Journey to Silius
System: NES Publisher: Sunsoft Developer: Sunsoft
Genre: Action Type: Sidescrolling Platform/Shooter Circa: 1990
Apocalypse, now!...Jay begins his quest to take down terroristic robots

It seems that every time I find something about Journey to Silius, it's usually followed by a few sentences likening it to one of the worst games of all time. I have played and beaten it several times, and I certainly do not think it is all that bad. Journey to Silius was originally supposed to be based on the movie, The Terminator, but for some reason unknown to me, Sunsoft lost the license. It's still a pretty decent action game based on one man's quest to avenge the death of his father in a futuristic world.
Most Sunsoft games that I've played on the NES have had really excellent graphics, and Journey to Silius is no exception. The game's backgrounds are nothing short of beautiful. They portray the environment of a bleak, apocalyptic future with vibrant colors and detail. The very first level caught my eye right away. As you move through the ruins of the destroyed space colony, you'll see the devastated buildings in the background, as well as ominous clouds that loom overhead. As you progress further along the rooftops, you'll notice the foreground scenery gives you a closer look at the destruction. The animation of Jay's running and jumping is very good. Jay, himself, looks a little poorly drawn, especially his hair and the shape of his head. Moving onto level 2, you end up in an underground tunnel, which is also very strongly detailed, right down to the little glowing red lights that line the walls. In later levels, you'll end up in even more exotic places, such as inside a spaceship and fortress. Most of them look very high-tech. The bosses in this game look incredible! They are all very huge, colorful, and well-detailed. The normal enemies look okay, but almost all of them are the exact same color. They're usually either white or gray, and flash pink when shot. This is something that seems to happen with Sunsoft's NES games as it was like that in Blaster Master, too.
Jay goes underground for Level 2...Elevator going up!
SOUND: 10/10
If you've heard anything about Journey to Silius anywhere, chances are you've probably heard it has a good soundtrack. To say that would be an understatement. This game has some of the one of the best videogame soundtracks I've ever heard, even when compared to more modern consoles. The music is, for the most part, hard-driving, futuristic rock. The one exception is Level 2, which has a slower-paced melody that is very moody. The songs can really convey the feeling of being alone in an apocalyptic world. The music in the opening story is ominous and foreboding, and sets the tone of the game. The tunes are very long, too. I can sometimes get over halfway through a level before the music even starts to repeat. The boss theme is not quite as good as the rest of the music, but it's okay, and everything else is more than enough to make up for any shortcomings there. The sound effects are all the same exact sound effects that were used in Blaster Master. They're not bad, but I was paying more attention to the music, anyway.
CONTROL: 7.5/10
The play control of JtS is pretty solid, but not as good as it could've been. There's no problem with running left and right and ducking. It's nice to be able to duck and fire right away, and Jay runs at a very brisk pace. But it's Jay's jumping control that can be a bit frustrating. He seems to "float" a bit when jumping, which means that he'll sometimes jump too far or not far enough, and there's not much you can do to correct it. This can be especially annoying in tight situations against bosses. You can only shoot straight ahead, but this is not really a bad thing, since you'll get weapons later on that give a broader reach, like a 3-way shot and homing missiles.
They will pay the price for the death of my father!...Big Chopper! Big, big Chopper!
Journey to Silius starts out with gorgeous cut-scenes that tell the story of how terrorists blew up a space colony, killing Jay's father. At first, everyone thought it was an accident, but Jay discovers a floppy disk left behind by his dad. The disk reveals that terrorists had been plotting against the construction of the space colony. Jay decides to bring the terrorists to justice, and avenge his father's death. This is a rather decent plotline, but once the opening cinema ends, that's the last you hear of it. As Jay sets out on his journey, he fights lots of robot enemies, but he never comes face-to-face with any terrorists. The ending cinema does nothing to wrap up the story. It's apparent that this plot was just tacked on to distinguish this game from its original "Terminator" roots. While its story is never drawn out, Silius is still enveloped in a futuristic, apocalyptic atmosphere that it pulls off rather nicely.
Journey to Silius is a difficult game that provides a decent challenge, but it's not impossible. The levels are very long, and it can be difficult getting through an entire stage and still have enough energy left at the end to beat the boss. You'll have to memorize enemy patterns and locations, and find the best way of dealing with them. You will gain several different kinds of weapons to help in your fight. Only the handgun doesn't use up ammo, but it's the most basic weapon. The more powerful weapons use up ammo, which you can replenish by picking up blue capsules left behind by some defeated enemies. Pink capsules refill your life meter, but they are very rare. There's a pretty decent variety of enemies. Some of them leap at you, some shoot at you, some pop up from the floor, and others try to mow you down. There's also a mini-boss at the end of every level that you must defeat to earn a better weapon. You go right from fighting the mini-boss to facing the big boss, and they are really tough! I'll always remember how that Giant Exodus Spaceship was one of the hardest bosses I've ever faced and actually beaten! And to keep things interesting, the last level has an automatic scroll. Certainly this game is not short on challenge, but unfortunately, some of it has more to do with the offbeat jumping control than actual level design.
FUN: 7/10
Despite its flaws, I think that Journey to Silius is a fun game to play and master. It has extremely fast shooting action and long stages that are challenging. While it may feel like a Contra or Mega Man clone, Silius has a unique environment and original soundtrack, as well as some really tough boss fights that separate it from the crowd. However, the gameplay, at times, can feel a little shallow. Even though the challenge is great, the gameplay rarely stretches itself above anything besides "run, jump, shoot", except in the last level where there's an automatic scrolll. One thing that is somewhat aggravating is the continue system. When you lose a life, you can usually restart from a "checkpoint" in the level, depending on how far you got. But if you lose all your lives and continue, you have to start from the beginning of the stage, and as I've mentioned before, the levels are very long. Continues are limited, too. It's not something I really want to complain too much about, though, since it prevents you from beating the game too quickly.
Notice those cute little pictures on the walls......Now THIS is a boss!

Journey to Silius is an overall above-average sidescrolling shooter with some of the best graphics and sound on the NES and a decent challenge level. If you're into collecting NES games, then I highly recommend picking it up.
OVERALL SCORE (not an average): 7.5/10



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