Friday, 22 March 2013

Maze Games #9

Raimais (1988)
By: Taito Genre: Maze Players: 1-2 Difficulty: Hard
Featured Version: Arcade First Day Score: 82,620
Also Available For: Various Compilations for PlayStation 2, PSP, Xbox

I wonder how the name is pronounced...
Good old Taito, they sure know how to rip a game off don't they? Take Breakout as an example - released way back in the 70's to great acclaim and popularity, but by the 80's it was starting to look and feel rather dated, so what did Taito do? Around ten years after the original appeared they made their own version, gave it a sci-fi theme and basic back-story, tarted up the graphics, chucked in a load of power-ups, and released it as Arkanoid, which... also received great acclaim and popularity, and is in fact still generally regarded as the pinncale of the genre. Next move? A couple of years later, they worked their magic on another early classic in pretty much the same way, and the result is Raimais. As you may have already noticed from the screenshots, it's based on Pac-Man, but what have Taito done to moderise it? That's right - given it a sci-fi theme and basic back-story, tarted up the graphics, and chucked in a load of power-ups!

I won't get to that laser before the enemy does...
Indeed, for Raimais is basically a cross between Pac-Man and Arkanoid, which probably means I don't really need to say much else! However, it's a surprisingly intricate game for its type so to elaborate a little: there are thirty-two single-screen stages in total, each of which is bested by steering your little space-bike thing around the mazes to collect all of the dots, or 'energy plates'. Doing so then opens up to eight gates around the four sides of the maze, two on each wall, which offer differing routes through the stages. You always start off at the bottom of the screen and your bike moves forward automatically but the enemies appear very soon afterwards and they're pretty fast so it's best to not leave it trundling around by itself for long! To that end, it can of course be steered in the four normal directions freely and pressing one of the two available buttons will give it a speed boost which soon proves invaluable.

Each coloured dot is worth a different amount...
There are seven types of enemy altogether which are gradually introduced through the game. Most will cost you a life if you crash into them but they all have a unique ability or affect on your contraption too. The first kind you encounter just dart around the maze seemingly randomly but later examples can jump, some clots have cloaking devices, some slow you down rather than kill you, and there are even replicas of your bike which can use the same power-ups as you! Talking of the power-ups, these come in the form of lettered icons which appear periodically and there are eight kinds: S (slows down the enemies), B (opens an exit from the stage), A (one-hit shield, although the more you collect the more hits you can take), C (clears all energy plates), P (extra life), O (opens an entrance to the 'reverse round'), R (has a random effect), and lastly our old favourite from Arkanoid - L (lasers). These bits and pieces are all mighty useful and most are self-explanatory with the possible exception of one.

The first scary boss. And a few lasers, luckily!
That's right, the odd 'reverse rounds', which I'm still not sure I've figured out properly myself! These usually lead to one of four battles against large insectoid bosses (don't worry, there are a few 'L' icons available here!) but are followed by an encounter with an oafish-looking creature called 'Gum Can' who talks to you briefly (in Japanese) and sometimes gives you a gift as well. These can include a super shield, temporary invincibility, enemy stopper, warp, maximum speed, or the 'Mirror of Light' which is needed in order to see the 'good ending', if you get that far, obviously! If you do, the mysterious device should help you to liberate your brother who's been kidnapped by... someone. It sure is a tough challenge too. The enemies are not just as fast as your bike but they can sometimes travel faster! This is where the 'boost' button comes in handy of course, but the enemies are often unpredictable and change direction at the last second, and it also makes turning corners more difficult, so careful use is advised!

Look, there's scary devices in each corner :(
Aside from the power-ups, the biggest Arkanoid influence here is in the graphics, and there's actually not too much difference between them. Accordingly, the detail is quite nice, with decent looking sprites and backdrops, but there's not much variety with only a handful of different examples of the latter. The bosses are quite cool though - giant insect monsters are rarely anything but! Unlike Arkanoid, however, there is some in-game music here and it's quite good - the tunes are pleasant and suit the action well enough. It's also a fairly pleasant game to play. There are some creative and challenging maze layouts and a few features such as bombs, barriers, shutters, tunnels, metal energy plates which need to passed over more than once, and even meteors if you take too long. This stuff combined with gradually faster and more numerous enemies, not to mention the fact that they quickly regenerate when destroyed, means that things can become very hectic as you progress into the game! Fortunately, it's also pretty addictive too! Raimais doesn't do for maze collect 'em ups what Arkanoid did for bat 'n' ball games but it's decent enough if you like this kind of thing. Which I do!

RKS Score: 7/10


  1. Taito may have been the master of rip offs, but mixing two genres like tha is actually quite ingenious

  2. Yeah, it's a good idea for sure. It's a bit like remixing an old song into a more modern style I suppose. It doesn't necessarily take as much talent as coming up with an all-original hit, and sometimes the results are appalling, but often it leaves us with something undeniably spiffing! :)