|Platform(s)||Sega Saturn, PlayStation|
Silhouette Mirage[a] is a 2D action side-scrolling video game developed by Treasure and released in 1997. The game's primary mechanic is the two opposing attributes, "Silhouette" and "Mirage" and the way they are able to cause damage to each other. Shyna features as the female protagonist who is able to switch between these attributes at will by facing either left or right on-screen. Secondary mechanics in the form of various melee moves are used to get enemies onto the correct side of the screen so that when Shyna is facing them, she is able to use the correct, opposing attribute to damage them.
It was first published by ESP for the Sega Saturn in 1997 in Japan. It was later ported to the PlayStation in 1998. In 2000, Working Designs translated, made significant alterations to, and published the game for the PlayStation in North America. The English-language PlayStation release by Working Designs was criticised due to the alterations being detrimental to gameplay, making it less frantic and more difficult, thereby reducing the natural flow seen in the original. However, despite these criticisms, the PlayStation release received better review scores than the Saturn release.
Silhouette Mirage is an action side-scroller and features seven levels presented in a 2D view. The game's major mechanic is based around the concept of two opposing attributes, "Silhouette" and "Mirage". Enemies are either "Silhouette", which can only be destroyed using "Mirage" attacks or "Mirage" which can only be destroyed using "Silhouette" attacks". The protagonist Shyna automatically changes between these different forms when facing in a certain direction. When facing right she turns red and uses "Mirage" attacks and when facing left she turns blue and uses "Silhouette" attacks. Both Shyna and enemies have health, which is reduced by being hit with the opposite attribute attack, and "spirit" which is reduced by being hit with the same attribute attack. Spirit determines how much damage a weapon does. Since getting on the correct side of an enemy is an integral part of gameplay, Shyna is capable of grappling, throwing and sliding, all of which can be used to get an enemy on the correct side so they can be damaged with the corresponding (opposite) attribute attack. These melee attacks do not damage enemies. Some bosses are able to switch between "Silhouette" and "Mirage".
Shyna also has the ability to triple jump, crawl and dash. Crawling and dashing allows the player to run up walls and along ceilings which acts as both an evasive and defensive technique and also as a means to reach hidden or seemingly unreachable areas. Shyna is also armed with a reflector that allows her to bounce enemy projectiles back at them. Additional weapons/magic known as "parasites", such as "Surosa" (single shots), "Cavitas" (homing blasts) and "Grattoni" (a powerful laser) can be purchased with coins from the Hare Wares vendor at certain points in the game. A small amount of coins are collected by killing enemies, however more coins can be obtained by mugging them using a technique called "Cash Bash". In addition to being able to save progress, the game also uses a system of continues which was more common in arcade games or games from previous generations. The player only has a single life, but can continue up to nine times.
The game's difficulty was increased in the North American version, with weapon prices being increased, enemies causing more damage, and the player's spirit energy reducing as they use weapons. Due to this new spirit reduction feature, when Shyna reduces an enemy's spirit, she now also absorbs this spirit. Most of the initial options are also locked in this version, and can only be modified by completing the game's five paths, upon which a special bonus feature is also unlocked.
The game is set on Earth in the year "2XXX" after a system known as Edo has catastrophically failed and caused the world's inhabitants to be genetically mutated into beings known as either "Silhouette" or "Mirage". The protagonist Shyna Nera Shyna is a creation that is activated by the computer system Gehena. Shyna's purpose is to track down and repair Edo to undo the damage that has been done and unite the two opposed types of beings that were created. Shyna learns that Edo experimented on and created a being called Armageddon who was both Silhouette and Mirage. Due to the polar nature of these attributes, Armageddon was split into two individual entities known as Medigo and Hal, respectively the Silhouette and Mirage leaders. Those that display both of the attributes are known as Proteans, and in addition to Armageddon, Shyna and Zohar are also such beings. Shyna battles through Silhouette and Mirage creatures, including Medigo, Hal and Zohar. She is eventually able to repair and reboot Edo. Gehena then notifies Shyna that all Silhouette and Mirage lifeforms will be located, identified, processed and returned to their original selves. Gehena estimates that this process will take 932,000 hours to complete.
