Sunday, 4 August 2013

Silent Bomber (PSX)

Today I'm taking a quick look at a game on the PlayStation called Silent Bomber.

I've been wanting to give this a try since I first found on a demo disc years ago. Though for some reason I had it in my head that it was called Blast Radius, so I was a bit confused when I finally got hold of that game, loaded it up, and found it had very little to do with running around and dropping bombs. I'm pretty sure I've got the right game this time though. 87% sure.

Okay, that's amazing: the game's title swooshes on screen like it's a fuzzy studio logo found at the start of an ancient VHS tape. So cheesy, so blurry.

Even the music is dead on perfect, sounding like it's from an 80s thriller: Silent Bomber title theme (youtube link).

Okay, I'm playing as a guy called Jutah (pronounced 'you-tah') fresh out of training and on his first real mission. But this is the tutorial level, so his commander has to explain the most basic of concepts step by step over the radio as he goes.

In this case I'm learning how to use my primary weapon: a remote triggered bomb. Tapping 'square' plants it at my feet, then tapping 'triangle' frees it from the tyranny of existence (and hopefully clears up some of this debris in the blast).

Holy shit Jutah, you think you used enough explosives there? It's so bright it has a lens flare. You could see that blast from space!

NASA will be holding a press conference later to tell the world that they've located a second star in our solar system and it's located just down this street.


Okay Commander, I get it! I can blow up bits of the scenery to reveal chemicals and then mix with my bombs for exciting new kinds of explosions etc. Please just drop the invisible wall and let me move on already!

It reminds me of one of those classic side-scrolling beat 'em ups that traps you on a small section of street until you've finished beating everyone around you into unconsciousness. This has a lot more freedom to move around than that, but the camera is always locked to give me a side view of whatever street I'm in and there's nothing I can do to rotate the view. The second analogue stick seems entirely functionless in fact.

Crap, we're getting a bit advanced all of a sudden aren't we? Now I have to dodge a fleet of helicopters firing missiles at me from close range. Well, it's better than long range I guess.

Fortunately I have a horizontal dodge move activated by double tapping the jump button. It's not a quite a true double jump, but I'll take anything that gets me out of the way of the missiles right now.

It's a bit tricky to drop bombs under flying enemies, but fortunately I don't have to as I've been given a handy blue targeting cone. With this bomb button held down I can lock onto an enemy and fire both my sticky bombs at them.

It's a nice feature, though it does mean I have to run right at the enemies currently trying to kill me. Once the cone is yellow I can quickly dart the other way and hit the detonate button and...


Not the world's most interesting screenshot, but I felt that I owed you an explosion after all that.

It's their own fault really. Air to ground missiles have a range that can be measured in miles, so what kind of helicopter pilot would fly close enough to their target for them to be able to jump up and stick a bomb onto the cockpit? The only time that would ever make sense is if the target was escaping on the roof of a train down the Channel Tunnel and the pilot wanted to see if he could cut the guy's head off with the tip of his rotor blades. Also the pilot would have to be Jean Reno.

Uh oh. It turns out that some of the people that Jutah has been bombing have been civilians. He freaks out about it for a second until his commander on the radio calmly tells him to get back to murdering people. And then he does! He blows the shit out of them all! I thought this was going to be the point where he went rogue and fought back against his evil government, but nope the guy just goes on committing war crimes.

To be fair, his commander does have a very authoritative voice.

Oh phew, it was all just a dream. About something that actually happened.

"Every day I awake from the same nightmare. Seven years have passed, yet I'm still torturing myself." Damn man, having to go through a tutorial level 2500 times really would be torture.

We're actually on a spaceship right now, about to carry out a daring raid on the super dreadnought Dante before it can attack their home planet of... well it sounds like they're calling it 'Hornet', but I'm not 100% on that (because it's a dumb name for a planet).

We'll be using the Return of the Jedi plan of sneaking past their defences in a shuttle using stolen IFF codes.

Ah, so that's how I can drop infinite bombs two at a time: I've got big arm-mounted bomb launchers.

