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Silent Assault (NES) artwork

Silent Assault (NES) review

"Of all the games someone could possibly clone, why Rush'n Attack? The game is already considered by some to be an offshoot of Contra, and it's not a particularly classic game, yet Sachen developed a pretty raw unlicensed title for the NES called Silent Assault that borrows many elements of both games. The title is fitting, as few people know of its existence. The development feels reckless and almost untested, and the graphics, sounds, and all around planning felt very scraped together. It's th..."

Of all the games someone could possibly clone, why Rush'n Attack? The game is already considered by some to be an offshoot of Contra, and it's not a particularly classic game, yet Sachen developed a pretty raw unlicensed title for the NES called Silent Assault that borrows many elements of both games. The title is fitting, as few people know of its existence. The development feels reckless and almost untested, and the graphics, sounds, and all around planning felt very scraped together. It's the kind of game that people will miss out on and not regret. The game's awfulness also adds to a new level of gaming; playing forward to see the awkward and often inept visions of poor game development.

Silent Assault is yet another alien invasion game. Turns out some demonic aliens have used their mind control powers to take over Earth, from its military to its carnival scene. Being the only person not under their control, you now have to stand up to the rest of the world. Between you and final glory is a large cast of stock enemies. Oh, but no bats this time. This is the one NES game loaded with stock enemies that does not include bats. You'd think this being an alien invasion game, and one where the military has been taken over, that you enemies would consist of weird creatures and military personnel. You would probably not expect mummies, flying jellyfish, clowns, fat circus hookers, rolling boulders, jetpack soldiers that throw stars, or Venus flytraps to be your opponents. The game is teeming with them. It's almost as though Sachen took a preset sprite kit and applied every enemy in it to the game regardless of theme.

The game consists of eight linear, side scrolling levels in which you must mercilessly gun down every generic sprite you see until you reach the end and fight the boss. Every level is literally a matter of walking from one end to the other. There are very few complications, complexities, platforms, or anything to break the tedium of walking forward. The only major nuance is the second level, which is split into two floors. You play a man with a gun that shoots... knives? You can clearly see a gun in his hand, and clearly see knives flying from it. Like I said, preset sprite kit. Most enemies are not planned or placed, but simply appear. Even when you've cleared the board, more of these enemies will spawn. This can make the game irritating at times. You're trying to advance, but three of those damn flying jellyfish are hovering around dropping bombs on you. If you have the basic weapon, killing them can take a while because the knife gun's initial speed is very slow. After killing one or even two, another one might appear. Top that off, ground enemies are also constantly spawning while you're trying to kill the ones in the sky, and even the ground ones are shooting at you. You really have to run, duck, dodge and shoot in some instances. It's maddening, but it's still nothing a little patience can't cure.

Killing enemies nets you some weapon power ups, which is the only cool thing about this game. In addition to your knife gun, you can get a machine gun and a shotgun. Grabbing additional power ups of the weapon you already possess can actually power up that weapon. So if you have the knife gun and another knife gun falls, you can actually power it up to make it stronger and faster. The only troublesome thing about power ups is that their on-screen lifespan seems inconsistent. Sometimes those power ups will remain on the screen for a long enough time for you to grab them, and other times they'll vanish almost immediately.

Many of levels are questionable. Some make sense, like going to an ammo dump or a missile silo, but others like a carnival, the desert, or the rain forest make no sense. It felt like Sachen ran out of ideas for levels and didn't want to rehash the same level over and over again, so instead they made a few odd levels. Or their sprite kit also included some environmental graphics and they just ran with it.

Many of them suffer from conventional design flaws such as poor collision detection and all around poor development or design. In the second level, if you stay on the top floor for too long, you will come to a dead end. The screen will not scroll in the opposite direction, nor are there any ladders to let you down. You're stuck. The only thing you can do here is jump through the top of the screen a la Cheetahmen and kill yourself. That very same level also has ladders allowing you to go up or down. Well, mostly up. You can't climb down them. Rather, if you try to walk over them you will fall through the floor. That can leave you wide open or cause you to fall right into a peril. It's counterintuitive, because most games allow you to walk over ladders. Also, if you kill someone up above, the power ups fall through the floor to the bottom level.

