Journey to Silius review
Metal ContraTerminatorSlug Man
Most people say that most movie-based games are horrible NES games that have no redeeming factors, except for Batman. Well, Batman is not the only exception on the NES; meet Journey To Silius. Journey To Silius is technically a game based on the first Terminator movie, but since Terminator 2 was on its way while this game was too, the developers (Sunsoft) lost the licence and had to make something up. There are still remnants of the movie in the game (ie. some of the music and the final boss), but other than that, it was just something Sunsoft made up on the spot, so technically, it is kind of a movie-based game, but at the same time, it's an original game too. Don't understand? Neither do I. But anyway, onto the review.
Story: The beginning scene shows that the Jay's (the main character) dad has died after years of developing a space colony. The news report said that his death was an accident, but the main character figures out that it was robot terrorists that killed his dad. Simple stuff, but a pretty good story. Back in 8-bit land, this was considered gold (too bad the game was unnoticed or everyone back in 1990 would be like "zOMG JERNY 2 SILIUS HAS A HELLA GOOD STORY"), especially when compared to the legions of "SAVE TEH PRINCESS FROM THE EVIL BEAST". Plus... The plot feels a fair bit like the original Terminator's plot, doesn't it? If you don't, just play this game, then watch Terminator 1. You may see similarities beyond the music going "DE DE DEDE!" towards the end of the intro scene as well as the final boss.
Gameplay: If you've played Mega Man, Metal Slug and/or Contra, this game is already too familiar to you. It's a run and gun game where you shoot enemies with an assortment of different guns like the pistol, shotgun, machine gun, laser, homing missile and grenade launcher, 4 of which you get as you go through 4 of the game's 5 levels.
You basically have to get from point A to point B like in any other run and gun game, but unlike the likes of Contra, the levels are very long...almost Mega Man long. Whoa and there's no transition from different parts of levels, because there's only the huge level filled to the brim with enemies and pits, and then it transitions to the boss room, that's an entire level for you (with a slight exception to level 5 which has 2 boss parts instead of just 1). But basically, they're huge difficult levels where you run and shoot the crap out of enemies that come your way. Simple as a bitch, right? Well, yeah!
You have two different bars - health bar and gun bar. The gun bar affects 5 of the 6 guns (I mean if it affected the pistol, you're screwed!), however, all the guns share the same gun bar, so if you run out with the machine gun, you can't use it, the shotgun or any other weapon that isn't the pistol. This would force conservation...no, wait, it does! Though I personally only use them against the bosses anyway. But like in Mega Man, you can refill the gun bar by killing enemies and collecting blue cells. Collecting red cells heals you by the way. Defeating a boss also refills both bars, so that's nice of Sunsoft. Thanks, mates. I'd hate to conserve my ammo for the entirety of the game.
To actually get more weapons, you have to defeat the strongest enemy, who is usually towards the end of the level. They can be a pain to defeat, but going rapid fire with your pistol while ducking and jumping to dodge enemy fire. They're fairly interesting, though the best is yet to come.
The bosses, holy shit, they are freaking awesome! Well, aside from the first boss, all of the bosses are bloody awesome. Most of them are screen fillers (hell, 2 of them take up 4/5 of the screen) and look fearsome, though you just use weapons you have to kill them. The first boss is kind of unimpressive, because it is just a helicopter. The final boss was about the same thing; unimpressive, though much more impressive. It's the evil Terminator from Terminator! Problem - he's rather easy, but after the fight before, I can see why (it's a GIANT ENEMY SHIP). Aside from the little hiccups, the boss selection was awesome.
However, that's not to say that this game is easy. Actually, this game is quite hard. Prepare to see the game over screen commonly. Despite the fact that you have a health bar, it's still a very hard game, though I find Contra harder. Also, this game is fairly short. 35-45 minutes is all it takes to complete this game. But I find that it's the best 35-45 minutes in life (in terms of video games), so... I don't know, it's good but a little disappointing at the same time. With a game like this, I was expecting a bit longer. But I guess you can't please everyone, considering people either thought this was a good length, and others didn't give two craps. I think it's at least an improvement over Blaster Master, which was way too long without saving. I don't have 2-3 hours straight to kill on the NES anymore (or any system for that matter, bar PC).
So overall, I would say that the gameplay aspect is almost nothing new, but almost everything amazing.
Control: The controls are solid. The scheme is simple and typical of run and gun games. The d-pad moves you or lets you duck. It doesn't let you aim up though, but we can live with that. You can press A to jump and B to shoot. Shooting is simple enough, but jumping is a little tricky at first. Jay jumps sort of realistically; as in if you're going to change direction while jumping, it'll be a bit on the stiff side, and will feel like he's falling in an arc. I'd say this is more lenient than Castlevania's 1D jumping, but stiffer than Contra's jumping. Navigating the pause menu is simple as it gets. Press start, then press select until you get the weapon you want, then press start. It might seem complex, but its not.
Graphics: The game is pretty nice to look at, you have to admit that. The visuals are quite detailed and everything looks the way it should. The animations are also very fluent and all work; none of them feel out of place whatsoever. The backgrounds are all very detailed too, not just a solid color, but actual backgrounds. You have to play the game to know what I mean.
Audio: Oh, come on! Let's face it; the entire point of even checking this game out was because it has the NES's best soundtrack! You probably could care less that it was a balls on the wall run and gun game that gets a lot of stuff right, because of the damn soundtrack! Seriously, the quality of the soundtrack is just amazing - beyond that of a typical NES game even! It's also very catchy and has a very futuristic feel to it, so there's bonus points there, and finally (and maybe a bit less important), the soundtrack was made by 5 people. 5 people made this soundtrack! Is that common in NES games? No! It's usually like 2 or 3 people! And trust me, that shows when you get around to listening to the soundtrack.
The sound effects... Well, they're also well done. Everything sounds the way they're supposed to, and they're also quite well done. They're taken from Blaster Master I'm willing to bet, but that's not a bad thing; maybe a good thing. Bottom line - good. Soundtrack - freaking orgasmic!
Replay Value: Unfortunately, there isn't really much replay value to the game unless you don't mind playing over and over again. There isn't any co-op mode to speak of, so you can't really play this with your friends (unless you take it in turns). This is only a bit like Contra's; it's just because you want to get better and better at the game and show off. Of course, it's quite difficult, not quite as difficult as Contra, but still fairly difficult, so you'll probably feel more inclined to replay this. I don't know. I find myself playing this once in a while.
Overall: Journey To Silius is a great game to play on occasion. Don't even give it a second thought! It's a fun as hell game and you will get your money's worth for it (or at least some rewarding experience out of it). Although it wasn't too famous, it's obscurity doesn't change anything; it's still a fantastic game and you should... Why haven't you bought and played this yet?
Replay Value: 7/10
My verdict - Buy!