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Judgement Silversword Rebirth Edition

version: jp - year: 1990 - developer: m-kai - publisher: qute - format: wonderswan color. cartridge - condition: mint - rarity: very

The shield will often be life-saving so use it !


The end of level boss known as "The Judge" has many forms and will keep hunting you throughout the game


These 3 pictures show all of the backgrounds you can expect to see in JS. Normally you'll be flying against a black screen




Review - Judgement Silversword (JS) won the WonderWitch game development competition of 2001 (WWGP 2001) and eventually made it to production, although only sold in limited quantities through the Company's website. The game has been developed by talented programmers at Qute who probably happen to be hardcore shooter fans as well.

It features 30 stages packed with non-stop vertical shooting action. Normally, I am not very attracted by handheld gaming and especially in this case, I really had to go out of my way and get a SwanCrystal just for this game (and for the mediocre GA port). The SwanCrystal library is very lacking when it comes to action games and shooters were basically missing altogether. JS fills the gap and sets the bar really high for anything that might come in the future.

Graphically, JS is a triumph. Sprites are crisp, enemies are varied, and it is always very easy to see enemy bullets (given that you are playing the game near a good light source). The scrolling is very smooth and only in some rare occasions it is possible to spot a hint of slowdown or flickering but that doesn't hinder game-play. It is interesting to point out that backgrounds are almost absent. They do show up occasionally but most of the time, the game is set in deep space. It seems the programmers didn't want the player to get distracted because of the backgrounds but instead they wanted him to focus only on the relentless waves of alien ships.

The music and sound effects are nicely done and never get irritating and for a shooter, this is a definite plus.

Gameplay is kept simple and straight to the point. No fancy weapons or smart bombs. Just 2 types of weapons and a life-saving shield will be part of your arsenal. To survive the endless alien waves, it becomes fundamental to learn to use each weapon properly. Alien waves come in many forms and this will push you to change your playing style many times during the 30 levels that separate you from the last boss. At times, the game will feel like an evolved version of Galaga or Galaxian since enemy waves will show up in the typical pattern found in early'80s shooters. Some other times, you'll be overwhelmed by enemy bullets in pure "bullet hell" style. JS pays homage to the great masterpieces of the past fusing that kind of classic gameplay with the revisioned gameplay typical of the new generation of shooters.

Although the difficulty is high, JS is never frustrating because it incorporates the latest developments as far as options are concerned, much like in Mars Matrix. This means that the accumulation of points will grant you additional ships, continues etc and this should alleviate the difficulty a lot. Also, this system represents an incentive to play the game several times, in all of the difficulty levels because the score multiplier is higher as you move from Easy, to Normal and Hard.

After many attempts, I was finally able to beat the last boss which is probably one of the hardest yet coolest end-of-game boss I have ever seen! His attack patterns are varied and seem near to impossible to predict at first. But I went on the game's website and downloaded a movie of the last boss in which a series of tactics are revealed on how to face him. I tried my best and then I tried some more and some more and finally, I was able to kill the bastard once and for all (on easy mode!!).

To conclude, JS probably represents the pinnacle of handheld "shmups". It takes the best of classic '80s seminal shooters gameplay and unites it with modern gameplay elements creating a unique hardcore gaming experience that only a selected few will really appreciate and enjoy. It is a tribute to the lost Era of great 2D shooters brought to the gamers community by people who understand the real essence of what a 2D shooter is all about. And as such, it deserves to be hunt down with any means at your disposal!

Note: I thought about it for some time now and after finishing this game, I decided to increase the final score simply because Judgement Silversword is a timeless masterpiece with gameplay that far exceeds and eclipses anything else on the market. Yes, it is that good.

Bottom line: If you live by the rule of shmups, you should play this, you will not regret it. 10/10










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