"Excuse me, so we're merely pawns in some elaborate game that will determine the fate of the world is that it?", inquires another member of the assault team. "Then which player is going to be fortunate enough to checkmate fate I wonder?"

No mate, we're more like a lone strike team on a desperate mission to infiltrate and sabotage a massively overwhelming force before it invades/destroys/etc. our homeworld. Dumb-ass.

Whoa, the Dante is one ugly starship. The busy texturing on it makes it hard to tell what I'm even looking at here. It'll be a pleasure to remove this thing from existence.

But sadly the Return of the Jedi gambit fails and Jutah is sent crashing against the hull in an escape pod. He climbs out of his ruined pod and then suffocates and dies in the cold vacuum of space.

Oh wait, it turns out that he's actually fine. Jutah's a gruff grizzled war vet now, he ain't got time to asphyxiate. Though that fire seems to be burning just fine as well so maybe we're actually inside the ship now?

Either way the game gets 50 points for having skippable cutscenes.

Hey this thing dropped a health pick-up as it exploded, that's very thoughtful.

Okay, so my first job is to run around and blow up 11 of these anti-aircraft guns before they shoot down the rest of the team. But each of them takes two sets of two bombs to destroy it seems and I'm being continually harassed the whole time by seemingly infinite robots shooting little green bolts of light at me. There's no time limit though.

Hang on, if these are anti-aircraft guns then we must be on the outer hull of the spaceship surely? Maybe it's just so damn big that it has its own atmosphere.

Aha, the infinite robots are coming out of these generators on the wall. I just have drop a few bombs next to them while they're open, then run away, come back and drop another few bombs, and then their robot distribution days are over, permanently!

Man I really need to increase my bomb capacity. Everything's taking multiple runs to destroy.

Metal Gear!?!?!

At the end of the level I ran into the uber-anti-aircraft turret, who comes equipped with two beam lasers and a health bar and likes to slide right at me with an impenetrable energy shield on. But that suits me fine as I like to drop napalm infused bombs in his path and then detonate them as he comes over. As boss fights go... meh, he's not so bad.

Mission clear! Rank: D.

Yeah, well, I don't care much about grades in a game that doesn't let me replay levels from a level select screen, so n'yah!

The game's at least kind enough to let me save between missions. Plus I should probably sort out my E-Unit arrangement while I'm here.

This E-Unit customizer screen can be accessed at any time in gameplay to me redistribute the E-Chips I've collected by blowing up bits of scenery along the way. I can spend them to give myself more bombs, better lock-on range, or a shield, which the price increasing with each upgrade.

Fortunately they kindly allow me take chips back out again as well, so if I suddenly want to sacrifice my bomb capacity to add some shield strength I just have to open up the menu and move the points around.

This second level seems a lot like the first so far. Lots of dodging lasers, dropping bombs in the path of robots, and blowing open bits of scenery (like those boxes on the top right) for E-Chips and bomb chemicals; plus maybe some health if I'm very lucky.

The game's got kind of an arcade feel to it, but the level doesn't automatically scroll along a set path. The camera generally prefers to remain fixed at this angle, but I've got the freedom to wander around freely and explore every corridor and corner for more boxes to destroy.

Come on mate, it's too soon for another boss fight. Can't you come back in 10 minutes or so? On the first stage I got to play through a whole level first before being shoved into the Metal Gear face off; this time they've allowed me just one pitifully short hallway before the boss arena.

That guy in the background's got a nice lightsaber though.

Holy shit! Hey pal, I'm busy trying to kill your robot henchmen carrying the laser swords right now, so could you hang on a second and wait your turn?

He's not even really on the screen right now, though he does at least have a tiny aiming laser that appears before he fires. I've tried to get closer, but whenever I try to run up to him and lay bombs he just darts out of the way and you can imagine how fun it is trying to run up and lock onto someone who is already locking on to you with a purple death cannon.


I've signed my death warrant? Yes yes, I'm very concerned. Now fuck off.

Holy shit, I can't believe I just killed that guy! I had a tiny tiny fraction of my health bar left after that fight, it was brutal. At least now it'll surely reward me with a nice regular level full of boxes to crack open for the sweet sweet E-chips and health pick-ups within.