Other levels have characters walking on air or just below the ground level. It isn't inherently irritating, but it does show some major design flaws that were not rectified and calls to question any beta testing that was done on this game.

The seventh level also has the one and only opportunity for platforming. There is a part where you will come to a river and you won't know what to do. You get closer and closer to the thing, and you're pretty sure you can't jump it. You have to get almost to the very edge of the river and make a platform appear. Did I mention that the jumping physics are incredibly wonky? Sometimes, when jumping forward, you won't move forward at all, and pushing back to correct your jump causes you to fall straight down. This scene also shows the bugginess of the game. Throw a grenade here to clear out all the enemies and you'll also kill the platform. It will not respawn.

Every level is a discolored, messy environment with floating background items and nauseating colors. Level 1 consists of a bunch of floating trees, giant single color triangles that I assume are mountains, and the occasional bright pink truck that may or may not be floating. Sometimes, it's difficult to know what's a platform and what isn't. You can jump on some barrels in the first level, but not some of the floating blocks later on? The third level also has the most nauseating salmon background color. There's nothing else there. Just salmon for as far as the eye can see. No clouds, no buildings. Many other levels showcase environments that look like little more than something created in a matter of seconds using MS Paint. Many of them are blocks of color slapped together to resemble something, like a cactus or a carnival booth. It makes the game feel very, very cheesy.

The bosses are almost the best part, because they so do not fit the “alien invasion” aspect of this game. It's just so laughable. Some of them, like the first and third boss, are plausible. The second boss has you fighting two giant gears. Yes, you fight gears. You want to know what they throw at you? Smaller gears. Clearly, Sachen wanted to include gear sex in this game. Later on, you also fight a giant clown head and an anthropomorphic tree, both of which shoot generic projectile at you. Go figure.

The worst part about the bosses is that half the time you don't know where to hit them. Most games have you hit bosses in the mouth. You try that and it doesn't work. You shoot them in the eyes and that doesn't work. You shoot and shoot and shoot until you find that you really did have to hit them in the mouth, only in a very exact spot. This is the case with the tree boss in level 7. Timing your shots is another matter.

The bosses themselves are also very easy. Almost every boss is the same. It sits there on the right side of the screen and fires two projectile at you. One shot is usually a little higher than the other, and often comes at you at an angle. Each boss has two weak points, both of which must be killed. Killing one weak point actually makes the boss easier. This causes that particular weak point to cease fire, giving you more room to breathe while the remaining weak point fires away. Learning the boss' rhythms is not hard at all, and even a person of limited gaming prowess can master a boss battle in this game with a little practice. It helps that the same strategy pretty much applies to all but the final boss.

To say that the soundtrack is limited would be generous. If you download the main theme you hear in the first level, you will own the entire soundtrack to this game. It's the same song over and over again, even when you're fighting bosses. There's nothing particularly horrid about the song. It's actually quite dull. It's just that it's the only song you hear, and it will drive you insane.

Dull levels, easy bosses, straightforward gameplay along with lackluster design and cheesy graphics all add up to one terrible game. This game is really no fun to play. It's mildly challenging at first, but once you have the rhythm down, you can beat the game easily. Silent Assault feels like it needed a very bad beta testing and some more well designed graphics, especially in the environments. It feels haphazardly slapped together in almost every sense, from the random levels to the stock enemies to the laughable bosses. It feels incomplete.


JoeTheDestroyer's avatar
Community review by JoeTheDestroyer (November 18, 2010)

Rumor has it that Joe is not actually a man, but a machine that likes video games, horror movies, and long walks on the beach. His/Its first contribution to HonestGamers was a review of Breath of Fire III.

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