Developers: Treasure (Original), Live Wire (Switch)
Radiant Silvergun is one of those legendary games you always hear about, but not a lot of people have played. It's probably better known for being expensive than it is for being a good game. It was a Saturn exclusive and it only came out in Japan, so that's understandable. It's by Treasure, makers of Sin & Punishment, Gunstar Heroes, and Ikaruga. They were always known for great action games, but this was their first shoot 'em up. It plays very differently from Ikaruga, but I see how one led to the other. While Ikaruga is about simple ideas inspired by traditional shoot 'em up mechanics, Radiant Silvergun is about complexity, breaking genre conventions, and a heavy dose of RPG elements.
Radiant Silvergun is unlike any shooter I've ever played. There's no Gradius style upgrade system, you don't get screen clearing bombs, and it's not about shooting everything in sight. In some ways, this game is as complex as learning how to play a fighting game. I actually watched YouTube videos on how to play it.
What can I say about the graphics? This is a 3D Saturn game. It looks rough even by 1997 standards. The polygon models are very basic, there's no antialiasing, and the textures are so pixelated it almost looks like a 2D game. The framerate looks like it's solid 60fps, at least. There are some filters you can turn on to smooth out the pixelation, but I don't think they look good. There is one option to use alpha channels for transparencies instead of dithering and that looks OK.
Like with Castlevania Rondo of Blood, Seiken Densetsu 3, Monster World IV, and so on, sometimes the reputation of these old import-only games takes on a life of its own and they become almost mythical. There's no way they can live up to the hype. Radiant Silvergun is a great game, though. It's not my favorite Treasure game, but it's definitely up there. I love the 3 button controls, the RPG elements are something different, and the boss designs are awesome. The game is definitely not for everyone, though. I think most people will die within a few minutes and give up on it. It really pushed the limits of my reflexes. I don't think I'll ever beat the story on anything higher than normal. The patterns are just too difficult, and there are way too many bullets for me to dodge.