Available from HobbyLink Japan here.
Lost to the Universe…
“I have been making games for nearly thirty years, but I believe my motivation in those years has been to make people happy. With shooting and action games, the goal is to eliminate the threat, so they’re often saddled with an image of barbarity. I do not feel that is the core of games lie, however. There has to be some other essence inside, some feature or component that makes people happy.” – Miyaji Takeshi, from his final interview with Famitsu Magazine.
Takeshi Miyaji was of the first generation of auteur game developers in Japan, who turned the simplistic potential of early home systems into something vital and worthwhile. Founding companies like Game Arts, along with this brother Miyaji Yoichi, he was the mind behind classics like GunGriffon, Lunar, the Grandia series and, of course, Silpheed.
A true luminary among game creators, he was taken from us in 2011.
More than Simple Fun
Miyaji always had a flair for the dramatic and knew that if games did not demonstrate that sense from the very beginning, that they would never evolve. Ultimately this would lead him down the path of narrative RPGs like Grandia, which might only be seen as natural, considering his love of folklore. However, what he said in one of his many considerations about Grandia for example applies even to his early, superficially simplistic works like Silpheed. He was never aiming just for fun in his work, but attempting to provide a theatrical narrative which would draw on the cupidity of the player so that, once the action had begun, even basic games would stand the test, because their legacy was not just in their mechanics.
Rather, by giving even a simple shooter like Silpheed a backstory, depth of character, and a sense of reality onto which a player could hang their imaginations, Miyaji hoped to transcend technology and appeal to a more primal and important part of the human condition:
Style & Substance & Insubstantiality
There are many games — Miyaji once opined in the run up to the release of Silpheed: The Lost Planet — that pandered to the desires of artists and programmers, but gave little thought to how users would think about their games – be they on the shelves before purchase or after the game is turned off and the memories of them linger.
At the time Lost Planet was released, the polygon technology which had made the original Silpheed so outstanding was increasingly normal, so when consulting with Ukyo Masaki, the lead designer on Lost Planet, Miyaji passed on not only his lore from the original game, but also his ideals. As a result, not only did Lost Planet become a visual feast (admittedly for what turned out to be a dead end system, before being brought back to the PS2) it was given that soul which which made the first game so powerful for such a ‘simple’ little game. Perhaps it was not perfect, but as Jason Venter’s review concludes it is a worthy game, with a worthy ship, which was worthy of this lovely little kit being built today.
PLUM (Pretty Lovely Unique Mechanism) was a company new to me when I encountered this kit, and I was surprised to see how they had managed to creep up on the pop culture mech, figure, and even racing scene.
I certainly appreciate their dedication to lesser known branding and interesting designs.
Should anyone know more about them, comments below would be welcome.
Crude… That is the word for this kit. Unless I got a lemon, I was amazed at how many badly shot parts were on the runners of this kit. That, added to the rather inconsistent color of the plastic, and we are not off to a flying start…
My usual methods would not work on this model, with the panel lines being so fine. Therefore, after lining with both Gundam markers and inks, I went over again with Tamiya XF White, cut 50/50 with Mr. Hobby retarding thinner and lightly spraying the components until the heavy lines has been softened to the point of being acceptable.
You can easily see the before and after more clearly here.
The design of the main cannon is certainly interesting, but each panel is only held on by a single slender plug, so real care is needed in assembly.
There is something very ‘Chris Foss’ about this design. If I were to do another one, I’d dig out the Terran Trade Authority books, and do a really colourful number on this…
Spacing Guild Tug – from pre production of DUNE – by Chris Foss.
The secondary gun panels were the worst victim of warping in this kit. Thankfully, being thin, they were easily flattened out again with hot water and some weights.
The decals on this beast… A real sight to behold. Perhaps a tad fragile, especially when hit with some decal softener, but I cannot fault the detail or their quantity.
It pleases me greatly that someone like PLUM would turn their resources to more interesting kits like this.
It certainly has its flaws, and even though they can be addressed easily enough, the price tag on such a small model should have meant better QC, IMHO. Still, perhaps I am being overly picky – spoiled by Bandai, perhaps.
Caveat Emptor is the watchword here… this is a costly, small, poorly made kit that might give novices a few headaches in both building painting.
Fans of the game series though will find it worth the effort though, as might kitbashers would can farm this for some very interesting pieces for project work.