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By Seibu Kaihatsu Sony Playstation 1995


(Above) US release published by Sony
(Below) Original Japanese release
(Top of page) UK/Europe release by Ocean

Raiden Project - Near-as-dammit
Arcade-perfect Raiden and Raiden II
on Playstation!

The first time I ever played a Raiden game was at a Pizza Hut (which in my area always have better games than the arcades) back in 1993... and I must have wasted 5 bucks on the thing. I liked the game so much that I soon went looking for the SNES port known as Raiden Trad... but I never could find a copy. Supposedly the SNES version was a crappy port, so perhaps that worked out for the best. A few years later, it came to my attention that this new-fangled Sony device was receiving a two-in-one deal known simply as "The Raiden Project". Needless to say, I was sold on the PSX right then and there. Toshin-what? Ridge who? Now, it was a full year after the PSX's launch before I got one, and by then RP's great popularity was apparent; I had the hardest time finding a copy, and when I did I paid only $19 for it, brand new. I almost feel sorry for ripping off that poor Kaybee store like that. :)

STORY: Standard shooter fare...

Raiden: Aliens are invading Earth, and have utterly
destroyed our defenses! Some nameless group of
scientists have managed to capture an alien fighter
and used the technology to create a super-fighter,
which naturally is humankind's last hope.

Raiden II: Aliens come back for revenge blah blah blah.. Well, if you're looking for some sort of deep plotline in your shooters, learn Japanese and go play Radiant Silvergun. :)

GAMEPLAY: RP's greatness lies not with
what it does, but how it does it. Gameplay wise, Raiden and Raiden 2 are little removed from
Xevious, though you do get a few new weapons. In both games, your ship has three sets of weapons. The main cannons can fire vulcan shots, lasers, or this neat looking homing plasma (R2 only). Once the coolness of the plasma weapon wears off, you'll realize it pretty much sucks and start using the other two weapons. The laser is supposed to be the most powerful weapon (since it only fires in a small area ahead of your ship); however, the vulcan shots can cover the entire screen when powered-up fully, and at point-blank range the vulcan is actually more powerful than the lasers. Of course, fighting bosses at point-blank is usually quite risky. You also have missiles at your disposal. Normal missiles fire straight ahead and are more powerful than the homing missiles, which are weaker but fire more quickly. Also, you have a limited supply of Bombs. Normal Bombs create a large blast radius that causes heavy damage to anything in its range and absorbs enemy fire. Cluster Bombs (R2 only) spread over a larger area but cause less damage.

CHALLENGE: You want it, you got it. The game has four difficulty settings, and even the easy setting can prove a challenge. Unless you do something wimpy like jack up the continue settings. :) (True Raiden-junkies might like to turn on the 'start-back' feature in the options menu to make the games a lot more exciting.. finish either R1 or 2 in this mode and you'll feel a hero I can tell you.. Mike). Raiden Project can flood the screen with bullets quite a bit, but they can usually be avoided with skill or using the bombs. Fear not, though, for RP doesn't fall nearly as far into the Smart-Bomb Trap as Darius Gaiden or RayStorm do.

GRAPHICS: Raiden looks a bit dated, but you have to consider that it came out in 1990. Raiden 2 has much better graphics, which IMO hold well even today. It's all straight 2D sprite graphics, though, so if your graphics must be some form of polygonal mish-mash, you might want to look elsewhere. Surprisingly, slowdown is quite rare, usually only occuring in 2P mode when both players are fully powered-up. My only complaint here is the shrapnel that Raiden 2's enemies create when destroyed can sometimes make it difficult to tell what's harmless and what's actually a bullet. But it just takes some getting used to.

AUDIO: The original music from the arcades sound quite weak; fortunately, you can select "remixed" versions of the music for both games that sound much, much better. And the music is not really that bad at all. My favourite selections are R1, Level 1 and R2, Level 2 (remixed, of course).The sound FX from R1 are a little dated, but again what do you want from a game from 1990? :) R2's are much improved, especially the explosions. Be sure to crank up the volume before you destroy something big, like a boss.

CONTROL: My only complaint in this department is what happens when you try to rig the game to horizontal scroll, where you turn your TV on its side to recreate the arcade experience. Unfortunately, there is no option to reconfigure the controller to adjust to this, so if you choose this option, you have to play holding your controller sideways. It's not difficult to get used to doing that, but it would have been nice to include the option.( Note: only the US version seems to have this problem, the Japanese/European releases include an option to reconfigure for arcade-style vertical controls -Mike ). Other than that, the game controls quite nicely.

OVERALL: 10/10. Raiden 2 remains to this day the standard to which I compare all vertical shooters. It might not have the innovation or graphics of, say, Radiant Silvergun, or the awesome Zuntata soundtrack of Darius Gaiden, but makes up for that by still being a blast to play. A must have for anyone with a PSX. Don't just sit there, go grab yourself a copy now!

Score out of Five:

Zach Keene

Zach is the author of many FAQs including G-Darius,
Gradius III, Einhänder,CSOTN, and the AGVS FAQ

I have to say that Zach's review is pretty-much spot on..
I had stupidly avoided picking up Raiden Project for a while due
to being a little sceptical that these arcade ports would be
actually that good, knowing the Playstation's not-quite top of the
class 2D capabilities.. Recently I picked it up at a bargain ten
pounds and was amazed at the quality of the two conversions,
especially the newer Raiden 2 which is fabulous (in comparison the
original game, though still a classic, is getting a little long in the
tooth nowadays). However the package as a whole is excellent
value and I would thoroughly recommend Raiden Project with but one
reservation - you need to turn your TV/monitor on its side to play
it as intended (Dont' try this at home.. go round someone else's ;))
A remixed PSX version of Raiden 2 -
Raiden DX - was released in
Japan only. I have not as yet seen it, apparently it differs from the
original Raiden 2 only superficially, and as such is probably one
for the die-hard Raiden freak only.

Looking for more Raiden info? Check out
The Raiden Website!
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