Raiden is a scrolling shoot 'em up that appeared in the arcades in 1990 and was successful enough to spawn several sequels and a few spin-offs. Home conversions started appearing the following year but the only ones on my shortlist are for the TurboGrafx-16 and PC Engine. Raiden was released on the HuCard format in 1991. It was a good rendition of the original arcade game although it loses the two player mode. In 1992 an enhanced version was released on CD-ROM as Super Raiden. Appearing only in Japan, it was more of the same but featured a much improved soundtrack and a couple of extra stages.
As befits an arcade shoot 'em up the plot is simple. Super Raiden is set in the year 2090 after the Earth has been invaded by aliens. Using the alien technology the World Alliance Military have developed the Raiden Supersonic Attack Fighter with which the only hope for mankind lies.
|A 1UP and a B waiting to be collected.|
The game is set over ten vertically scrolling levels each ending with a boss fight. Your Raiden ship is initially armed with the usual pea-shooter which can quickly be upgraded by collecting power-ups dropped by certain enemies. The power-up cycles between red and blue. A red power-up give you a Vulcan Cannon which fires a spread shot - the more it is powered up the more it spreads. The blue power-up arms you with a an Ion Laser. The laser fires a narrow beam but is more powerful than the spread shot.
Sub-weapons can also be added to the ship. An H icon arms the vessel with homing missiles and the M icon equips forward firing missiles. Picking up icons when fully armed provides extra points.
Additionally, you carry three powerful Thermonuclear Bombs with each of your three lives. More can be added by collecting B icons. They may not destroy all enemies on the screen but they do a lot of damage and absorb bullets.
|It doesn't fill the screen but the Thermonuclear Bomb provides a brief respite.|
Other pickups include P which sets your current weapons to full power and 1UP which provides an extra life.
Extra points are awarded for picking up medals, Miclus and fairies. Miclus is a dragon mascot of the developer and I only saw an elusive fairy once on the first stage but couldn't seem to find it again.
|Miclus is a recurring character in Raiden games and is playable in at least one.|
Super Raiden is once again one of those 1 life games where if you lose a life you lose all your power-ups and it's hard to get going again. When you do die your explosion throws out some shrapnel that damages enemies for a few extra points.
It has to be said that the graphics aren't great in Super Raiden though this is mostly the fault of the arcade game rather than the PC Engine. Although detailed the graphics are pretty uninspired and many of the sprites feature throughout the whole game. There is also some flicker when things get busy. Likewise the sound effects are nothing out of the ordinary. The soundtrack, however, is excellent being directly streamed from the CD.
This type of shooter is not normally my cup of tea. While it's far from a 'bullet hell' game there are lots of enemies and bullets flying around to keep track of. Bosses especially are fond of spewing out waves of bullets. The speed of your ship is also fixed making it that much harder. This all makes for a difficult and at times a very frustrating game. It is however very addictive and hard to stop playing. For that reason it gains a place on my blog.
|A faster ship would go amiss in situations like this.|