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Raiden Trad (SNES) artwork

Raiden Trad (SNES) review


"Given the sordid state of scrolling shooters today, it's hard to believe how overcrowded the genre was in the early 90s. At one point, it seemed like every developer on the planet had their own shooter franchise: Konami had Gradius, Capcom had 1942 and its sequels, Namco had Xevious...of course, the trend wasn't limited to the major developers either. Irem had R-Type, Technosoft had Thunder Force, and an obscure Japanese firm named Seibu Kaihatsu made Raiden. Like many of its contemporaries, Rai..."



Given the sordid state of scrolling shooters today, it's hard to believe how overcrowded the genre was in the early 90s. At one point, it seemed like every developer on the planet had their own shooter franchise: Konami had Gradius, Capcom had 1942 and its sequels, Namco had Xevious...of course, the trend wasn't limited to the major developers either. Irem had R-Type, Technosoft had Thunder Force, and an obscure Japanese firm named Seibu Kaihatsu made Raiden. Like many of its contemporaries, Raiden is very much a "me-too" shooter with little to nothing to make itself stand out among the crowd.

For whatever reason, the game was successful enough to justify an SNES port named Raiden Trad. No one knows what the hell "Trad" means, but it hardly matters, seeing as how another unwritten rule of scrolling shooters is to have a nonsensical title (see: the aforementioned Gradius, R-Type, and Xevious, along with Darius, Aleste, Vulgus, Zaxxon, and the list goes on.)

To review Raiden Trad in a nutshell, I can say that if you've ever played a scrolling shooter before, you've played Raiden Trad. Only a slight thematic change differs the game from any other shooter: rather than piloting a futuristic spaceship against an alien invasion, you pilot a state-of-the-art fighter jet against an invading evil empire. And that's where Raiden Trad's "innovations" end.

Raiden Trad is a vertically scrolling shooter, and I could probably finish describing the gameplay with that sentence alone. You know what to expect.

Raiden Trad provides two main weapons for you to use. A laser beam is one of them, as is typical of scrolling shooters. The spread gun is the other, and, as usual, it's vastly overpowered and makes short work of any opponent. Both of these weapons can be upgraded and switched between at any time by picking up the ubiquitous red-blue energy capsule strewn throughout the game's eight levels.

In addition, there are two secondary weapons that can be obtained by touching a capsule labelled with "H" (what exactly "H" stands for remains a mystery): homing missiles, along with dumbfire missiles, which travel in a straight line ahead. Both of the secondary weapons fire in tandem with your main gun whenever the fire button is pressed. Rounding out your ship's arsenal is (predictably) a screen-filling bomb, which clears all projectiles from view and kills almost anything in one hit.

You've done this all before. Raiden Trad suffers from a severe lack of originality on all fronts. Level design is about as generic as it gets, consisting of green fields littered with drab-looking military installations. For the last three levels, your fighter hightails it into outer space, which is a lot like the rest of the game, except with an even more boring starscape background. The game's only real attempt to mix things up is when it throws a seemingly endless barrage of asteroids at your ship in the sixth stage. These are easily avoided and/or destroyed, and as such, the sixth stage becomes tiresome in a hurry.

In fact, "tiresome" is a good descriptor for Raiden Trad in general. The game features few real obstacles to overcome; it's rare that the game forces you to test out your shooter twitch skills, as the game is unusually light on projectile-spewing enemies. Most foes don't even try to put up a fight; it feels like they just wandered onscreen accidentally and didn't mean to get in your way. The game manages to feel like it's dragging on forever, despite the fact that it only takes about a half-hour to complete.

Admittedly, the game does feature some tense moments in its boss battles. These encounters, unlike the rest of the game, actually do feature some of that manic projectile dodging that makes scrolling shooters so enjoyable. Unfortunately, they're way too short; most of the bosses can be beaten in ten seconds or less. Nonetheless, they make it clear that Raiden Trad at least had the potential to be an above-average shooter, rather than the ho-hum experience it ended up.

To make matters worse, the game has a very anticlimactic ending: after beating a large ship that's no bigger or tougher than any other boss in the game, the music changes, and it looks like you're going to move onto a triumphant final level, where Raiden Trad will at least somewhat redeem itself...but then, suddenly, the game cuts straight to the credits sequence. Lame.

Raiden Trad's graphical presentation is completely middle-of-the-line: everything looks bland, but on the other hand, nothing is outwardly offensive. Animation is bare-bones, enemy designs are your typical ensemble of little fodder planes and larger battlecruisers, and the game's colors aren't particularly vibrant or eye-catching. There are absolutely no "oooooh" moments in Raiden Trad, as far as graphics are concerned.

The game does mitigate itself somewhat with a decent musical score, that combines some militaristic, upbeat tunes with fairly catchy melodies. Unfortunately, the game's stages feature only three different songs, which are then recycled through the rest of the game.

Raiden Trad is a completely forgettable game. The gameplay is tired, the graphics are bland...even just on the SNES, there are far more memorable shooters. Space Megaforce is good. Axelay is even better. R-Type III trumps both of them. Raiden Trad?...Meh. It just isn't worth mentioning when you consider the competition out there.

Rating: 5/10

phediuk's avatar
Community review by phediuk (March 22, 2006)

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