Crap, the next room is even worse! I have take down a giant laser turret while fighting off infinite robots simultaneously. Plus the big turret is defended by tiny turrets either side that spit out a spray of bullets when I get close.

Taking down the enemy generators along the walls got me a health pick-up, but these mini-turrets are giving me nothing but trouble. Every time I blow one up another one appears to replace it in seconds, even more deadly than the last. And I can't really help but blow them up seeing as they're right next to the turret I'm dropping bombs under.

Man, this is going to take some endurance. I probably made a mistake to play this in the middle of summer as this is not the kind of weather that encourages concentration and perseverance.

The turrets have upgraded to waves of homing bullets now? You've got to be shitting me!

Whoa, I just noticed that I've somehow miraculously got the main turret down to just a quarter of his health. I might actually be able to beat this guy!


And the sad piano music plays. Well, I gave it my best shot at least.

The game is thoughtful enough to give the player infinite continues and start them off back at the same boss fight they died in (with full health), so next time around I was able to blow it up and move on.


This game could really do with some twin stick aiming, as it's not much fun trying to point myself towards a mech and get close enough to turn my lock-on aiming cone from blue to orange, when it's armed with a gun as big as I am and currently shooting at me with purple bolts of light. Those are even worse than green bolts of light (probably)! It's especially frustrating when the mechs are often faster than me and I'm finding it a struggle to avoid being hit even when I'm not running at the bullets.

Then when I had finally managed to get my aiming cone to turn orange and my bomb launchers firmly locked on target, I instinctively double tapped jump and dodged out of lock on range. So now I have to get back in there and do it again, and this time maybe actually throw some bombs before I run away.

It doesn't help that the screen's zoomed in so close that I'm often fighting enemies I can't see, trying to predict where they'll be coming from and laying down bomb traps along the way to catch them when they appear on screen.

Agh dammit. Guess who's back again.

This time he came at the end of a level, so I was already worn out and wounded and he just wiped the floor with me. Of course he doesn't count as a real boss though, so using a continue put me right back at the start of the whole level again. Bastard.


THERE! How do you like a whole fucking screen full of paralysis bombs you speedy little mid-boss? Let's see you dodge out of my way then fire a purple laser from off-screen when you can't even move!

He's in there somewhere, I'm almost certain of it. 79% certain.

Oh it hurts does it? Well damn, I'm feeling a little guilty now. Why don't you come over here so I can put you out of your misery for good, instead of flying off this time?

And I think that's enough of the game for now.

So what did I think about Silent Bomber after playing it for a couple of hours? Well it's an old-school arcade-inspired overhead action game with a pretty original style of gameplay and a boss at the end of almost every level. If you were to compare it to a blend of Metal Gear Solid and Bomberman, you'd be almost 52% right!

It looks great for a PlayStation game and I had no camera or control issues. The voice acting ranges from not bad to absolutely hilariously terrible, but with this story that's not necessarily a downside and Jutah's a likeable enough protagonist. He's very deadpan and seems as annoyed by the crap characters as the player is.

All the pieces seem to be in place here for a good game and I should like this a lot more than I did, but I just got to the point where I was looking for excuses not to play it anymore. I found the levels enjoyable enough at first but I started to dread actually finishing them, possibly because I soon figured out that each one was going to end with me being locked in a room and shot at with purple lasers. I know this is probably just my own dislike of boss battles putting me off here, but I'm finding it hard to recommend a game I don't actually want to play.

I'll stick to my rules and hold off on giving it a gold star, but its a dumb subjective rating system anyway and you should probably just ignore me.

And so ends my Silent Bomber non-review. But if you'd like to leave a comment of your own about the game, my humble website etc, you're very welcome. The comment box even comes with a free captcha typing mini-game for you to play!


  1. You should try the shoot 'em up "Warning Forever". It's nothing but bosses, you'd love it!

    1. Somehow I suspect that this recommendation wasn't made with my best interests in mind...


Semi-Random Game Box