1999 was a really long time ago. When you take a good look at how some things worked, you can consider yourself lucky because of some events. While it may be just another game, I consider myself quite fortunate for playing Silent Bomber when I had the chance. Back then, anti-piracy laws were practically nonexistent here, in Serbia (and frankly,they are rarely enforced even today, when they do exist). The majority of people had little money, while others were much much better off. The guys with more money would earn even more money off those not so well off. Did we kids mind? Heck, no! We spent a fortune on the piracy-sustained arcades. Unlike the typical arcades the rest of the world is used to (although we had those, too), these “game clubs” were rooms with 4-5 TV sets, each one with a console and a library of games to play. These establishments kicked off with the 16-bit era and survived until a few years after the PS2 was released. I used to frequent a game club which got newly burnt batches of games every month. Of course, you had to try all the newest games and that’s how I was introduced to Silent Bomber.
I didn’t pay much attention to anything in the game other than the fast-paced Bomberman action on steroids (trust me, when you pay by the hour, you skip all the cutscenes, with the only exception being the ending). I never beat the game, because someone would always erase my save from the club’s memory card (usually because of Football Manager taking up 15 memory card blocks). Fast forward a few years, you have a high-speed Internet connection, games that don’t interest you (or you can’t run on your PC) and all of a sudden you start reminiscing about your past gaming experiences. Thankfully, Silent Bomber is as fun now as it was back then.
Developed by CyberConnect2 of .hack fame, Silent Bomber is a fast-paced top-down mixture of Contra and Bomberman. You play as Jutah Fate, a bio-engineered soldier who unknowingly slaughtered innocent civilians and was afterwards sentenced to 300 years in war prison, traumatized by what he had done. 7 years later, the planet has to resort to recruiting war prisoners to have any hope of stopping the giant spaceship Dante. Jutah’s team has to now infiltrate the Dante and sabotage it from the inside.
And what better way to stop a ship than burning everything to the ground? As if the name wasn’t hint enough, this game is about you using bombs in your rampage. You either plant them where you are standing, or from a distance onto your opponent. There’s a limited number of bombs you can set and after reaching the limit you have to detonate them before setting additional ones. It is also possible to stack bombs, increasing their power and causing more damage. To keep things from getting boring, there are also three special bombs which can be depleted. The napalm bomb, which causes area-of-effect damage over time; the gravity bomb, which creates a miniature black hole; and the EMP which disables mechanical targets (you will be begging for these later on).
Before each mission, you may distribute any E-chips you have found over three different stats: bomb (the amount of bombs you can have set at any given moment), range (the distance from which you can set bombs) and shield (how much punishment you can take before dying). E-chips are never spent and you may redistribute them before every mission if you want to change your strategy or a change of pace. And what do you do in each mission? You burn everything to the ground. Robots, mecha-suits, bio labs, residential building, everything. There are a few missions with some additional objectives, like a time limit, or protecting a certain target, but the gist is destruction in all its blazing bishonen glory.
While the gameplay is, without a doubt, excellent, the story is mind-numbingly cheesy. It’s the Japanese version of early Steven Seagal movies, with the acting budget of Resident Evil 2. You will either cringe at every cutscene or cry your eyes out. And trust me, Silent Bomber uses absolutely every trope in the book, even the “I regret nothing!” line and a chess motif . Here’s a video of the tutorial, you’re better off seeing it yourself:
Time: the best run you can do is around an hour and thirty minutes, although a first playthrough might take much longer. Things especially slow down when you reach the final boss, who is Nintendo Hard.
Gripes: the voice acting and story will get on your nerves if you’re not a fan of cheesiness and trash. The multiplayer mode is pretty bare-bones, but then again no-one would notice if the game didn’t have one.
Get it for the: unique and fun gameplay. The game is hard to come by these days if you want a physical copy, but it is available on the Japanese PSN store.
[Screenshots were taken from PSXextreme]