Ahoy me hearties! It's time to set sail for a treasure seeking voyage on the seven seas, so grab a tankard of grog or another rum-based beverage and prepare to swash some buckles, or buckle some swashes, or something. Yarr! It's time to play Captain Silver, a piratey adventure on ye olde Sega Master System.
|Title Screen of Captain Silver for the Sega Master System (PAL version)|
The arcade version of Captain Silver was a slash-em-up produced by Data East. It didn't really make it out of Japan, thus sparing most of the world from its horrors. Aye, it was a frustratingly unfair pile of scurveyed bilge rats. Your character, whose name is probably Jim, Jack or John, would last ten seconds before dying when coming into contact with a foe. Unbelievably, despite its general crappiness, Captain Silver was ported to both Nintendo's Famicom and Sega's Master System. It seems that even Nintendo weren't too concerned about letting this game slip through their monopolistic mitts and allowed it to appear on a competitor's machine - quite a rarity in those days. The Famicom version, which didn't really resemble the arcade game at all, still managed to faithfully recreate the arcade original's shitness, so could actually be described as an accurate port in that respect. The Master System port though, again a very different game to the arcade version, and reprogrammed by Sega themselves, is surprisingly good. And it is that version to be reviewed today, which is handy as that's the only version that I've played. Well, I did give the arcade version a go, but gave up after two minutes, by which time I'd got through about 50 lives. This review of Captain Silver is the first in a feature in which I review old games that I've never played before, so, despite it being over 20 years old, it's new to me!
Captain Silver on the Master System opens with a title screen featuring the game's name (always handy), and a scary looking skull and crossbones with a glowing green eye. After staring at this for a few seconds (not too long though - the green eye apparently has hypnotic powers), a demo of the game begins. There are no options in sight, so jumping into the game is as simple as pressing one of the two buttons on the control pad.
|Captain Silver's treasure, hidden in a tree|
|Our hero and a Cheshire Cat|
|The Pied Piper prances around level one|
|Young JimJohnJack finds time to go shopping|
|Inside the shop. A bit like Tesco, isn't it?|
Graphically, the game is quite impressive for the Master System. Levels are colourful and clear, with large bold sprites. The system copes with a relatively large number of enemies on screen at the same time, with no sign of slowdown and not much flicker, with the exception of some moving platform clouds on the last level. Soundwise, the game features jaunty piratey tunes which complement the game well and don't get too annoying. Well, maybe just a little, but that'll be down to the fact that getting through the first level takes a bit of practice, so you'll have to listen to the first level's tune over and over again. And, once you've completed it, you'll start the second level, only to find it uses the same tune! Fortunately the rest have different tunes. Not too sure why they couldn't have mixed up the order of the tunes a little bit.
|Mutant pumpkins and Bungle make appearances in this game|
One thing worth adding, which has already been touched upon, is that if you are intending on playing this game, you need to play the European/Canadian/PAL version. The Master System had a tough time in America, and it's no surprise to see why when quality games like this were butchered for the US market. Whereas the PAL version contains 6 levels, the American NTSC version contains 4. Also, a number of enemies were removed for the American version, and their attacks were simplified, making those that were left in easier to combat. For instance, the Cheshire Cats pounce slower and the pirates shooting at you don't tend to bother, unless you decide to stand in front of them for a few seconds. Even the American ending is a cut down version of the European ending. This "dumbing down" was apparently done because the game, which originally fitted on a 2 megabit cartridge for PAL markets, had to be cut down in size to fit onto a 1 megabit cartridge for NTSC territories, so several elements of it, including a third of the entire game, were removed. I still think it's for artistic reasons though. You can tell which version you're playing from the game's title screen. The PAL version is copyrighted 1988 whereas the NTSC version is 1989. Keep to 1988 and you'll be fine.
|This witch is one of a number of missing enemies in the NTSC version of Captain Silver|
So, all in all, Captain Silver is a fine little Master System game. Despite a few strange design decisions, such as level two repeating the same music as level one, and some of the enemies seeming a little out of place (although that's largely due to them featuring in the arcade original), the game feels professionally programmed and polished. Some say that you can't polish a turd, and Sega were given a real turd of a game to port to their magnificent Master System. Not only did they polish it, they left it quite shiny and gleeming. Once you've got some early frustrations out of your system, Captain Silver is playable, fun and strangely addictive. The important question to answer though is, if it was now 1988, would I be prepared to spend £25 on it? Quite possibly, yes. There is a certain amount of satisfaction in completing the game, and it's something that doesn't take too long to do once you're used to it. This is both a good and a bad thing. There isn't really any incentive to better your previous score, as it gets depleted quite heavily when purchasing power-ups, but the game has an odd way of drawing you back to it, largely owing to the fact it provides a bout of fast-paced fun and that you know that you're not going to have to give up hours of your time to get anywhere in it. It gets the grand old score of 7.5 out of 10 and the Classic Gaming blog rate-o-meter.
Here are some other screenshots from the game:
|Level 2: A seagull and a couple of pirates. Things are beginning to get tough for our hero. How will he get out of this pickle?|
|Level Two: This mean looking nastie throws knives at you. Play the US version and he isn't there!|
|Level Two's boss resembles somebody familar. He's the easiest boss in the game to beat.|
|Level Three: JimJohnJack's boat isn't the biggest on the Seven Seas, but it gets him around. Somehow|
|A one-eyed creature with man boobs guards the end of Level Three|
|Level Four: The skeletons from Golden Axe make a special guest appearance here.|
|Level Four: Young Jim stops to examine a nudey statue. Perv.|
|The boss on Level Four is also easy to beat. Once defeated, his head comes off. The rest of him just stands there.|
|Level Five: On a tropical island, an arrow-throwing native guards the cococuts.|
|Level Five: As water is fatal to Jim, he has to step on turtles to cross it.|
|Level Six: Just a couple of pansies.|
|Level Six: Finally, the encounter with Captain Silver that we've been waiting for. He fires fire arrows. And it looks like one is heading right for Jim.|
|Part of the ending. The US ending features the same story, but without pictures and any background at all.|