When was the last time you played a shmup with a strong narrative? Never, maybe? Radiant Silvergun has an intricate storyline that unfolds in a non-linear fashion. It involves flashbacks and time travel, spanning thousands of years of history. The last stage is called "The Origin", further evidencing the unusual nature of the story. I don't think we're talking about a tale on the order of Memento, or even an episode of Lost, but still, any story beyond "aliens invade, kill everything that moves" is definitely unusual for the genre.
But what about the gameplay? In this area, too, Radiant Silvergun stands head and shoulders above its peers. Many shooter conventions are turned on their ear. There are no weapon power ups; instead, you have access to all seven weapons at the beginning of the game. Three seperate buttons, plus combinations, summon weapoons ranging from homing lasers, rear-firing shots, and even a huge plasma sword. A chain system, similar to that of Ikaruga, can be used to obtain what amounts to experience, which buffs up your ship's effectiveness in battle. You'll likely need all the help you can get to navigate the dizzying array of bullets and defeat the grueling bosses.
Truth be told, perhaps the most compelling feature of Radiant Silvergun is simply the fact that it is unobtainable at the moment. Often in life, you really want the things that you can't have, especially those that are just barely out of reach. Perhaps this explains, at least to some degree, why Radiant Silvergun has an almost mythic quality to it. When the game is released soon on XBLA, I will grab it on day one. It may not be the single greatest gaming experience I've ever had, but I'm certain it will rank highly in the list of Co-Op Classics.