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Long read: The beauty and drama of video games and their clouds

"It's a little bit hard to work out without knowing the altitude of that dragon..."

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Silhouette Mirage

Silhouette Mirage (1999)

  • Gamepage
  • Developer: Treasure
  • Publisher: ESP / Working Designs

No cult favourites list would be complete without a game from the masters of insane, hyperactive, ADD-afflicted action, Treasure. While the late nineties for the Japanese developer were largely defined by titles like the Saturn's much-loved Radiant Silvergun (and later, the N64's awesome Sin And Punishment), the PlayStation received plenty of love as well - most notably in the form of Silhouette Mirage. Aside from having yet another brilliant Japlish name, Silhouette Mirage was one of the best side-scrolling action titles of the era - or, indeed, ever.

The futuristic plot, littered as it was with omniscient AIs, genetic meddling gone wrong and more confused biblical references than you could shake an enormous stick at, was little more than nonsense. However, it fulfilled its purpose - namely creating a dual-element system which called for your character, a diminutive but powerful witch called Synna, to flick elemental sides during combat. You took damage from the opposing element, but absorbed mana from your own element. If that sounds familiar, it's because it worked so well that Treasure went on to base their beautiful Dreamcast title, Ikaruga, entirely on this concept.

Unsurprisingly, the whole game was in 2D, which means that for all intents and purposes, it hasn't aged a jot. Multiple endings on a branching storyline which radically changed the later levels of the game depending on your earlier actions meant that there was also tons of content to explore - assuming, of course, that you could get that far, since the game was fiendishly difficult in parts. It wouldn't be a Treasure game without a little tooth-grinding, though.