Reviewed by Neotype

Raiden could be considered yet another milestone in shoot 'em up history. Although it didn't really introduce new features to the genre, you'd be surprised how many recent shooters look at this game for inspiration. Definately a case of not what it does, but rather how it's actually done.

And Raiden did (and still does!) it pretty well. Essentially pretty basic - use the fire button a lot, dodge the incoming fire, occasionally throwing a smart bomb when things get too crowded. Luckily it's much more than the sum of it's parts - my point is that Raiden is just a lot of fun to play. (I'm also quite grateful that it saved my summer holiday a couple of years ago from becoming the most boring I ever had - apparently Southern France isn't as enjoyable as they make it out to be!)

Of course shooters are only as good as their weapons are. There are two types here - predictably guns and missiles (what else?). You can choose from either spread or laser, and straight or homing respectively. Personally I recommend the laser together with the homing missiles - this way you're nicely balanced. When you die, you lose all your upgrades and extra smart bombs, so don't hesitate too much using these! Be sure to look out for the "faerie" power-up, as she's so kind to hand over a couple of these much-needed items to help you on your way.

Next, the opponent. Pretty standard futuristic military stuff, many of which are land-based. Bosses mostly consist of large tanks or other similar massive chunks of metal, and these aren't too tough to bring down. The game in general is comfortably easy, making this excellent starter material for shmup newbies. It's a nice training course for veterans nevertheless... ;)

I haven't said anything about the audiovisuals before because they're, well unremarkable. They are inoffensive and appropriate, just unlikely to impress anyone nowadays. But hey, I would like to see YOU trying to do a believable explosion effect with a simple FM sound chip :)

Home versions range from great to average. I wasn't impressed by the Mega Drive version, because it lacks the ambition the PC Engine version has. I haven't seen the Super Famicom version as of yet, so I can't really judge that one. (It's absolutely awful, sadly the worst version ever - Malc) Too bad the two-player option is missing from the PC Engine, but my guess is that it was left out for technical reasons. It has to resort to "short-cut" techniques such as Konami-style bullet flicker with one player already. There's also Raiden for the dead-on-arrival Atari Jaguar, which I haven't seen (not really surprising eh?), and a compilation pack for the PlayStation. The last one is the best of course, and arcade-perfect (apart from slowdown here and there. No big deal, and besides, PSX owners are getting used to that anyway ;)

Much as it is hard to come up with really good arguments, Raiden is a fine shoot 'em up, and a very influential one at that. Maybe not worth buying in the era of atomic-powered 2D sprite fests like ShippuMahouDaisakusen or Battle Garegga; but definately worth devoting half a megabyte of your hard drive to. And that's about as much fun as half a megabyte can get...

Thanks a bunch, Neotype!! Malky at the kb... Yep, Raiden didn't half get around eh? I've got it on PC, PCE HuCard, PCE CDROM, plus the two PSX versions. The PSX version is naturally the best, with the huge purple swirly toothpaste weapon being the best thing about it!! A bit of a swizzle the Raiden DX disk actually, it's just a slightly jazzed up version of Raiden Project, and to be honest I can't see THAT much difference with it anyway. More like a Director's Cut if anything. I'd love to know EXACTLY what's different about it.

Apart from that, I have to admit I find Raiden a mite tiresome now. I think it's because it hasn't really progressed varietywise over the various incarnations: everything is just so predictable each time you play a new one. Raiden is like a sweaty friend who visits too often - doesn't change very much.

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Raiden never was really much to look at. All muddy browns and greens, only in the later games like Raiden 2 (on Raiden Project and DX) would you get some space levels. Even then they were fairly bland. Where Raiden excels is the detail... enemy ships blow up into lots of tiny bits, each one with its own explosion when it hits the ground. It's a shame they didn't spend some of that effort on a little bit of variety. Everything is so down to earth and 'realistic' - no massive space monsters here.

There's something really fascinating about smashed up motorways. Lots of games and films feature cracked overpasses, like Escape from LA, Dante's Peak ,Vapor Trail and of course Raiden. See if you can remember any others! You should see the tanks in the second game (this shot's from Super Raiden PCE). Massive multi-jointed affairs, with some GREAT pneumatic whirry noises when they move. Those noises really added to the sense of detail about Raiden. I wish the developers would stop milking the game for all it's worth and move on though, they do seem to be stuck in a wee bit of a Raiden rut, and it must be said it never was the very best shooter anyway!

Aha! Just dug out Raiden 2 for Win95 there, to grab a few pics of it. Basically identical to the Playstation version (not having seen the arcade one, I can't vouch for that) it's a very welcome addition to the few proper arcade conversion PC shmups that exist.

Backgrounds are lovingly detailed in 2, these craters are pretty impressive. Shame there's not an awful lot of nice parallax, like in Layer Section My fave weapon, the purple toothpaste. This is an addition to the small range of weaponry available in the first game - the red spreadshot and blue laser. Here's one of those tanks I was talking about earlier, great huge clunking beasties.

Level 2, and a couple of amphibious tanks await. Toothpaste em until they die. Plenty clean teeth in this game. This weapon is so much fun to use, you really get pissed off when you lose it, or pick up one of the other two types.

Mid level3, and it's a sort of Stealth-Boat affair, posing not very much threat.

I was going to stick a cd-rip of the win95 game up here, but it's too big, and besides, it's a full version current PC game - Piracy and emulation tread very similar paths, but there is a distinction. I think.
I'm quite surprised the pc can handle this amount of action on-screen, it still scrolls nice and smoothly. The clouds reflect in the dirty water here. Raiden 2 has a lot of aesthetic touches, especially the way the enemies blow up and scatter hundreds of parts around.


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