Silent Scope (サイレントスコープ)

Released around the same time as colossal Dreamcast releases such as Shenmue and Jet Set Radio you would image that Konami's arcade sniper-em up had its work cut out for it, especially considering that the real attraction of the arcade game  (a bloody big sniper rifle bolted on to the cabinet) was obviously not packed in with this home release; Konami aren't Sega you know!

The premise of the game is simple, you move a cross-hair target around a fixed screen shooting whatever terrorists/kidnappers lie in in your wake. The real appeal comes in the tense appeal of being a sniper in the shadows, picking off people from miles away as they scurry to find the direction of your shots. It's a calmer, more considered approach which feels like something of a novelty for shooters, especially modern-day affairs which have you scurrying around guns blazing.

That's not to say that this is a tepid affair. Due to the game's arcade nature things are kept interesting by the challenging time limit which you have to meet to proceed to the next stage. Upon completing a stage you receive the option of challenging one of three bosses each in a different scenario. These scenarios make a change from the basic level structure of shooting and moving. For example, at the end of the first stage you have the choice of shooting down a harrier jet, taking out a moving truck on a highway or shooting one of the bad guys who is carrying the presidents daughter through a crowded American football stadium.

 The game is a faithful carry-over of Konami's rather successful Silent Scope arcade game, which actually went on to form a couple of sequels. 

There are 8 stages to complete, which will take a fair bit of practice to complete, especially if you want to experience each of the game's awesome boss battles, and the Dreamcast version also includes a couple of extras such as a training mode and and indoor and outdoor shooting range which have their own scenarios. However, it's not enough to really warrant multiple plays and the real thrill comes in getting to the end of the game and recording your high-score. The story is typical arcade trash, the president/president's daughter/wife/mum/granny/pet goldfish has been kidnapped by group of rocket-wielding terrorists and it's up to you to get them back. Yeah, like I said pretty dyer, but what did you want Shakespeare?

The game controls surprisingly well

I remember at the time of the game's release wondering how Konami would be able to anyway replicate the thrill of the arcade game which had you looking through the sight of a rifile to get a close up view of the enemy but they did.  During the game your cross-hair is automatically set on the screen and you use the  L trigger of the controller to change in and out of the zoom mode so you can move quickly around the screen. It works well, if a little cumbersome and with a bit of practice you’ll find that picking off your targets can be easy enough especially if you go for head-shots which not not only awards you a sure-fire kill, but it also awards you big points bonuses. The game is also compatible with the mouse although it makes the game slightly too easy

Lives can be gained by "catching" women in your sight 

The visuals look great without being spectacular. It's not quite up there with later shooters such as Confidential Mission, but still looks sharp, especially through VGA so you wont be mistaking hostages for terrorists. There are some nice audio touches in the game, such as if you shoot too rapidly, the game will tell you to "Calm down" or get angry at you if you shoot a civilian.

Silent Scope is one of those classic arcade games that offer fun in short bursts. While there definitely is room for improvement  it is a decent arcade translation which offers an experience unavailable elsewhere. Due to the games short length, I'm sure this would have been one to rent back in the day but as it can be picked up for a quarter of the price these days, then it is a game any fan of arcade shoot-em ups should have in their collection.