaker

Tandy

Adlib/SBlaster

Roland MT-32

The sound effects were fairly simple and an awful digitalized voice (it's 1986) complemented the audio department.

After some stages you had brief cutscenes (sometimes longer) showing your ship docking to refuel or just passing by some planets. It's a nice detail that tries to keep the player's attention, since the experience is somewhat repetitive (the game is 20 levels long, but have only four different background scenarios that repeats itself).

I didn't originally played Silpheed on the computer (at that time my dad had a MSX, which received Thexder but not Silpheed), but from what I could see it was a great game to its time that have found a place into people's tender memories.

Overview originally written in 2010. Updated in 2012.

 

T r i v i a

- The plot says that Xacalite "stole missiles capable of destroying entire planets", but you never get to see those in-game. However, I believe that they're shown on the first stage of Silpheed on the Sega CD (which doesn't mention them on its plot, but the pilot refer to them as "L-type" missiles ), and also get a bigger screentime on Silpheed: The Lost Planet.

- The Silpheed PC-88 release had two hidden minigames on the disk. One is a text-based game, and the other is an ASCII-based vertical shmup. You can see it here!

- While the SA-08 was redesigned for the Sega CD title (launched 7 years later), mostly enemies were reused.

 

S c r e e n s h o t s

Since I didn't managed to install/play this game on my computer, I borrowed some screens from MobyGames!