B a s i c   I n f o

Title: Silpheed: The Lost Planet

Plataform: Playstation 2

Release date: 2000

Developed by: Game Arts; Treasure

Published by: Working Designs

 

 

C o v e r   A r t s

North America

         

Japan

         

 

German

         

Europe

         

 

P l o t

Here's the deal, straight from official source:

More than five centuries have passed since mankind first ventured into space. Although there has been suffering from occasional civil wars and unrest, mankind now prizes its peace and prosperity. The planet Solont, located near the center of the galaxy, is the 11th world the be colonized by man, and it is about to be visited by a new and unknown life form. 31 years after the Zakarite Civil War, mankind is about to confront a new threat - a threat from the darkest corner of the universe. The future of the human race now rests in the weary hands of the Silpheed Squadron, made up of the most skilled starfighter pilots in the Federation of Planetary Space Forces (FPSF). Every pilot in the group of space aces files the Silpheed Type J, which boasts a defensive
shield and two huge weapon racks for an incomparable combination of flexibility and power.

 

T r a n s l a t i o n   N o t e s

Working Designs was the responsible for bringing Silpheed: The Lost Planet to the north america. They included on the game's manual the following note:

"Silpheed: The Lost Planet is an update of a pioneering space shooter that first introduced console audiences to polygons and streaming video. Back when console CD-ROM was in its infancy, Game Arts decided to update a PC shooter called simply Silpheed. However, the update would take advantage of a new technology based on real-time flat-shaded polygons overlaid on a streaming pre-rendered video. This was a revolutionary idea at the time. Users playing the game would not be able to tell what was rendered in real-time and what was not, if Game Arts did their job well. They did. The game blew away hardcore video game enthusiasts when it was released in Japan, and also did reasonably well here. The fans were impressed by the feeling that they were moving and interacting in a 3D polygon world with huge objetcs and deadly enemies. How Game Arts achieved that feeling didn't really concerned them.

Flash-forward six years. The technology had finally caught up to Game Arts' vision. Now the entire environment could be rendered in real-time, and additional eye-candy like shadows, lightning and particle effects could WOW users all over again. Game Arts decided to work with the well-respected maestros of shooter mayhem at Treasure to re-craft their classic. Treasure was responsible for many of the most important gaming milestones of the 90's, and Silpheed: The Lost Planet was their first foot into the new milleninium of gaming. By all accounts, Silpheed: TLP realized their updated goals by bringing fast action, huge bosses, tough gameplay, and incredible visuals to a whole new audience on the Playstation 2 in Japan.

When we converted the game for release in the US market, we changed very little. The two major changes were removal of slowdown present in the Japanese release, and the addition of analog control. Analog control was important to retain the "arcade" feel of the shooter, rather than forcing gamers to bust their thumbs on the directional buttons.

That's it, the history of Silpheed and a little translation info to enrich the useless-knowledge area of your brain. Have fun playing the game, and we'll see you next with our RPG opus, Arc the Lad Collection. Keep your cards and letter with questions and suggestions coming. Remember, we're nothing without you..."

 

O v e r v i e w

End of 2000. The Playstation 2 has just came to life. At that time I was really not impressed with its games (maybe only with the upcoming Metal Gear Solid 2), since I was now a devoted PC gamer and had all the power of 3D cards and the fun of multiplayer matches over the internet. One day, however, while reading the news I suddenly saw that familiar space ship silhouette on a screenshot. "OMG, they are bringing back Silpheed! I need to play that!" I thought to myself. Sometime later I managed to get a copy and went to my friend's house to play on his new monolith console.

The game was really a joy to behold. The cutscenes were mostly well done, and to see my beloved Silpheed come to life with textures and all that it deserves made me smile. Amazing! At least for the first half-hour. I started noticing that while some new features were added, the gameplay experience as a whole was even more simplified. First: they removed the "optional weapon" idea. What once was a mechanic that added a little strategy to the game is now gone. You pilot that amazing space ship with huge-phallic-cannon that doesn't shot anything at all. Makes sense? Nope. They added new weapons choices for your main guns, but most of them are totally useless. Also gone are the powerups - the only way to reload your shield is between the stages and on the refueling that takes place mid-level.

