Shooter: Starfighter Sanvein
Success / A1 Games (2000)
The original Playstation had a lot of games released for the platform so it's easy for this game, or any game for that matter to be looked over or lost in the shuffle. I'm sure I skipped over this game many times over the years. With it's rather bland packaging I can see how many fans of the shmup genre may have never seen or played this game.
Shooter: Starfighter Sanvien is a rather odd game. Not quite a traditional shmup, it's close enough for me. The game has a backstory, but it's not well integrated into the game and thus not that important to enjoy the gameplay.
At the beginning of the game, you get to arm your starship with it's main weapon. You can choose from Gluon, Photon or Graviton weapons. Gluon weapons have a wide spread attack, while Photon are more focused laser type weapons. Graviton has a more explosive type attack.
Once you've chosen your main weapon, you get to select your special weapon. You again choose from the 3 aforementioned types. The Gluon special weapon are homing missiles and I found these to be particularly effective. Photon's special weapon is a large laser and choosing Graviton gives you a land mine type weapon. The latter was my least favorite.
Instead of a horizontally or vertically scrolling game, you are placed in an arean if you will. Each stage is a called a floor and you get to choose what path you take. The menu is displayed with the floors as hexagons, with bosses mixed in each section. You have to choose quick however which floor you're going to tackle as the clock in the lower right corner of your screen is always ticking down. Each ajoining floor you select, you're base firepower will be upped by 1 level (eventually maxing out at level 6). While you are free to select whichever floor and route to the main boss you'd like, you are rewarded by taking more of a direct, connected path.
Your starfighter doesn't have health in this game, but you do have time. Take a hit and you'll lose 90 units of time. Take too many hits and it's game over. You control your ship using the Playstation controller's D-pad or left analog stick. At first you may find the it hard to control your starfighter, especially as you are firing. You get to move all around the screen, think Asteroids, Robotron, or Geometry Wars. Note that this game was released before dual analog joysticks were the norm. As you fire, you'll notice a little kickback to your ship. However it doesn't take long before moving around feels a little more natural. The object is to clear each floor as quick as possible. Usually you only have a few enemies to beat before you get ot move on. Once you defeat one of the bosses, you'll be granted with additional time. Make your way up to the central boss (at the top/center) of the level and you'll clear the area and be moved onto the next area.
Let me say that the game looks much better than what my meager camera was able to capture. While the game won't blow you away with it's visuals, it gets the job done. With the computer looking background and the gridlines, the techno like music fits very well. The game play is simple, but fast paced. I found it to be pretty addictive and ended up playing for about 45 minutes the other day.
While the gameplay isn't really unique, it is a refreshing change of pace to shooting type games. It may not be for everyone, but it's rather cheap to be had (around $5-$10 on the secondary market) and if you play it you may just find it's better than you thought. I will point out that this game is NOT fully compatible with the PS3. The game will play, but it won't have sound. However if you've jettisoned your PS1 and want to give the game a try you're still in luck. The game is available for download on the PS Network.