Feb 22 2012
Journey to Silius (NES)
Anyone here still remember Sunsoft? They were responsible for some great games on the NES, and one of the few developers that could take a movie license and create a great game around it, such as the NES incarnations of Batman and Gremlins 2. And if they hadn't have had the Terminator license yanked from them, there would have also been an awesome Terminator NES game instead of the abortion that LJN created. Nintendo Power even previewed this game as the licensed Terminator version in Nintendo Power (Vol. 7): p. 86.

However, Sunsoft went ahead and released their game based off The Terminator after making some minor changes to avoid copyright infringement. Known over in Japan as Raf World, here in the States this game is the sorely overlooked Journey to Silius.

The story has been changed a bit, and strangely doesn't really match the graphics in the game, likely due to what this game was supposed to be originally. From Wikipedia:
In the year 0373 of the new space age calendar, overpopulation of Earth has led to increased demand for emigration to space colonies. Jay McCray, the son of a scientist responsible for development of space colony #428 in the Silius Solar System (SSS), prepares to move there in order to follow in his father's footsteps. However, the space station is obliterated in an explosion, killing the entire research team and destroying all data onboard.

In his father's home, Jay discovers a floppy disk containing not only the complete SSS colony plans but a personal message from his father asking that he complete the projects should terrorists succeed in destroying the colony. To protect the colony plans and to avenge his father's death, Jay sets out to fight the terrorists responsible for the space colony's destruction.

But screw that, playing this as a Terminator game is more fun. And just look at this screenshot:

Yea, that looks like the future ruins from the Terminator movies a lot more than a terrorist base. If thats not enough proof for you, just check out this next screenshot:

If thats not a T-101 Endoskeleton in NES form than I don't know what is. So just pretend you are playing as Kyle Reese from the first movie, fighting your way to a time portal to take you to save John Connor. Its much better that way.

The music in this game is phenominal. Just click here and listen while you are reading this review. Remember how awesome that NES Batman soundtrack was? Well, Sunsoft obviously had more where that came from, cause these tracks blow even the Batman soundtrack out of the water. This is actually music you could headbang to. I think it's even better than the music in the NES Mega Man games. The only thing holding the music back is the lack of tracks, as there is only a few in the entire game. But what is there is wonderful.

But whats a story and a soundtrack without gameplay? Journey to Silius delivers here in spades as well. Its a shooter like Contra, except Sunsoft was nice enough to give you a health bar. Thats not saying this game is easy though, as there are plenty of enemies and pits to keep you busy, whittling away at that life meter until one gets a lucky shot and takes you out. But you have some good firepower available. Your initial weapon has unlimited ammo, but the guns you find later have limited ammo. With skill, anything can be beaten with that first gun, but its best to hold your larger caliber weapons for when you really need them.

Also, you don't have full control of your jumps in games such as Super Mario Brothers. Instead, your jumps have inertia, giving it a slightly more realistic feel. Just be ready when you jump, as there's a limited amount of adjusting you can do once you are in mid-air. I like this more realistic approach in a game such as this though, and feel it fits in a lot better than the Mario-style jumping.

Also, this isn't a game you are going to plow through the first time around. I mentioned it is challenging, but it also doesn't allow you to continue forever. You start with 3 lives and 3 continues. Use them all up, and its back to the beginning. The game gives you a good challenge, but its also a fair challenge. You get enough lives and continues to make up for a few mistakes, and now so many that you can plow through with no problem.

As you've seen from the screenshots, the graphics are really good for an NES game. Their only falling is that it seems the color green stands out a lot. It doesn't detract much from the game though, especially when you are immersed in the gameplay. And the boss sprites are huge by NES standards as well.

Journey to Silius is a fantastic game that should have kept its license, but Sunsoft persevered and released it anyway as a great title thats an instant, if not overlooked, classic. I highly recommend you either load up your favorite emulator to give it a try. Its almost criminal that this game isn't available on Virtual Console yet, but with Sunsoft releasing Blaster Master on it, there is still hope. Or if you prefer the original hardware, the game can usually be had from 10 to 15 US dollars, which is a steal for the quality of title this is.


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