Second: thanks to the new tech, we have now beautiful background rendered with textures. Really amazing, but not enough. Those who played the Sega CD version will notice that here, on the PS2, the background almost doesn't interact at all with what's happening on the first plain, while also moving at a very, very slow pace when compared to the Sega CD's FMV. It doesn't have all those turns and dives which would almost make people sick. Just watch five minutes of gameplay from both games and you'll understand what I'm talking about. Where levels once were a great part of the show (and an enemy with its own dangers), now they are just nice backgrounds with very little animation that becomes boring after 60 seconds.


Above: Cool. Nice refueling ship!

I believe that the game has also lost some of its (fake) "3D depth" thanks to the change in the angle of the game plain. Let'me show what I'm talking about comparing these screenshots:


Above: It's easier to understand seeing it in motion

I'm nitpicking on this one, but I believe that the 60 angle on the Sega CD allows you to better immerse on the action. You can also see a little far away. While this is a minor change, I think it is worth noticing it.

They said that The Lost Planet was a remake, but I should point it out that this isn't entirely true. Apart from one or other reference, there's a new storyline and enemies, so The Lost Planet itself is more like a sequel. Here the villain is this unknown alien species that has the ability to assimilates everything into their own biological organism. Looks cool at first, but after a few stages it became another thing for me to dislike. Finally they tried to do some more interesting bosses, but I think that the art direction towards them lacks refinement - some of them looks goofy and not menacing at all. It's hard to design enemies that combines biological and technological stuff, and The Lost Planet is an example of how to do it the uninspired way. Sometimes I almost feel sorry for them.


Above: Not so cool anymore...

And the music and sound effects? Well, it was nice and exciting to see the remake of Silpheed's launch sequence with the original music, but as soon as the voice started I knew that the chattering was going to be a disappointment. Not that the Sega CD's dialogues are great (they are cheese, but that's from a time when games were first introducing voice overs), but here some of them are downright over-the-top and badly executed. At least the nostalgia factor helps a little, since a few old lines are recycled. The music itself doesn't add anything to the experience. It doesn't have the same presence and is not memorable at all - which is sad, since this series is remembered not only because of its graphics, but also its music.

I should say that I have enormous respect for the talented artists at Game Arts, Treasure and Working Designs. They made many gems that I love, but unfortunately that's not the case with Silpheed: The Lost Planet. This overview (or review) may sounds a little harsh, but that's just my feelings as someone who really loved Silpheed on the Sega CD and was expecting to see the same pace and immersion. Working Designs said that "The technology had finally caught up to Game Arts' vision", however what I don't see in The Lost Planet is the same level of commitment from Treasure - something that Game Arts definitely had seven years before on the Sega CD. In the words of John Szczepaniak (2012), in his excelent article about the Silpheed series:

"What makes Treasure's lack of effort on this especially shameful, is that for the later developed Gradius V for Konami, a company from which they originally splintered, they pulled out all the stops to create probably the best hori-shmup on the system. (...) Furthermore, a mere year after the Japanese release, Treasure would bring out Ikaruga in arcades, another vertical shmup and one which commands as much reverence as Radiant Silvergun. It's impossible to fathom how in the intervening years between Radiant Silvergun and Ikaruga, Treasure could produce a vertical shmup of such abject banality."

Don't expect anything incredible or exciting from The Lost Planet. Nonetheless, this game delivers just the punch for any shoot'em up fan and should please the eyes of those who likes nice graphics.

Overview originally written in 2010. Updated in 2012.

 

T r i v i a

- For the first time on the series not only you can configure your two main guns with different weapons, but you can also shoot them at different cadency. This way, you can strategically shoot one slight ahead of the other, getting an almost continuum stream of fire.

- The game has six stages, interconnected through cutscenes and also featuring a brand new "briefing/log entry" screen.

- Gloire, the stolen spacecraft and final boss on the previously games, once again returns.

 

S c r e e n s h o t s

Shots from every cutscene and stage on the game! Knock yourself out!