Review by Tachikoma

"The series may not have progressed much, but still continues to provide a fun experience."

The classic vertical scrolling arcade shooter series 'Raiden' returns with its first full sequel in over 10 years! This time, the game has a new, updated 3D look and is powered by Taito's Type X arcade hardware.

Gameplay
Some shmup fans may be disappointed when playing Raiden III for the first time to notice that not much has changed in terms of gameplay from previous titles. The game is very straight-forward and a little simple in terms of the way the game works much like shooters from the 1980's. There are three different main weapon types as well as three different sub-weapons that the player can collect. For the main weapon types, there is the Red Vulcan which is a spread-like bullet shot effective for attacking multiple enemies at once. The Blue Laser is a straight shot laser beam that is most useful against bosses or larger enemies. The Green Proton Laser beam allows the player to control the direction of the laser beam to quickly clear out masses of smaller enemies and enemy fire.

Sub-weapons are another type of power up the player can collect. As with the main weapons, there are three types of sub-weapon, but do not appear as frequently, however. Sub-weapons fire at the same time as the main weapon. Nuclear Missiles spread out and damage enemies from their explosion. Radar Missiles shoot straight and have a slight homing capability. Homing Missiles actively seek out the nearest enemies. There is one other sort of bonus weapon or firing shot that is exclusive to the two-player mode. It is a blue spread bullet shot that is created by one player's ship firing their weapon behind the other player's ship.

The scoring method in Raiden III is based on how fast you destroy enemies after they appear on screen. Speed is the key and there are also additional bonus point items to collect that will further increase your score. By destroying objects or entire waves of enemies, yellow orbs will appear for you to collect which will increase your score. Hidden in the stages is a little fairy that you can collect that will give a very large point bonus.

Sound
My first impression of the sound in Raiden III was a bit mixed. On one hand, I was immediately enjoying the music. However, the sound effects seemed very generic and bland. The electronic synth music is very upbeat and really makes the stages much more exciting. The first few stages have really memorable melodies, but as the game goes on, the excitement in the music seems to die down a little bit. Overall, the music was pretty good to listen to including the ending credits song.

Going back to the sound effects, I really wished that the developer, Seibu Kaihatsu put in more work into the sound effects. None of the sounds were impressive to me. Especially since Raiden III was on a new arcade hardware, it would've been nice to hear some unique sounds from the different enemies and especially the bosses. They all sounded like they could've just been re-used from one of the older titles from many years ago.

Graphics
Raiden III marks the first game in the series to completely have 3D graphics. The backgrounds seemed to be a mixed bag. Some stages such as the first and second seemed to be very well detailed. For example, in the opening stage, your Raiden fighter takes off from its carrier and flies over the country side and right into the city where a battle is taking place. There are cars fleeing the city on the highway and other cars are being destroyed and one large building blows up right in front of you. Unfortunately, that's about as good as it gets in terms of scripted events for the stages. As you progress through the game, you'll be taken from the ocean to outer space attacking a giant space station. Most of the backgrounds were underwhelming.

3D models including the enemy ships and bosses looked great, I thought. All were well detailed and had some pretty interesting designs. As with most other shmups, the boss fights consist of you destroying different parts until it is completely destroyed. The explosion from the finishing shot looks pretty impressive. There is a slight blur that gives a sense of force when you see the debris being blown away.One thing I would've liked better is that the enemy fire could've been bigger and brighter. Even thought the ship's hitbox is pretty small, it's sometimes a little tough to see some lone bullet coming towards you.

The PS2 port includes a standard aspect ratio video setting as well as TATE mode if you wish to turn your screen to the side in order to get that arcade experience at home.

Replay Value
There are some very nice extra features packed into Raiden III that will keep you coming back to play again and again. In Japan, there are DVDs that are released which showcase exceptional replays of various arcade games. These types of replays are available right on the game disc. All you need to do is complete the stage in order to view its 'Ace Play' replay. You can even record your own replays at the end of the stage to show friends your own strategy. The game is also very accessible to gamers as there are 7 different difficulties. Other unlockables include an art gallery, boss rush mode, score attack, and a mode that will allow you to view the different 3D models.

Playing the game with 2 players is what gave me the most enjoyment from this game. While the core gameplay mechanics arent deep, it's the perfect game to play with someone who may be new to shooters, or someone that has been playing them for years. If you're a long time fan of Raiden and are expecting something drastically new in this sequel, you may want to try it out first before buying. However, if you're a collector and a long time fan of shmups, Raiden III is a fun, old-school style shooter. It's worth checking out.


Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 04/23/07


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