Codex Gamicus

Silpheed (シルフィード, Shirufīdo?) (pronounced "Sil-Feed") is a video game series developed by Game Arts and designed by the late Takeshi Miyaji.[1] It made its debut on the Japanese PC-8801 in 1986, and was ported to the Fujitsu FM-7 and MS-DOS formats soon after. It was later remade for the Mega-CD and has a sequel called Silpheed: The Lost Planet for the PlayStation 2.

Silpheed is the name of the spacecraft that the player controls. Like many shooter games, the story involves using the Silpheed as Earth's last effort to save itself from destruction by a powerful enemy invasion. The game was notable for its early use of real-time 3D polygonal graphics and a tilted third-person perspective.[2]


The MS-DOS version: Xacalite, the anti united universe leader has raided a shipyard and stolen a battleship named Gloire. He has also stolen planetary buster missiles and intends to use them to destroy Earth. "There is no time to muster the fleets", and the best ship available is the experimental fighte,r the SA-08 Silpheed.

The SEGA CD version: In the year 3076, an unmanned space fleet started attacking the colony planets. The Grayzon System, which houses the central photon computer that integrates and controls the galaxy network on the mother planet Earth, was network-jacked by a terrorist group whose leader introduced himself as Xacalite.

The Galaxy Union and Colony Planets Fleet survivors assembled their forces and added the SA-77 Silpheed fighter ship to their fleet to counter-attack Xacalite and his fleet.

Computer versions[]

The original Silpheed game was created for the PC-8801 in 1986. Another version for the FM-7 was released in 1988. In the same year, the game was brought to the United States for the first time by Sierra On-Line who ported the game to PCs and other platforms. Despite the rather limited hardware used, the game featured real-time 3D polygonal graphics and a tilted third-person perspective.[2]

With its early use of flat-shaded 3D polygon graphics, the original 1986 computer version of Silpheed is credited for having influenced X (1992) and Star Fox (1993). Ironically, the 1993 Sega CD remake of Silpheed would later be touted as Sega's answer to Star Fox. [1]

SEGA CD version[]

The Sega CD port of Silpheed features polygon ships over a pre-rendered video background; this method is also seen in other video game titles, such as Namco's StarBlade in 1991, Sony Imagesoft's Bram Stoker's Dracula in 1992, and Micronet's A/X-101 in 1994 for the Sega CD.

Because of its polygon graphics and advertising based on it, the game is often compared to Nintendo's Star Fox for the Super NES, which came about the same time, and both games were perceived as competitors. However, Silpheed made less of an impact than Star Fox. Many gamers felt unimpressed of Silpheed's "traditional" vertical shooter, against Star Fox 's more involved arcade sim shooter, which was uncommon for the time in a console.[citation needed]

The game's story concerns a space war campaign when terrorists - led by a man named Zakarite - hack into the mother computer of Earth, granting them control over all the space weaponry of the solar system. The Earth's only hope is a small fleet outside the computer's reach, provided with a squadron of SA-77 Silpheed dogfighters (referred to as "prototypes" in the manual for the PC version). In the ending credits sequence of this version there are cinematic animations of scenes depicting the fighters flying through stages in the game.


Silpheed is a fast-moving shooter, being a bit of an updated Galaga (with the way enemy ships swarm in formation, although that can be like any number of previous similar games), Zaxxon (the Silpheed flies over similar space fortresses in several stages), and Cobra Command (as sometimes the player is given oral warnings/orders in regards to dodging various obstacles).

The player has a set of Main Weapons to use during the course of any stage, which, depending on how well they do during a game, will result in how much energy they will earn for their Optional Weapon during the next stage (the choice of Main Weapons will increase by one with every 40,000 points, and Optional Weapons' choices with every 50,000 points). One or more Optional Weapons may be available to the player in between stages, which the player can pick and choose which one they want before the next stage begins, although some Optional Weapons will work better during certain stages than others. Each time an Optional Weapon is used, the player's energy level for that weapon will decrease, although the player is able to increase that energy level a little as they destroy ships during a stage.

Also, the player will be able to assign one Main Weapon per side of their Silpheed ship: if given several choices, the player can mix them up, such as having a Forward Beam on the left side of their ship, while having a Phalanx Beam (which shoots a stream of two shots in a 'V' shape) on the right side.

