Little Things: Sylphia

Well, that’s kind of rude.

Sure, the title heroine of Sylphia, a 1993 Compile shooter for the PC Engine, may not seem all that socially active. She’s not exuding charm from every pore or delivering bon mots that leave the bourgeoisie in stitches. But let’s give her a break.

For one thing, it’s hard to join the most cultured upper echelons when one’s faux-Grecian city is overrun by monsters, as we see at the beginning of Sylphia. And it’s tough to maintain a robust network of friends and acquaintances when you’re taking up a sword and defending innocents from those marauding creatures, as Sylphia bravely does.

It’s also a tad difficult to be the belle of any particular ball when you’re torn open by a demon’s claws and left to die, which soon becomes Sylphia’s sad predicament.

Perhaps Sylphia’s chances with high society improve once a mysterious ball of light resurrects her as a fairy avenger, but she has no time for galas and gewgaws. She has an army of hellish invaders to destroy. And destroy them she does, contending with living statues, mer-beasts, griffins, cyclopean spider-crabs, flying Nausicaä-ish insects, and a somewhat flattering interpretation of Scylla.

Poor Sylphia also faces the unfortunate truth that her game isn’t one of Compile’s finest shooters. It’s not terrible, and it has the developer’s usual penchants for generous power-ups and cool little details (I particularly like the tiny pilot who scuttles into the second stage’s giant armored boss). Yet it lacks the tenacious design, the satisfying destruction, the pounding rhythm of Spirit Soldier Spriggan and M.U.S.H.A. Sylphia doesn't seem bothered by that, but you know it has to nag at her.

So what do you all have to say when Sylphia's force is spent in battle and she’s floating inches from her tomb? “Silphia has no life.” You don’t even spell her name right.


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