Raiden Trad (Genesis) review
"Raiden was never a great game. Hell, Raiden was never even a good game, period. The game doesn't even try to be original; its most remarkable feature is just how unremarkable it is. Hey, it's yet another vertically-scrolling shooter, but this time you can...err... "
Raiden was never a great game. Hell, Raiden was never even a good game, period. The game doesn't even try to be original; its most remarkable feature is just how unremarkable it is. Hey, it's yet another vertically-scrolling shooter, but this time you can...err...
...Raiden doesn't even have a gimmick to make itself stand out. It really is just another me-too arcade shooter. Yet, somehow, some way, and with a whole lot of luck, the game ended up being one of the more popular titles during the shooter fad of the late 80s and early 90s. Popular enough so, in fact, that Raiden spawned two sequels, several spinoffs, and of course, a slew of ports to home systems across the board: Turbografx-16, Atari Lynx, Amiga, PC, Jaguar--yes, you read that right, a Jaguar version--and, of course, the SNES and Genesis, retitled as "Raiden Trad".
I could have died a happy man without ever playing Raiden Trad again. After reviewing the SNES version and being bored to death of its generic level design and dull weapon system, I thought I was done with the game for life. Little did I know that a Genesis version laid in hiding, waiting for just the right moment to pounce out and reveal its existence to me. As someone who actually has some prior experience with Raiden Trad, I thought it my duty to venture into the undiscovered country that is the Genesis version of Raiden Trad.
To my surprise, Raiden Trad on the Genesis is not, in fact, the same game as Raiden Trad on the SNES. The two versions have different developers (Toei Animation did the SNES edition; Micronet tackled this one--if you've ever heard of either of those companies, you're lying), different levels, and completely different bosses. It's like playing a completely different game altogether. Sort of.
The play mechanics are identical to every other version of Raiden; there are two main weapons, a spread gun and a laser, and the spread gun is still about 263 times more effective than the laser. Either of these weapons can be upgraded and switched between by grabbing the flashing red/blue energy capsule floating around the game's eight levels. In addition, there are two types of missiles (homing and straight-shooting) that shoot in tandem with your main guns and can be obtained by nabbing the mysterious floating "H" capsule.
Two main weapons is simply not enough. Raiden Trad on the Genesis suffers from the same lack of variety as every other version of the game: even though the entire contents of the levels have been changed this time around, you'll still ham-fistedly plow your way through most of the game simply by strafing back and forth at the bottom of the screen with the spread gun. There's no need to ever switch guns or strategize.
Like every other version of Raiden, the bosses are fast and exciting, but only because they wake you up from the coma induced on you during the rest of the game. I do admit that the revamped bosses in this game are an improvement over the ones found in every other version of Raiden, but only slightly: the final boss is ridiculously cheap this time around, and having your ass kicked by its flurry of nigh-unavoidable fireballs for the 200th time will make you want to throw the cartridge (actually, make that your computer--no one owns this game on cartridge) into a meat grinder. Which brings me to my next complaint.
Raiden was always a pretty forgiving game. Your ship instantly respawns when you die, like it should in any good shooter (not that Raiden is a good shooter), since nobody enjoys going through a whole level all over again after being hit by a single projectile. Which makes it baffling that Micronet would see it fit to take instant respawning out of the game and replace it with an annoyingly unforgiving checkpoint system, which sends you back about halfway through any given level. A fireball from the aforementioned final boss clip your ship's wing? Have fun going through 3 incredibly boring minutes of the game's bland final stage all over again, only to inevitably die at the final boss a few dozen more times and repeat the process with every lost life.
And speaking of a bland final stage, so is every other area in the game. Even though they're brand-new, the game's levels feel no less generic or derivative than in any other version of Raiden. Instead of flying over some drab gray military installations for the first five levels, you get to fly over some drab brown military installations for the first five levels. Creaming your pants yet? Well, try to hold it in at least until level six, when your ship hauls its ass into space and flies against an even more dull starscape background.
The sheer boredom of Raiden Trad also carries over to its presentation. While the game runs significantly more smoothly than the SNES version, and there's less slowdown to boot, the color variety has taken a noticeable hit; your ship and the endless henchmen you fight against look more lifeless than ever. Furthermore, Micronet placed a massive black bar at the right side of the screen to display your points, lives, etc., which takes up about 30% of the screen or so and gives the whole game a cropped, claustrophobic feel. The game also recycles the same uninteresting soundtrack from every other version of Raiden, except adapted to the vastly-inferior-to-SNES Genesis synth.
Was anyone really asking for this game? Were there really hoards of fans clamouring for yet another generic vertical shooter to play on their Genesis? Raiden is an unremarkable game regardless of platform; it wasn't exciting when it was named Raiden Trad and ported to the SNES, and it still isn't exciting even after being given a makeover and released on the Genesis. There are way better shooters on the Genesis: Lightening Force, Gleylancer, and MUSHA are all far more worthwhile games to spend your time with. Go play one of them and forget about Raiden Trad.
(P.S. This is the second game called "Raiden Trad" I've played through to completion, yet I still have no idea what the hell "Trad" is supposed to mean. Mistranslation? Obscure, awkward English word? The world may never know.)
Community review by phediuk (April 04, 2006)
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