With each hit the player takes, their Shields will decrease, and the game will end when the Silpheed is hit two more times after they run out of Shields. Also, the player's firing, then maneuvering capabilities will go down with the last few hits after their Shields are gone.

Silpheed is known for having exquisite pre-rendered backgrounds during stages, as the player flies through open space, over huge spaceships, fortresses, planets and moons. There are also various power-ups that appear during most stages that are either worth points, add Shields or Optional Energy, or have a special power, like invincibility (for a limited time).

Controls (in-game)[]

  • Move Silpheed—D-pad or joystick
  • Fire Main Weapons—A and C buttons
  • Fire Optional Weapons—button B
  • Pause/advance through nongame (cutscenes) screens—Start button

(Note: these controls can be remapped on the Options screen, except for the pause function.)

Options screen[]

  • Move around—up and down on D-pad or joystick
  • Change/choose weapons—left and right on D-pad or joystick

Weapons, Main[]

  • Forward Beam—shoots straight ahead
  • Wide Beam—fires a burst of several shots in a 120 degree arc, although this will not extend throughout the whole screen, as it has a limited range
  • Phalanx Beam—shoots two shots forward in a 'V' shape
  • Auto-Aim—automatically locks on targets

Weapons, Optional[]

  • Graviton Bomb—acts as a shield, blocking enemy fire from ahead
  • E. M. Defense System—creates a barrier that blocks enemy fire (usage: three times)
  • Photo Torpedo—automatically tracks ships, firing in eight directions simultaneously
  • Anti-Matter Bomb—causes a lot of damage on impact


  • Bonus 1-2: Bonus 1 is worth up to 5,000 points, while 2 is worth between 5-10,000
  • 1-3 Repair—restores from one to three Shield units, depending on which one the player gets
  • All Repair—restores Shield to maximum
  • Option Energy Up—boosts Option Weapon energy
  • Destroy—destroys all onscreen enemies
  • Invincible—makes the Silpheed invincible for a short time


Stage 1[]

This stage takes place over (assumedly) one of the colony planets. This is pretty much a basic stage with small ships that quickly swoop in from the screen edges and has a few bigger ships and missiles that take more hits to be destroyed, along with having the usual bonuses and Shield restore modules.

(Note: unless otherwise indicated, almost all stages have bonuses/power-ups and end level bosses of some sort.)

Stage 2[]

This takes place in an asteroid field, several of which large asteroids can get destroyed by huge laser fire that comes from behind (assumedly from friendly forces) and the player has to dodge the smaller pieces as those asteroids splinter off. Also, there are a few giant asteroids during the stage that the player will receive an oral warning in regards to which way they should turn to avoid them (in the vein of Cobra Command).

Stage 3[]

This stage features several huge ships that the player flies over. Destroy and Option Energy Up power-ups are present in this stage. In the final area, the player flies over a huge ship, which they must dodge various structures on the ship that can cause damage, but there is no boss at the end, just giant laser blasts are shot at the player, which they must dodge.

Stage 4[]

Like Zaxxon, the player flies over huge fortresses, which have several laser towers and laser blasts to dodge, as well as structures that also suddenly rise up from the platforms that also must be avoided.

Stage 5[]

This one is set in free space, having two mini-bosses that require multiple hits to be destroyed. During part of the stage, it appears the Silpheed either enters warp or hyperspace, which is pretty hazardous, as not only do enemy ships materialize out of nowhere, but there are also NO power-ups during this stage at all.

Once out of warp, the Silpheed emerges right by what appears to be Jupiter, which there is a cutscene after the level is completed where the player joins the fleet and docks with a ship.

Stage 6[]

This is another asteroid level, which again a few huge laser blasts have to be dodged, lest they cause damage to the Silpheed. An invincible power-up is also present during the stage.

Stage 7[]

Most of the time here is spent flying over a gigantic spaceship, which the player has to dodge various obstacles that will cause damage if contact is made with them. There are several mini-bosses/groups of them, along with a tank on the surface area of one point that can't be destroyed, only its projectiles can be dodged. There are also laser beams near the end that have to be taken out before the Silpheed runs into them (as they're positioned straight down the center of the player's flight path), but there is no main boss, just several groups of ships at the end that must be destroyed, plus a ring of some kind of energy particles float around in the meantime that the player has to dodge until the spaceship gets destroyed, ending the stage then.

