This shooter classic has been ported to a number of systems, but the Jaguar cart is the only one I’ve played (other than the arcade original of course). And while there might be a better version out there (most likely psx) this doesn’t change the fact that the Jag version is great! Surely brilliant on any hardware, here is my review of Raiden.
With Atari execs deciding to scream about the Jags 64-bit power (not the smartest move) Raiden might seem like a curious choice as a launch window release. Being a port of a game released over 3 years earlier, the graphics had already started to date. But apparently (correct me if I am wrong) this was one of a small few games that had been planned for the Panther, the machine that was ultimately scrapped in favor of the Jag. So it makes sense that they’d want to use it. And despite its aging appearance that in no way hinted of 64-bit power Raiden on the Jag still manages to look good, just like the arcade original.
An attractive game with very clean and colorful visuals, Raiden really
benefits by throwing variety at the player. I for one certainly appreciate how the missions take place in a number of locales, not just in the dark star filled skies. The first 5 levels take place planet side before moving you into space for the final 3 nerve racking ones. It’s a fun game to watch to as you’ll pick up details you might have missed prior. Raiden also throws lots on the screen at once with no slowdown.
But I’m getting ahead of myself … what is the plot of Raiden? Heh heh … it’s a shoot em up, do any gamers expect an actual story?
For what its worth, you are driving off aliens … big surprise eh? Story matters not a bit in Raiden, or any shump for that matter. Said aliens inch up from the bottom, swoop in from the sides, and dive bomb you like kamikazes. It is intense, but there are good core weapons available to drive them off (which do you prefer, red machine gun or blue laser?) as well as bombs and homing missiles.
The music for Raiden is truly great in my honest opinion, and very memorable.
The Jag does it proud, and it sounds top notch especially for a cart. (having heard cd tunes of the psx version I actually prefer the Jag music, surprisingly) You may even appreciate it more on the Jag as it is not drowned out by the constant hammering of the arcade buttons.
Although the explosions may not be as powerful as you like, the sound effects seem appropriately subdued as to not grate on your nerves or drown out the great music.
While the Jag pad is not my ideal controller, it doesn’t matter much in this game. It controls well, although your thumb may hurt if you play several games in a row. I find I really prefer the pro pad just because the d-pad seems to have more give to it.
Some have made complaints about this game, but I don’t think they are warranted. Lack of rapid fire … doesn’t really bother me. Hardcore shump fans will probably welcome the absence, and it gives an extra boost to an already challenging game. The status bar on the right side of the screen … no big deal. It might not look the best in still shots, but I’ve found that it doesn’t seem to factor when actually playing the game. The ability to scroll far to the left or right generously makes up for it I think. Too
challenging … depends (1 hit & your ship explodes) But, it can be tweaked with continues and such to make it beatable (but still plenty challenging)
I don’t consider any of these flaws … for that matter, I think the game has no real flaws of note (a better ending sequence perhaps) It is good as is. And (for being a straight port) the Jag version is good as is.
I highly recommend picking this game up. It has a lot of positives. The replay value is sky high too. Add in the crazy fun 2-player mode and you have one of the best shooters ever made!