Monday, 27 July 2015

Currently Playing...

Raiden Fighters by Seibu Kaihatsu (1996) - Arcade

Actually I'm a bit late with this one as I've now finished playing it (chuckle), but I was playing it as part of a small 'shmup league' over on Facebook. My participation in this score-based league is infrequent, owing partly to my rather slouchy nature but more to the sad fact that generally speaking I suck arse at video games. This is painful to acknowledge but it's also true for the most part - while I could quite easily run rings around some random bunghole, my limitations become immediately apparent when placed up against 'proper' hardcore gamers.

With this in mind it's probably a bit strange that I decided to participate in the league at this stage - the Raiden games are hardly renowned for their ease after all - but I've had a Raiden Legacy icon staring at me from my PC's desktop for a while now so I figured this was a good opportunity to put it to use. Raiden Legacy, you see, is a bargain-priced compilation of some (though not all) of the Raiden games, but luckily it does include Raiden Fighters which I can't seem to get working anywhere else (grrr!). I reviewed the original game some time ago here at Red Parsley and, while it's clearly a stylish and well-crafted shmup, it also made me much angrier than it should, so I was kind of expecting the same sort of thing from this sequel.

It's a slightly shorter game than the original - only seven stages this time - but most other aspects of its design are very similar. It's obviously a vertical-scroller, set over similar terrain (airfields, forests, battleships, etc), and features a crapload of tanks, aircraft, choppers, and gun emplacements, all peppering the screen with trillions of bullets. The biggest difference is the choice of five fighters to play through the game as (with a couple more secret ones available if you know where to look). All of them come with an initially weak forward shot but have different laser and missile weapons that can be powered up to very satisfying levels, and all ships can be joined by 'slave' drone ships with reasonable firepower of their own.

Sadly, this offensive variety hasn't made the game a great deal easier to play. The number of enemies can get overwhelming at times and their bullets, whilst not quite in 'bullet hell' territory, are still very numerous and some travel really fast. It isn't as unforgiving as some shmups though, with power-ups being scattered around the screen when you lose a life which can then be re-collected. It does look pretty nice too. Some of the sprites can seem a little pixellated at times but there's a good variety and most of the backdrops are great including a nice Arctic stage, and the (player) weapon effects are pretty sweet. The music is much more of a mixed bag, with some really good tunes but some awful ones as well.

Apart from the swanky new ships to pilot there's very little here that Raiden players won't have seen before but I did rather enjoy playing it. The action is fast and relentless but not terribly unfair, it just requires a lot of practise, and to be honest I would probably have enjoyed playing it even more if I hadn't been competing against mostly superior players (I finished 10th out of 11 players!). Oh well, something else I probably won't have time to rectify, but that doesn't mean I don't want to return to the game. There are a few small niggles and it's not as polished as some vertical-scrollers I've played recently, but it's definitely a solid enough example.

RKS Score: 7/10


  1. I'll try and remember what I wrote here last time, forgot to "Publish", whoops....

    Love those Raiden games, but found the Raiden Legacy collection thing (at least on the PC) to be a bit of a disappointment. Horribly "slick" menu systems aside, I can't find any way to turn off "auto-fire"! Surely hammering away at the fire button adds to the fun of these games?

    Currently, the only game I'm actively "seeking" is Raiden III, on PS2. Played that one at all?

  2. Not yet no, I've only played the first Raiden and now this (well, I had a quick go on the second game too, just to check it worked). I'm told this is the weakest of the series though, so I'm looking forward to the rest :)

    I know what you mean about the Raiden Legacy collection - I'd rather they kept the original title screens and everything, but at least there are new modes and stuff. The auto-fire default is a curious one but I did manage to turn it off in the 'game options' section.

  3. Look for The Raiden Project on the PlayStation, it's the first two games on one disc. Very nice way of playing them! Couldn't get the second one to work in MAME, so that's the only way I've been able to play it outside of finding a machine in the wild.

  4. Raiden Fighters looks like a great shoot em up title! The visuals appear to be quite good based on these screenshots and so are its explosions! Thanks for the review RetroKingSimon!

  5. Hi THB - that's where I played Raiden 2 actually, albeit fleetingly (so far). I'll play it properly eventually!

    Hi Ogreatgames, thanks for dropping by :) Raiden Fighters is a pretty decent shooter for sure but it's not easy!

  6. nice game! now im playing X Multiply :D
    but i look this and is so nice, i want to make a 1cc later :D

    you play this stuff on mame?
    i ask because i have Raiden 1 on mame, but i think there is more... D: like Raiden 2

  7. Hi Mr. PG, thanks for dropping by :) You're a much better player than me if you manage to 1CC this game, it's pretty tough!

    In my experience, most Raiden games are a pain to emulate - I use Raiden Project on PS1 to play Raiden 2 and Raiden Legacy for PC (from Good Old Games) includes several Raiden Fighters games. It's cheap too :)