Sanvein - Success


Success - ps1 - 2000

Reviewed by Kiken

"You have the priviledge* to continue this battle..."

Sentouki Sanvein (simply referred to as Sanvein for the rest of this review, and for my personal convenience) has to give you one of the most peculiar privileges ever in playing it.

I suppose this won't be a simple task, since it's rather difficult to class Sanvein. To say that it feels like Smash TV on ice would probably be somewhat accurate. But, unlike many reviews before it, I guess I'll have to elaborate as much as possible to describe Sanvein in it's full right, rather than write it off as simply a cheap shmup.

Welcome to German 101...

That's right, just like Einhander, Sanvein's title is Deutsch. As being such, it's correct pronounciation is (zahn-fine). And yes, I know your next question will be, "What the hell is a 'Sanvein'?" Well, I haven't got a clue and couldn't find the word in any of my German dictionaries (perhaps now would be a good time for any of our Deutsch shmupping public to clue us in on what this means), but apparently it's a very agile little craft with numerous possible combat modifications.

Now that I can say it... what does it do? Congrats.. you've landed yourself the privilege to save these poor folks from their utopian (more like dystopian) society inside the confines of St. Schutz. You must pilot the Sanvein through 5 series of inter-connected rooms, each containing various degrees of defense ships to complete your mission.

   Now it's a question of where to begin. First off, you'll have to select which body and parts you want to comprise your fighter. There are 3 choices for Sanvein's body; Gluon (spread shot), Photon (straight shot), and Graviton (launching explosive shot.. ie, grenade).

Then you have the 3 choices for Sanvein's optional weapon parts; Gluon (4 homing misiles), Photon (a light sabre extending from the front of your ship), and Graviton (a blackhole mine).   

   After selecting your fighter configuration you'll be prompted to choose your starting point. Again, you have 3 choices; Inner Wards, Stratums, and Outer Wards.

The first level you choose will be followed by the next in the order posted above (ie, choose Stratums first and you'll do Outer Wards second followed by Inner Wards third). The final 2 stages (Mine and Core) will always come after the first 3 in said order (much like TF5).

Off into the cramped, black yonder!

Time to delve in! You're given a map of the sector, comprised enitrely of hexagonal rooms with a number corresponding to the strength of the enemy/enemies there-in.   

(it's written as a Roman numeral in the center of the hexagon... ie; ii= 2nd level difficulty, while iii= 3rd and so on and so forth), as well as rooms marked "BOSS"... Hmmm, I wonder what those could hold? ;)

Once inside a room, your ship will naturally seem to gravitate toward the walls of the arena, plus firing your weapon and optional weapon will push your fighter backward. Moving into the center can be difficult unless you stop firing or swing from the outside toward the middle. Hitting an enemy or a wall has the same effect: you bounce off much like a pinball but sustain no damage. Needless to say, just kill everything as fast as you can. As for your optional weapon, no need to save it for a rainy day as it constantly recharges, just use it as soon as it's powered up (a little meter next to your ship will give the current percentage charge of your optional weapon, turning from red to green when you can use it).

Gameplay: 75%

To clear out a section, you simply destroy everything in each room, which ought to take no more than a few seconds each, perhaps longer on bosses. The reason why you don't want to dily-daly is because the clock is always ticking, and anytime you get hit, a rather significant chunk of time will be removed from your total time. You regain time by beating the numerous bosses strewn throughout the maps, so there is always a sense of urgency to your mission.

The game's power-up scheme is rather unique: your weapon level will alter based on how many adjoining rooms to the one you're entering have been cleared. Take care to use this to your advantage when entering a Boss room, be sure to have cleared as many rooms around the Boss room as possible so you can enter at the highest level. Why? Because you're score for beating a boss is multiplied by your ship's power-up level after it's destroyed.

Seeing that the game's extra options are opened up according to score (with the highest opening up at 30,000), it behooves you to attack bosses at your highest possible strength since you ONLY get points for blowing them up. The regular piddling drones littering the majority of rooms give you no score. Destroy every drone and boss in a section and you'll fight the true stage boss, which normally isn't much more difficult than the standard bosses. Although, please note, the power-up level from the last room you finish carries over to the true boss room, so be sure to kill a boss (at preferably level 6) as your final target for a map.

So how can unique, high-pressure gameplay take only a 75? Well, because Sanvein's major drawback is it's repetitiveness.

Graphics 70%

This is another mixed bag, with the PSX doing some really beautiful and trippy effects but being all rather bare-bones. Your fighter and the enemies you square off against are polygonal, along with the rotating/cycling/moving backgrounds and the transparent walls of the rooms. The only problem I have here is that everything is VERY small!

We're talking Bangaio-small at some points, and with the game's bizarre and dark colour palette, it can make important things (like enemy-fire) hard to discern in the heat of battle. Anything else you see is 2D, including the game's static-esque background noise which is present on practically every screen. It's truly a strange presentation, but I happen to like it. It seems to compliment the game's urgency-factor well.

Sound 85%

Plenty of varied music tracks, ranging from jazz to rock to techno, all in thier own way keeping with the sense of impending doom as the clock runs down. Punctuated explosion noises coupled with the drone of your different weapon systems overlayed with a voice-over from your commanding officer make for honourable shmup sound-effects. As you progress with scorring, numerous additional sound options can be opened, including sound/music tests, sound balancing, and even a reverb option.

Overall 75%

Once again, this game isn't earth-shattering and it's not going to redefine the genre of shmupping. What it will do is offer a very frantic and well-presented game at a low cost (it's a Simple SuperLite 1500 Yen series game in Japan and an A1 Gamesrelease in the States, meaning it's dirt cheap no matter where you buy it). So, if you're looking for an inexpensive game that actually has some quality and difficulty, I suggest you try Sanvein.

Boss Strategy
Be sure to have cleared as many rooms around the
Boss room as possible so you can enter at the highest level.


"Beautiful and trippy"

Sanvein is one of those games, which alongside Rez, Night Raid, and Mutant Storm favour more abstract enemies and imagery coupled with vibrant colours glowing over a deep black.


[yup it's a flash file. don't start lecturing me about it or anything, I know, I know.]

   Stage Boss emerge


Stage Boss clear   

Thanks Kiken!! I bought Sanvein when it first came out, and played it kind of shallowly I have to admit - I think I was just tripping to the pretty colours and shooting kind of distractedly - yet another game that I didn't give enough time to. Now I actually know the best way to enter boss rooms, I think I'll dig it out for a blast.

In a way I wish more games were like this... finely polished slices of fun which might not last forever, but don't exactly cost the earth either! Cheers dude... malc

* yes we know how to spell privilege btw. Success don't.


shmups!   © 1997 - 2007  Malcolm Laurie