Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Arcade Shmups #17

Raiden (1990)
By: Seibu Kaihatsu Genre: Shooting Players: 1 Difficulty: Hard
Featured Version: Arcade First Day Score: 96,400 (one credit)
Also Available For: PlayStation, PC Engine, FM Towns Marty, Lynx, Jaguar, Falcon, PC

For the longest time now I've been meaning to give the much-revered Raiden a thorough once over. I've played it a couple of times over the years and, while it never exactly blew me away, it did tickle me enough to leave this nagging desire to dissect it properly. Its name is arguably more famous than the game itself, which is understandable since, as well as giving rise to a long series, it also happens to mean 'Thunder and Lightning' in Japanese! A fearsome name like that certainly gives it a lot to live up to but you wouldn't know it from the story which is the usual nonsense: set in 2090, you (and a friend) are charged with seeing off some invading alien buffoons called the 'Cranassians'.

The name conjures images of a generic Star Trek 'race of the week' with a tiny facial difference to make them 'alien' but they've got some decent hardware at their disposal which is distributed with increasing intensity over eight stages. Their forces consist of several types of aircraft, tanks, boats, and all the usual stuff you'd expect to find in a non-spacey shmup. Your craft, the Raiden Supersonic Attack Fighter (which is based on alien technology, incidentally) starts the game with a weedy twin shot and three large bombs. Destroying some of the larger aircraft releases collectible icons, however, which include extra bombs, missiles, or power-ups.

The missiles come in homing or non-homing varieties while the weapon power-up alternates between red and blue. The former boosts your default weapon, gradually turning it into a formidable spread shot while the latter gives you a laser which is more powerful but only fires straight ahead. The only other things to look out for are medals which can often be found in the wreckage of destroyed tanks and give you bonus points. This type of thing is rarely worth risking your life for in any shmup though, and with Raiden that's even more the case! The enemies aren't as numerous as in some games but they appear from all sides of the screen and quickly send plenty of bullets in your direction.

The merest blow from any of them is of course enough to claim one of your lives here and there are no shields to offer a brief reprieve or even speed-ups to help you circumvent an enemy or their attack. You do have the bombs, admittedly, but they're not an instant save and there aren't many of them either. Accordingly, I found Raiden to be among the toughest shmups I've played! The collision-detection is pretty good and the ship moves well, if slightly slowly, but there's often so much to avoid that it's not too likely that you'll be able to fully power-up your ship, and even if you do you'll lose it all when you do die. This is especially true of the boss battles which can get a bit ridiculous!

These are usually much larger tanks and aircraft and things of that nature and they sure are well-armed! Some of the pesky normal enemies continue to attack during these confrontations too (although to a lesser extent) so it's not merely a case of working out the attack pattern of the boss. Having said that, the game does throw you a lifeline by releasing your previous power-ups when you lose a life which can (potentially) fully restore things if you can grab them, but if you're as crap as me you'll die just as often as not while trying to reach them! From a technical point of view, things are mixed. On the plus side, the music and effects are catchy and distinctive, although slightly repetitive.

The graphics, too, are quite detailed and move nice and smoothly regardless of how many enemies or bullets are flooding the screen, but the number of different sprites and variety of the landscapes is a little disappointing for a game of this age. New enemies appear now and then but old ones are reused throughout the game as well, and the scenery is often a little dull and uninteresting. There's some nice attention to detail though, like little guys running around on the ground or the debris of your ship destroying nearby stuff when you lose a life. How many of the stages you'll end up seeing is debatable though, and to be honest I wasn't all that inclined to keep trying. Many games are difficult, obviously, but the best ones make you want to show them who's boss. Raiden annoyed me often and, as I lost my fifty billionth credit on the same damn boss, made me shout many ugly words as well. It is of course a two-player game though, and in that capacity it's a rather unoriginal but quite enjoyable blaster which is noticeably easier than when played alone. The Raiden name may well be a proud one, and it's probably worshipped by many hardcore shmuppers with super-human skills, but for mere mortals like me it's just too hard and not special enough to devote the necessary time to.

RKS Score: 6/10


  1. Hey, Simon, if you think the first Raiden is too hard, steer away from Raiden 2.
    Now that one is REALLY tough, it seems Seibu broke the knob while adjusting the difficulty. :S

  2. Haha, thanks for the warning! I guess I'm just a wuss with some games. I certainly couldn't '1CC' many of them like you do (>.<)

    1. Well, give them some more time, persevere and results will certainly come.
      In Raiden, choose player 2 (blue ship) and stick to vulcan (red) and homing missiles (H). Picking up the blue ship makes the game easier!

  3. Blimey, I didn't even try that! It's weird that one is easier than the other. I always stick to the red weapon though, the game's hard enough when it's powered-up fully! (>.<)

  4. Hi! RetroKingSimon.

    I'm also a Retrogamer, and also I'm writing my little blog about it.
    I am at the beginning, and perhaps beyond, I'll show you!

    For now, I wanted to tell you that I poked around a little on your blog, and I find it funny, and full of little things. I like how you did.

    Anyway, if that's okay, I would mention you in my blog, as soon as I get the chance, as it is my intention: to quote interesting sites that I happened to find.

    A greeting and good luck!

  5. Hello Mr. Goulstin, thanks for your message. I'm always happy to meet fellow retro gamers! I'm glad you've enjoyed my blog. I would take a look at yours as well, but there's no link in your message (>.<)

  6. Hello again!
    No, I have not included links, because as I said, I'm really early!
    My blog is really poor!

    And I realized that it is easier said than done!

    Anyway, I do not speak of the game itself, but my idea is to put those who have been my experiences with the game ...

    It may be that gradually, my ideas can change ... I have so many things to say, but just no time!

    Rome was not built in a day!

    If you want to take a look, here's the Blog: (ah! I'm not English!)

    Ps: But the important thing, on which I will not change my mind, is to place the Links, that somehow I liked or that I found interesting ... but I prefer to have the consent to do so ... you'd be the first! (look at page... under constr.)

    One way to allow - to those who come to see me, if they do! - To share other information (yours!).

    Until next time!