Note: This review was done on actual Turbografx 16 with no emulation.
It is Raiden! Is this game one of the great lost classics? Will you keep coming back to it? And most important of all, will it earn the Malstrom Award, the gold standard of all gaming?
Note: This is a review of the Turbo Chip version of Raiden, not the CD version which is Super Raiden.
Perhaps the reader has heard of Raiden. It is a very famous shmup series that is still going on to this day.
Above: Raiden V is coming to Xbox One, a Generation 8 Console
“Wow!” says the reader. “This must be a popular series!”
It should actually scare you. Raiden series has gone from Generation 4-8. It lives beyond Gradius. I remember playing Raiden some back in the day, but I forgot about it. Raiden was popular enough that it was ported to every console under the sun. Raiden is also on Super Nintendo, Genesis, and even the Atari Jaguar.
Raiden is a port of the arcade game, and it is very well done with one big problem. There is no two player option. When you die in Raiden (and you will die), you go back to a check point. It is one hit, one death.
Raiden is THE game that started the bullet-hell shmup phenomena. There are bullets all over the place! The only way to play this game seems to be very patiently. You fly around, and you will die. You need to sit back. I find this way of playing boring and despise Raiden for it. On a console like the Turbografx 16 that is filled with shmups, there are so many other much more fun shmups to play than this. Your ship moves way too slow. The power-ups are OK. You never feel truly powerful in this game. Other than that, it plays like any other shmup.
If you hesitate to try Turbografx 16 because you “do not like shmups”, then you should avoid this game. Today’s shmups are bullet-hell shmups. It is not that you dislike shmups, you dislike bullet-hell. Raiden is the pioneer of bullet-hell. Current shmup games call Raiden ‘classic’ and ‘amazing’, I call it forgettable and the game that destroyed the genre.
Go play other shmups on the system!
Above: Note the frustration of the reviewer as he plays the game. “Fuck…. I hate this game…” This is how you will be, gentle reader.
Does Raiden deserve the Malstrom Award? No. This game is extremely overrated, hasn’t aged well, and only shmup nerds keep hailing the start of the game series that destroyed the shmup genre. Raiden is very well made, very challenging game, but you can skip it to go play something more fun and interesting.
Disclaimer: The ‘quality’ is gauged only by how often I return to the game. TG16 games are not isolated; they are compared to every other game out there. A game can be ‘bad’ and keep me coming back. A game can be ‘good’ that I never want to touch again. Irrational addictive-ness, which defies quantification, is the only element examined here.
-TG 16 Games Reviewed So Far-
Malstrom Awards: (Addictive and Awesome even today, they refuse to age. Score of 10)
Devil’s Crush ([$68] Imaginative sound and gothic theme. You’ll keep coming back to this one.)
Galaga ’90 [$34] (Purest shmup I have ever seen. This will still be played 50 years from now.)
Gradius [$30] (Four options can cause slowdown, but this arcade port remains difficult and legendary.)
Final Soldier [$30] (Good music and polish, easier difficulty, multiple powerup options. laser bubbles! Consistently fun.)
R-type [$40] (Never gets old because it can never be beaten. Fun to try here and there.)
Salamander [$40] (Challenging and addictive. If you like NES Life Force, you will love this.)
Honorable Mentions: (Good games that are flawed or gameplay has suffered aging. Score of 6-9)
(8) World Court Tennis [$16] (Most interesting RPG on the TG 16. Seriously.)
(7) Alien Crush [$22] (Interesting, addictive, but flawed. Good to play as a break to Devil’s Crush)
(6) Bonk’s Adventure [$33] (Meh platformer oozes incredible charm)
(6) Boxy Boy [$27] (Solid puzzle game, but it gets stale fast. Contains level editor.)
Don’t bother: (Not fun to play today. Score of 5 and below.)
(5) Military Madness [$44] (Overrated, dated gameplay, repetitious, dull colorless setting of the moon)
(5) Neutopia [$76] (boring, bad game design, can’t hold a candle to Zelda, fire wand is only thing going for this game)
(5) Raiden [$72] (Overrated, more frustrating than challenging, no 2 player mode that was in arcade)
(4) Bomberman [$40] (dull and boring, totally surpassed by its sequels on this system)
(4) Ninja Gaiden [$80] (Compared to NES: worse sound and controls, terrible parallax scrolling. Nothing to see here.)
(3) Moto Roader [$17] (5 player party game, great upgrade system, terrible core gameplay. USE HANDLE B!)
(3) Street Fighter 2: Champion Edition [$20] (2 button controller is terrible for 6 button game. Good luck getting a 6 button controller.)
(1) Keith Courage in Alpha Zones [$10] (The 16 bit version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.)