I remember seeing the classic Raiden games in the arcades when I was a teenager, and was past excited when the first two came home on the original PlayStation where I played them for hours on end. With the other sequels being released in arcades or other platforms I didn’t have access to, the Raiden franchise faded away to never return it seemed. Now nearly two decades later, I learned the series is still going strong and that I’m able to play its latest sequel, Raiden V. I’m glad to say the game hasn’t missed a beat with simple but awesome graphics, and multiple levels of difficulty that allows anyone to give it a shot and have fun.
It’s hard to believe Raiden V is the first new series entry in nearly a decade, and is also an Xbox One exclusive to boot. As with most shooters, there’s not much in the way of a story as you’re fighting off enemies that are trying to destroy the planet or universe or whatever. All players will care about is going out there and shooting up everything that moves. After you’ve selected from three different ships with various speed, firepower and shield differences, you’ll then be able to select what type of shots the red, blue and purple power up will give you as you play. For example, you can choose a single straight shot or a wide shot for the red power up, then a single laser or multiple lasers for the blue one, followed by the infamous homing/curling laser for the purple one or cross firing multiple shots. I love how there’s all sorts of different combinations you can try which helps keep things from just being another ho-hum shooter.
While you’re out there taking on enemies, there’s a neat Flash Shot scoring system that rewards bold players with score multipliers the faster they take down enemies. There’s also a weird but interesting thing here called the Cheer system, where other online players’ stats appear on your screen and you can cheer them on by pressing a button which in turn fills a special attack bar for you to use. Sadly I haven’t seen this work out for me just yet, but I’m sure it’ll come around for me to use soon enough. There’s also a few other things worth mentioning that may make or break the game for some.
As I mentioned earlier, the graphics are fairly simple but awesome to me. They look like something from a PlayStation 2 or Dreamcast title, but they serve their purpose well, especially with things moving at 60fps in high definition. Another part of the visuals some may not like is the fact the main screen is a narrow vertical strip that’s sandwiched by HUDs on the sides to fill up the rest of the screen. I didn’t have much of a problem with it as I’m used to playing old school shooters with a narrow screen, but others may not care for it. This is also strictly a single player game which is an odd choice for a shooter title. So those looking for local or online co-op are out of luck here.
Then there’s the sounds in which I enjoyed the typical but catchy action music that fits perfectly here, but there’s also a ton of dialogue spoken by a man and woman who relay information to you from headquarters. Normally games would do things like this in short bursts, but here the two of them constantly talk as you make your way through each stage. It also doesn’t help that the voice acting isn’t great and that script was most likely translated poorly, making things even worse. While I actually like the constant talking a little bit, as it makes you feel as though you’re playing online with some people, it can be a distraction for some who play, but you can always turn the voice volume down or off altogether in the options. Speaking of which, the best thing I like about this game is the difficulty settings that go from very easy for those who just want to shoot stuff without dying every two seconds, to super hard where hardcore shooter fans can get their bullet hell fix.
Despite some quirky decisions and gameplay choices, I had a blast playing Raiden V. One last thing to mention that might turn some away is its asking price of $50, which is a bit steep for a title that can be beaten in an hour or so. But if you love shoot-em-ups and don’t mind the price tag, this is the game for you. Others will want to wait for a price drop and get in on the cheesy but awesome fun to be had here.