#570 – Silver Surfer

Not as bad as the Internet proclaims.
He’s all chocolate underneath.
Invading the local mall for a quick bite!


PUBLISHER: Arcadia Systems

DEVELOPER: Software Creations

GENRE: Shoot-em-up

RELEASE DATE: November 1990

Silver Surfer is a licensed shoot-em-up with a bad reputation. The Angry Video Game Nerd famously disparaged it in one of his earliest videos. It was called the #1 Hardest Video Game of All Time by (I disagree). Ask any retro gamer who has extensive NES experience what he thinks of Silver Surfer, and watch as they imitate the picture below:

Silver Surfer isn’t just challenging: it’s unfair. If you get hit once, you’re dead. If you accidentally touch a wall or some other barrier (that may or may not resemble a barrier), the Surfer acts like he just got punched in the gonads, and falls off his board to his death. From a genre perspective, one hit kills are fairly standard in almost all shoot-em-ups. Indeed, the difficulty behind shoot-em-ups lies in learning how to maneuver around certain death at ridiculous speeds, whilst shooting everything in sight. This describes Silver Surfer to a tee. But since the main character is the Silver Surfer and not just a vulnerable ship, shouldn’t he be a tad stronger? If not a life bar, then a free hit if he bumps into a barrier. Should you punish yourself in sticking with the game, you will die hundreds of times, without exaggeration.

The statue’s face made me laugh out loud.

Here’s the crazy part: if you can stay alive long enough to upgrade your weapons, Silver Surfer becomes playable, and even, dare I write it, enjoyable. Gather enough floating ‘F’s and the Surfer’s firepower (including the rotating ball underneath his surfboard) will become powerful enough to take down the hordes of never-ending crap the game hoists upon you. Silver Surfer becomes fast-paced and engaging, with hypnotic music to drive you on… until you die again and lose whatever power-ups you may have gained. Many people will become aggravated long before they reach this point, however, and just turn the game off. I don’t blame them, though I do feel that, beneath the cheap hit detection and pathetic rendering of the Silver Surfer character, lies what could have been a solid shoot-em-up. Silver Surfer isn’t as difficult or as bad of a game as many make it out to be, but it certainly wastes its potential with poor game design.


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14 replies on “#570 – Silver Surfer”

I remember renting this and not getting very far as a youngster. I’ll have to try it again. Great review but I don’t think there’s a need to mention or link to that angry nerd garbage. Could care less what he said about it(I’m guessing it involved profanity and unfunny ranting).

@ FieryReign: how many ‘C’-rated shmups are there on the NES? Quite a few. Sometimes a game’s only possible legacy is that of being notorious for something, and difficulty isn’t the worst credential (although “unfair” possibly is). That’s why citing AVG Nerd’s review of Silver Surfer is in context. Although it doesn’t take much to get his goose, Nerd has the ability to pull a game like Silver Surfer out of complete obscurity into the ranks of at least being remembered for something.

As you said the game was already notorious for being ridiculously difficult so that guy’s opinion is irrelevant. He’s supposed to be a parody right? So then anything he says shouldn’t be taken seriously. I’m still baffled as to why he is popular. I’m guessing most of the people who watch that trash are preteens who still think curse words are the funniest things ever. There were reviewers of terrible games (Seanbaby) and youtube reviewers(CGR) before him. And they both do it much better.

And there aren’t as many mediocre shooters on tthe NES as you might think. Look to the Genesis and Turbografx for that.

I link to him, not so much because I agree with everything he says (nor do I agree with that RetroJunk article, for that matter), but to show that Silver Surfer has a reputation in the retro community.

Just like if I ever write an article about how I once tried to review every NES game and failed miserably, I will reference this site for Dylan’s reputation. And, because I agree with everything he says.

(Michael) We’ve been playing SS this week for our podcast and I must say I agree. Nowhere near the worst game on the system if you are willing to put the effort in to survive for a little while.

Here’s what always bothered me about this game. Why does one of the most powerful characters in the marvel universe die in one hit?

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