Silhouette Mirage was developed by Treasure. According to director Masaki Ukyo, the original concept was to incorporate the idea of two different attributes to make a unique action game, and that other concepts such as grabbing, throwing and "Cash Bash" were added later in development simply because "we got all these cool ideas and wanted to add them". The gameplay mechanic of the player's power dropping if the spirit gauge falls was added near the end of development, and was based on a system Treasure used in Guardian Heroes (1996). The character Shyna originally had a more typical fantasy witch design, but producer Koichi Kimura did not feel comfortable with fantasy settings, so gave the setting and character a futuristic design. He decided to use chibi character designs because he was not skilled at drawing realistic characters.
The game was ported to the PlayStation as Silhouette Mirage: Reprogrammed Hope in Japan on July 23, 1998. Treasure handled the port completely in house with a small team, including the difficult adaption of the 2D view into the PlayStation format. The soundtrack was trimmed with the training music being replaced and a few minor background elements were simplified or removed. The Reaper and Geluve bosses are exclusive to the PlayStation version. The game's story was also adjusted to accommodate these new characters, resulting in some more dialogue, a new battleground, and another ending. This version was released as a PS one Classic on the Japanese PlayStation Network on August 25, 2010.
American publisher Working Designs localized the PlayStation version for North America and made further alterations. They increased the gameplay difficulty, and added vibration support and memory card selection. Working Designs discovered that the game used virtual controllers to control enemy bosses, and took advantage of this to make Zohar a fully playable character during the credits. Cutscenes were enhanced to run at a slightly higher resolution. There are also secrets such as a debug mode, more options, and "Super Core Fighter 2", a two player mini-game battle between Shyna and Zohar. Also, the Hare Wares sprites were censored/edited. His cigarette was replaced with a gloved hand, and the burning cross was replaced with a dragon. A preview video for Lunar 2: Eternal Blue, another game localized by Working Designs, was also added to the game. Some character and location names that reference the Bible were also changed.
Edge praised the game as being a "frantic, polished battle" and commented on the novel mechanics of the game, however they ultimately summarised that its major flaw was that it "degenerates into mindless button bashing". The resulting score was 6/10.
Next Generation noted that the release of Silhouette Mirage showcased that Treasure was continuing to innovate within the bounds of an outdated video game genre. They called the game a success but also noted that Treasure's "tendency towards too much" and the unbalanced power-ups were substantial shortcomings.
In retrospect, producer Kimura questioned some of his gameplay decisions that potentially resulted in the view that the game was too complex or overwhelming, especially how he introduced players to the mechanics of the game - "I unloaded all the details of the gameplay system (reflecting shots, money, etc.) on the player all at once, right at the beginning... I wonder if that was my mistake". He admitted that "The world was not so kind to Silhouette Mirage" because "For the people whom the system didn't really click with, this was a perplexing game".
IGN gave the game a very favourable 8.9/10 praising "revolutionary new play mechanics and an insane amount of depth". The broken down ratings for presentation, sound, gameplay and lasting appeal were all 9 or higher, with only graphics being given a 7, but with the note that "it does push the 2D power of the PS to the max".
GameSpot's review concluded that the game was poor with a rating of 4.6 out of 10. The review focused on the differences between the Saturn release, mentioning the "inflated weapon cost" and the mechanic involving draining enemies spirit which they stated was "the biggest flaw in the game". They even go as far to recommend importing the original Saturn release because "a perfectly fun game is now an unrewarding chore overwrought with tedium".
As with the review from GameSpot, many reviewers made comparisons to the original Saturn version, often with a negative view of the changes made for the English-language release on PlayStation.
