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Journey to Silius (NES) artwork

Journey to Silius (NES) review


"Journey to Silius was originally slated to be a game based on the Terminator movie license, but shortly before its release that license was mysteriously revoked from Sunsoft, either because Terminator 2 was less than a year away and a film glorifying its predecessor wouldnít make much sense or because terminators went back in time held a gun to someoneís head. Either way Sunsoft wasnít about to let all that hard work go to waste, so they did what any respectable developer w..."



Journey to Silius was originally slated to be a game based on the Terminator movie license, but shortly before its release that license was mysteriously revoked from Sunsoft, either because Terminator 2 was less than a year away and a film glorifying its predecessor wouldnít make much sense or because terminators went back in time held a gun to someoneís head. Either way Sunsoft wasnít about to let all that hard work go to waste, so they did what any respectable developer would do: release the game anyway with a different title and altered characters.

Instead of being a soldier fighting terminators, you are now some guy named Jay and your father has been killed in some accident. You find a floppy disk (because apparently we use floppy disks in the future) that contains a message from your father. He says that he thinks the terrorists (what terrorists?) are planning to ruin the development of the space colonies (huh?). You are charged with finishing your fatherís work, but instead you go off to fight the terrorists. Hereís the kicker though: the terrorists are robots that look like terminators. To make this whole situation even more bizarre, Journey to Silius was called Raf World in Japan, which is apparently the same game with a different sprite for the protagonist. What Journey to Siliusís story shows us is that the narratives in early action games are so irrelevant that they can literally be swapped in and out with little significance.

Subtle copyright violations aside though, Journey to Silius is actually a pretty decent game with its own charms and eccentricities. The main reason you should be playing it however is its unparalleled soundtrack. Iím not sure what gave me more trouble, the final boss or the uncontrollable urge to throw down my controller and dance on top of the coffee table. Iíve replayed it several times just to hear the music in level 3. Itís not simply that the arrangements are good; the music uses sound channels that I didnít even know the NES had. The graphics are sexy too.

While it might be shallow to immediately praise a game for the potency of its presentational loins, Journey to Silius is essentially a formulaic, quick-fix action game that fits somewhere between Castlevania and Mega Man, with a bit of Contra thrown in for good measure, and thus it benefits greatly from its stellar production values. The entire game is your standard go-right-kill-boss affair thatís been done countless times before, complete with the reception of a new weapon at the end of each level. What makes Journey to Silius special is its precision and polish. Youíre not just going to the right side of the screen to kill the boss; youíre going there to the tune of catchy music, well crafted levels, and zero slowdown or flickering. Journey to Siliusís presentation makes Contra look like it was produced in some guyís basement while watching a VHS of Rambo.

While some may find the physics and controls unusual, they are suited perfectly for the gameís attempt at being realistic. The controls blend real-world physics and playability by allowing you to change directions in mid-air to a degree while still exerting inertia on your sprite. Though Castlevania had already attempted to do something like this before, Journey to Silius manages to execute it without sticking the proverbial board up Jayís backside.

Levels are evenly paced, favoring methodical one-on-one fighting rather than swarms of enemies bombarding the player from all directions (donít worry though, youíll still get to blow up lots of stuff). While Journey to Silius can be difficult at times, it is never unfair or punishing in a way that makes you feel cheated. If you die, itís probably because you suck at video games Ė try not to do that. You can only fire horizontally, but some special weapons are an exception. Unfortunately, you wonít want to often use your special weapons (which consist of the prerequisite missiles, machine guns, and lasers), because they all use the same ammo gauge. Imagine playing a Mega Man game in which all of your weapons were tied to one ammo meter. Itís a minor frustration that can really suck the variety out of an already simple game.

But to be honest, if I want to experience variety or to do something that required thought, I shouldnít be playing an action game in the first place. To say that Journey to Silius is simple or does nothing new wouldnít be an exaggeration Ė in fact, that should be printed on the box. It does the whole run-right-kill-the-boss thing so well that to do something different would be to ruin a beautiful thing. Itís the epitome of NES action games: faster than sex and twice as attractive, with great music in the background. While there are only five levels, thatís the perfect length for this type of game. You might finish it in an hour or two, but everything falls together so nicely that youíll be compelled to return to it when you have the base urge to shoot stuff (or listen to catchy music). Go on, give it a try. Itíll be like having a night of passion with your NES after a lengthy abstinence from platforming and shooting. Sure it was over quickly, but it felt so good.

Rating: 7/10

dagoss's avatar
Community review by dagoss (June 11, 2008)

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