I've heard much ado about the classic arcade shooter game Raiden, although I've never played it. I've also heard that Raiden Trad for the Super NES is a really bad port of that game. Well, after having completed Raiden Trad on every difficulty level, I can honestly say that Raiden Trad isn't just a bad port - it's a bad everything! If it hadn't been for Alpha Mission, Raiden Trad would be the worst shooter I've yet played.
Raiden Trad's graphics are not very colorful and have an overall "washed-out" appearance. Granted, it is based on an early 90's arcade game, and therefore, I could be forgiving of that. But I've seen what the first level of Raiden looks like on the Playstation's Raiden Project game (which is supposed to be arcade-perfect), and it looked somewhat better. There was more detail and even some animation in the backgrounds, such as one part where you can see a farmer and a herd of cows down below, which doesn't exist in Raiden Trad. Trad's graphics resemble SNES's SimCity. In fact, there's an area where you fly over a town that looks exactly like something out of SimCity. But even SimCity looks better than Raiden Trad.
Many of the objects, enemies, and bosses are very dull. One prominent example of this are the asteroids that appear in the space levels: They're about as generic a "rock" graphic as there ever could be. Some things look strange, such as the smoldering mark left on the ground by destroyed enemies. Some aspects of the graphics actually hinder gameplay! Although enemy bullets are very large, they are the same yellow color as your own plane's shots, so it's hard to see them when they cross paths.
The most positive aspect of Raiden Trad is its music. Much of it consists of hard-driving, catchy themes. However, they sound very subdued and the instrumentation is generic. There's practically no excuse for this, since the SNES has some of the best sound capabilities of any system I've heard. Explosions also sound muffled, and the "rat-a-tat" effect of your ship's laser is annoying and unrealistic.
One of the biggest problems with Raiden Trad is that the speed of your ship is way too sluggish, making it difficult, if not impossible, to avoid bullets when there are a lot of them on-screen. Since bosses send out exponential flurries of shots, your only hope of surviving them is to either find a safe spot (if there is one) or continuously throw bombs which absorb all on-screen bullets. The ship is also quite large, making it all the more difficult to surpass obstacles. So rather than emphasize quick dodging, Raiden Trad is a shooter that is guilty of encouraging you to power-up to the max, and then sit back and fire away. This isn't too difficult to do, either, considering that your shots spread across the entire screen when about halfway powered-up, and your homing missiles zero in on everything.
I don't have the Raiden Trad manual, so I had to look up the story on-line. Of course, since it's an arcade shooter, I wasn't really expecting much. Once again, the plot is about aliens that have attacked the earth. (But if they're aliens, why does much of their craft resemble earth-style planes and tanks?) I don't mind that the story is unoriginal, but Raiden Trad lacks excitement, atmosphere, and
cool bosses. There is one rather bizarre cinema scene of your plane returning to the base to dock and then taking off into space. I'm not even sure why this was put in there, as it just seems a waste of time.
Raiden Trad may have five levels of difficulty, but I was hard-pressed to find much difference between them, other than the number of continues you're given. When I beat the hardest mode (Pro) I didn't even use a single continue, although I had on easier settings. There is practically no challenge at all. Most "deaths" that occured were mostly caused by my ship being too slow to avoid enemy bullets.
Boss fights fall amongst one of three categories: too easy, too tedious, or impossible to survive without using bombs. There is one boss that becomes immune to your attacks when it begins moving. During this time, you have to survive by dodging its hailstorm of bullets, until it stops moving and becomes vulnerable again. Sounds intriguing? Well, it could've been, except that evading his shots is a mere matter of repeating a simple pattern in a relatively "safe spot" over and over again. Some bosses are even reprised in later stages and the final boss is second only to the first boss for being the easiest one in the whole game.
Raiden Trad is not even fun as a game for just blowing things up. Enemy patterns are far too simple. Too much of the game is spent doing nothing but holding down the fire button as your screen-wide wave of bullets smolders everything in its path. There are too many lapses where nothing happens. The look and difficulty of the stages are all so similar that there's no sense of progression. The final boss was so lame and easy that I didn't even realize it was the final boss until the credits started to roll.
To give an example of just how agonizingly mundane Raiden Trad's gameplay can be, there is a part in an "outer space" level where a shower of asteroids rains from the top of the screen. Basically, your means of surviving this is to stay at the bottom of the screen and fire constantly. There is very little dodging involved and these rocks fall for quite some time. Once they stop there is a small pause in the action where nothing happens, and then another large group of rocks starts to fall!
Raiden Trad also has some weird game elements. Sometimes, bosses seem to take more hits than usual. There's an airplane boss that drops huge bombs if the fight goes on long enough. But sometimes, after you beat it, one or two of those bombs appear out of thin air in the area behind the boss. I cannot tell if these things were intentional, or if they're "glitches" of some kind. Considering how "low-budget" and "rushed" Raiden Trad feels, I wouldn't be surprised if the latter is true. Other times there is bad slowdown when there is too much onscreen, which I'm sometimes forgiving of. But it seems like this may have been part of the reason the programmers had to hold back.
I was hoping Raiden Trad could've given me some glimpse at what the arcade classic Raiden would be like, or at least prepare me to take on more challenging modern overhead-view shooters (which I currently suck at playing). Instead, Raiden Trad is a lesson in how bad a shooter can really be.
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