Treasure re-used the dual attribute damage mechanic of Silhouette Mirage in their shoot 'em up game Ikaruga (2001). In Ikaruga, the concept of attributes is known as polarity which manifests as the player's ship being either black or white. Similarly with Silhouette Mirage, damage can only be done to the player or enemies by projectiles of the opposite attribute. While Shyna changes attributes by facing in different directions, the ship in Ikaruga changes attributes with a button press.
- Shiruetto Mirāju (シルエットミラージュ) in Japan
- "Silhouette Mirage sur Saturn". Jeuxvideo.com (in French). Retrieved 2019-07-03.
- Staff, I. G. N. (2000-01-05). "Silhouette Mirage Ships". IGN. Retrieved 2019-07-01.
- "シルエットミラージュ 〜リプログラムド ホープ〜 (PS) - ファミ通.com". www.famitsu.com. Retrieved 2019-07-03.
- Gamers' Republic Issue 16. p. 15.
- Sega Saturn Magazine - Issue 25 (1997-11)(EMAP Images)(GB). November 1997. p. 29.
- Peter Bartholow (January 21, 2000). "Silhouette Mirage Review (PS)". GameSpot. CBS Interactive. Retrieved October 7, 2015.
- Orlando, Greg (February 2000). Next Gen Magazine Lifecycle 2 Volume 2. p. 97.
- Michael Motoda (1997). "Silhouette Mirage (Sat)". Dave's Sega Saturn & PC Games Page. Archived from the original on February 10, 1998. Retrieved June 15, 2016.
- Matthew Mercer (February 4, 2000). "Silhouette Mirage (PS)". GameSpy. Archived from the original on June 2, 2002. Retrieved June 15, 2016.
- "Silhouette Mirage – Hardcore Gaming 101". Retrieved 2019-06-23.
- David Zdyrko (January 11, 2000). "Silhouette Mirage (PS)". IGN. Retrieved June 15, 2016.
- Gamefan Volume 5 Issue 11 November 1997. 1997-11-01. p. 159.
- Official US PlayStation Magazine - Volume 3 Issue 1 (1999-10)(Ziff Davis)(US). October 1999. p. 62.
- Treasure (2000-01-05). Silhouette Mirage. PlayStation. Working Designs. Scene: Ending 1 Restoration Ending.
I was a guinea pig for the New Humanity of the former world, forced to activate both Silhouette and Mirage attributes within my body.[…] The solution was to split my body in two. Megido and Hal each became complete, living beings… born of me.
- "shmuplations.com Silhouette Mirage Interviews". shmuplations.com. Retrieved 2019-06-23.
- Gamers Republic - No. 05 (1998-10)(Millennum Publications)(US). October 1998. p. 103.
- Sega Saturn Magazine - Issue 34 (1998-08)(EMAP Images)(GB). August 1998. p. 25.
- "Test du jeu Silhouette Mirage sur PS1". Jeuxvideo.com (in French). Retrieved 2019-06-22.
- "Silhouette Mirage - Reprogrammed Hope | Japanese PlayStation Official Site". www.jp.playstation.com. Retrieved 2019-07-03.
- Derek Williams. "Silhouette Mirage (PS) - Review". AllGame. Archived from the original on November 17, 2014. Retrieved June 15, 2016.
- Edge staff (December 25, 1997). "Silhouette Mirage (Sat)". Edge (53).
- EGM staff (February 2000). "Silhouette Mirage (PS)". Electronic Gaming Monthly.
- "Silhouette Mirage (PS)". Game Informer (82). February 2000.
- "Silhouette Mirage". Official U.S. PlayStation Magazine. February 2000.
- "Review: Silhouette Mirage". PSM. February 2000.
- "Silhouette Mirage for PlayStation Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved June 15, 2016.
- "Finals". Next Generation. No. 37. Imagine Media. January 1998. p. 155.
- Fahey, Rob (2007-01-01). "Silhouette Mirage". Eurogamer. Retrieved 2019-06-23.
- Ikaruga GameCube Review - IGN, retrieved 2019-07-03