My Playstation Raiden Collection
It seems when gamers hear the name Raiden, they typically think “oh you mean that guy in Mortal Kombat that shoots electricity from his hands!”, or “you mean that character in Metal Gear Solid?” That’s not unusual but when I hear Raiden, I think of that sweet sweet shmup (or shoot ’em up if you aren’t familiar with the term) from the very early 90’s.
I was first introduced to it from a great high school friend of mine. He had the SNES port which was not an exact arcade port but it was definitely a great shooter. From then I was hooked. We played that game for hours on end in two player cooperative mode. Great memories I tell you.
The original Raiden had only two different primary weapons, two different sub weapons and lastly the emergency mass destruction bomb. You could choose to level up the standard red spread shot or switch to the more powerful (but less defensive) straight blue laser. For the sub weapons you could choose the direct missiles or the homing. The straight shooters were stronger but obviously more difficult to use. The homing was… well much easier since you didn’t need to aim ^.- My friend would always use the blue laser with the straight missiles. He was brute force! I used the spread with the homing for the defensive aspect. Twas a great combination.
When Raiden II was released, I was in awe. The developers added a new primary weapon as well as a new bomb. The new primary weapon was a purple laser that looked very similar to the blue laser, was weaker and it moved the direction you were moving. So if you flew right, the laser would curve to the right. Same the other way as well. Not only that but once the laser made contact, it would lock onto the enemy until it was destroyed or until you stopped the rapid tapping of the shoot button. What was great about it was that once locked on, you could literally whip the laser all over the screen while locked to the enemy and destroy minor enemies with the large area that the laser whipped around. It had a great defensive and offensive balance. It was my weapon of choice while my friend still used the traditional blue laser for massive beatdown. The new bomb was a cluster bomb. Instead of taking 2 seconds to detonate (which typically was enough time for you to be destroyed) it was instantaneous. If you were surrounded by aircraft and bullets with no way of escape, this was probably the only way of getting out alive. Amazingly effective when you couldn’t tell if the bullets were yours or the enemies.
Aside from the new weapons, the game was almost identical to the original. Of course with the new weapons, it added a whole new element to the game. I didn’t mind it at all.
Recently released was Raiden III. It’s a visually impressive game. Instead of being pixel based, it’s completely created in 3-D. Even though the levels are still in a birds eye view, there is occasionally camera rotation that reminds you that the game is actually in 3-D. Weaponry has not changed much since Raiden II aside from adding a third type of missile and doing away with the purple laser by replacing it with a green laser. Instead of being able to lock onto enemies, the green laser only swings from left to right following your movements. Honestly I miss the purple laser but I guess they felt it made the game too easy. The new addition to the sub weapon array was the Radar Missile. It isn’t quite as powerful as the straight missile but it can’t turn as quickly as the homing missiles. I would say it’s a good balance between both. It will move towards the enemy while heading straight out of the screen but it won’t turn completely around. The standard bomb and the spread bomb has been effectively combined in Raiden III. Now it’s pretty much just a rotating flash of light that destroys/damages all within range. It also destroys enemy bullets which is actually the most important aspect of the bomb.
For the thirty dollar price point, I think Raiden III is a steal. Unfortunately if you aren’t a fan of shmups… you may have to pass. It’s more of the old, wrapped up in new graphics