Stage 8[]

The background for this stage showcases two spacefleets at war with each other. There are several groups of mini-bosses and a few giant laser blasts to dodge. A Destroy power-up is also present in this area.

Stage 9[]

The Silpheed flies over Earth's moon in this one. A mini-boss and enemies that fire missiles from behind the player are present.

Stage 10[]

The player is flying over Earth (in slo-mo, no less) during this stage. There is an Option Energy Up and Destroy power-ups present in this stage, and enemy forces include groups of mini-bosses and missiles that appear behind the Silpheed, and at the end boss stage, the setting suddenly switches to outer space, which the end of game area is in the background at that point as well.

Stage 11[]

The player flies through a gigantic fortress. Rows of projectiles that fill up parts of navigation lanes explode and impede the player's progress, along with the energy bursts that the player can only avoid at the end of Stage 7, along with surface cannons whose fire must be dodged like in Stage 4. There are also giant black box obstacles that the player must dodge (which is difficult to do, as the screen area blinks on and off, making it hard to see), as colliding with them cause damage, with triangle-shaped enemies present with them. The ground tanks from Stage 7 also reappear, although shooting lasers, rather than air projectiles that rain down from overhead this time around. There is no boss, just a giant laser blast at the end that the player will have to avoid that shoots straight down the center, and an Option Energy Up power-up is also present in this Stage.

Stage 12[]

This is the final battle, against a weapons' platform. The flight path is all over the place, as the Silpheed automatically will zoom close, then away from the platform, left and right of it, etc. as many laser blasts emit from the platform, which its center gun takes many hits before the player can destroy it and win the game. Also, several projectiles will also join in the fray and will cause damage if they make contact with the Silpheed.



  • Game difficulty levels—normal or hard settings
  • Music and Sound Tests
  • Change Silpheed's default controls
  • Continues (five)
  • Totals at the end of a game of how many times Main and Optional Weapons were fired, enemy ships destroyed, and how many times the game was continued


Review scores
Publication Score
Dragon 5/5 stars[3]
ACE 905 / 1000[4]
MegaTech 94%[5]
Mega 89%[6]
Entity Award
MegaTech Hyper Game

The PC/MS-DOS version of the game was reviewed in 1989 in Dragon #151 by Hartley, Patricia, and Kirk Lesser in "The Role of Computers" column. The reviewers gave the game 5 out of 5 stars, concluding that "Silpheed is highly addictive, extremely colorful, and requires hours of enjoyable practice to master."[3] Computer Gaming World gave the same version a positive review, praising the original music for the game in particular.[7] The British gaming magazine ACE gave the game a score of 905 out of 1000.[4] Mega placed the game at #5 in their Top Mega-CD Games of All Time,[8] MegaTech magazine said the game was "undoubtedly one of the best games yet for the Mega-CD". The game was a bestseller in Japan.[9]


A sequel was released, Silpheed: The Lost Planet, for the PlayStation 2 in 2000. It was developed by Game Arts alongside Treasure.

A space combat simulator game was released by Square Enix in 2006 for the Xbox 360 titled Project Sylpheed. It is not directly tied into the Silpheed storyline, but was instead billed as a spiritual successor.

In 2012 an app for android, called Silpheed Alternative: Menace from Beyond the Stars was made, also considered as a spiritual successor. At an unspecified date a civilian spaceship is attacked by an unknown enemy. Like Project Sylpheed it is a fully three-dimensional game.


  1. Silpheed designer dies aged 45. Edge. (August 1 2011). Retrieved on 3 August 2011
  2. 2.0 2.1 Travis Fahs (July 24, 2008). Silpheed Review. IGN. Retrieved on 2011-03-16
  3. 3.0 3.1 Lesser, Hartley, Patricia, and Kirk (November 1989). "The Role of Computers". Dragon (151): 52–56. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 Minson, John (September 1989). "Silpheed". ACE (24): 59. Retrieved 22 February 2012. 
  5. MegaTech rating, EMAP, issue 21
  6. Mega review, issue 13, page 29, October 1993
  7. Carter, Shiela (August 1989). "Samurai Space Pilot". Computer Gaming World: pp. 22 
  8. Mega magazine issue 26, page 74, Maverick Magazines, November 1994
  9. Official Japanese Mega Drive sales chart, November 1993, published in Mega (magazine) issue 14

External links[]