Genre: Shmup Developer: Seibu Kaihatsu Publisher: Bignet USA Players: 1 Released: 1991
8 Mega-Bit Memory? Mmm, when I first heard this quote, I figured that Raiden Trad was going to have more animation, better music, and faster gameplay than most other shmups on the Genesis. This marketing tool back in the early 1990s had worked with Strider, which remains a very popular arcade port to this day. Now, back then in the early 1990s, you figured that the Genesis port of Raiden was going to be arcade perfect and better than any other port out there (and there were a lot of them). Well, that’s not the case when you actually play the game. Not only doesn’t it play as good on the Genesis, but the game also doesn’t even live up to its 8 Mega-Bit Memory hype!
The reason why Raiden was known as THE vertical shooter back in the early 1990s was because of its gameplay. While other shooters at the time were trying to be more complex, Raiden took a simple approach: Make the game easy to learn, but hard and fast to dodge enemy fire. You only have two main weapons in the game: The Vulcan Spread (red), and The Laser (blue). The Vulcan Spread is weak but covers the whole screen if your weapon level is maxed out. The Laser doesn’t cover the whole screen, but its small range can kill enemies at a faster pace than the Vulcan Spread. You increase the weapon level by collecting weapon icons, which change colors every few seconds from red to blue.
Like the main weapons, you only have two secondary weapons: homing and straight missiles. The homing missiles seek out enemies, but they’re not powerful enough to cause major damage. Straight missiles only shoot in a single direction, but they’re very powerful. Like the main weapons, you can increase the missile level by collecting their icons (the rules of increasing and changing your missiles are the same as the weapons), which keep switching from H (Homing) to S (Straight). When you start the game or respawn, you won’t have any missiles. Lastly, the bomb attack is a very simple weapon which covers most of the screen. Use it when you’re about to get hit or want to cause major damage.
The scoring system in Raiden Trad revolves around simple medal collection. Throughout the levels you’re going to find a lot of medals. Collect as many as possible and beat the level without dying, and all the ones you collected will give you a large bonus. If you’ve collected a bunch and you get hit, all of those medals will be lost.
Truthfully, the graphics have a lot to do with why I’ve scored Raiden Trad so low. Of all the Raiden ports out there, the Genesis port has some of the worst visuals. Level one’s scrolling background has less animation, and later on the backgrounds are very washed. While we all know that the Genesis was only able to display 64 colors on screen, games like Gunstar Heroes show that you can make very colorful games with such a limitation. It seems like Micronet rushed Raiden Trad because the game is missing a lot of animation. The Raiden port on the Turbografx-16, despite playing on supposedly weaker hardware, has a lot more animation than the Genesis one. For example, in the arcade and on the Turbografx-16, bosses and large enemies will flash red when they’re almost dead. Well, the Genesis port lacks that that animation. I can make a big list of how many animations are missing, but I think I’ve said enough on the matter.
Raiden was also famous for its music, and Micronet did a decent job with the score here. The famous themes in stage 1 and 2 are done well enough to accurately resemble the arcade machine. Unfortunately, most of the sound effects are sadly below average. Just about all the explosions in the game sounded very dull, which doesn’t quite fit with the game at all. The arcade original has that great bass explosion effect when you destroy a boss and sadly that wasn’t in the Genesis port.
The arcade original was also famous for its very fast paced action, but the Genesis version plays very slowly and that what probably turned off a lot of people. Again, I wonder where the 8 Mega-Bit Memory which wasn’t used to store animations went to. Talk about wasted potential.
Many people who purchase and played the game were very disappointed with the lack of animation, horrible graphics, and very slow paced action. The Genesis was able to do more than that, it just seems like Micronet was rushing just to get a Raiden game on the Genesis as soon as possible. I’d recommend you only buy Raiden Trad if you want to collect all the Genesis shooters, but otherwise stay away from it.
SCORE: 5 out of 10