PlayStation Classics Corner is a new series on PSLS dedicated to modern reviews of PlayStation Classics released on PSN.
About the game:
Raiden III is a 2007 vertical-scrolling shooter, developed by Moss Ltd. and published by UFO Interactive Games in North America. It was originally an arcade game in 2005, but the version reviewed is the PS2 port – launched as a PS2 Classic on November 1st, 2011 for $10.
Raiden III is a pretty basic vertical-scrolling shooter (the screens here have been rotated to fit). There are three main firing modes: a spread-shot, good for players who want to focus on dodging enemy fire; a beam that fires directly forward, good for large bosses but a little harder to handle against larger swarms of smaller enemies; and a sweep-beam that leans in whatever direction you move your spacecraft. There are also three sub-weapons that automatically fire alongside the main shots: a homing missile that can turn in any direction after launch; a sub-weapon that is released behind the player’s spacecraft and homes in on the enemy, but doesn’t continue to home in after that point; and standard missiles that only fire forward, but deal more damage.
Destroyed enemies can drop power-ups that coincide with the different firing modes, and the power-up changes colors to fit the next firing mode in line. If you wanna stick with, say, spread-shot as your main weapon but the power-up is set to a different firing mode, you’ll have to avoid it until it’s the right color – red for the spread-shot, blue for the beam that only fires forward, green for the sweep-beam that leans wherever you move your ship. Sub-weapons are treated the same way, with letters on the power-up instead of colors. Players are also given a limited number of bombs to activate whenever things get too difficult; they’re best used when the game starts looking like a bullet hell shooter, and it becomes near-impossible to avoid being hit.
There are seven levels in total, and they can all be played from beginning-to-end in the standard arcade mode, individually in the Score Attack mode, or in a Boss Rush mode that lets players choose which level to start from but tasks them with playing all the way through the seventh level. The levels, ranging from a battle on the sea to an asteroid field, are interesting but small and mostly unimpressive, from both a technical and artistic standpoint. Enemy designs are very generic and the bosses just aren’t anything special; I remember a large robot crab as a sub-boss and a robot face as the final boss, but the rest of it isn’t memorable enough to be of note.
The game is very, very difficult, mostly because the spacecraft’s movement feels really sluggish, but it has seven difficulty levels. Unfortunately, there isn’t an option for infinite lives if you just wanna enjoy yourself; players can choose to have five lives maximum with three continues standard, but it takes a lot of experience to play through all seven levels of Raiden III on anything above Very Easy difficulty mode, unless you’re a genre veteran. I found the game most enjoyable in small doses, specifically in the Score Attack mode. Just pick one level and play through it on a low difficulty, then keep moving up difficulties to test your boundaries and improve.
The game was originally displayed on a vertical monitor in arcades, so the game emulates that vertical style on standard or widescreen displays by cutting off the sides – around a third of the screen is black during regular play. Raiden III features a vertical display mode for players who want a more authentic experience, but turning a wide-screen TV or monitor on its side just to enjoy this one game isn’t something most players (myself included) will have interest in. Genre fanatics might welcome this experience, though, so that’s a plus. Controls are customizable, and I found that setting R1 as the firing button and using the analog stick for movement was most comfortable. There is a two-player co-op mode, but the PS2 Classics emulator on PS3 doesn’t support multiplayer so I couldn’t try it out.
The game’s upbeat techno music suits the game, but there are only a few tracks, none of which is exceptional and gets repetitive very quickly. As an arcade port, Raiden III originally ran on weaker hardware than the PS2, and it shows. The game just isn’t very impressive, even compared to some of the better PS1 scrolling-shooters.
Raiden III is inoffensively mediocre. It’s nothing special, but it’s not necessarily bad. Anyone interested in a vertical-scrolling shooter could do much better than this, but fans of the genre might wanna give it a go.