Top-down scrolling shooters were once a staple of video arcades and at one time, as plentiful as fighting games. While the genre itself has spiraled downward into nichedom, Success Corporation has taken upon the task of faithfully porting all three Raiden arcade games onto a single disc simply titled 'Raiden Fighters Aces' for the Xbox 360.
The new generation of gamers willing to try their hand or those who missed out like myself will find this old school title for a low price of $19.99.
The story is almost absent but people don't play this kind of game for plot. They test their wit and the ability to survive an onslaught of bullets and kamikaze craft.
All three Raiden games play almost the same with few minor differences. Hybrid mode was added in the second game and returns in the third. An assortment of craft are available each with their own unique stats and weapons. Throughout the levels, players can pickup weapon powerups, slave ships and bombs to enhance their arsenal.
Visuals run at a smooth framerate with no noticeable slowdown thanks to the finesse of the Xbox 360 hardware. Music is based on cheesy techno tracks but perfectly suitable for this type of game. In fact, I would dare say you'll be spending most of your efforts on gameplay that visuals and audio come secondary.
In terms of additions, the game now features online leaderboards and a replay save option. The lack of Xbox Live co-op is disappointing but a second player can still join in the chaos in local play.
Where I'm Coming From
I grew up playing top-down scrolling shooters like 1942 at the arcades and having the chance to play the entire Raiden franchise on one disc is fantastic. I won't say that I am awesome gamer in this specific genre but it's certainly addicting!
What I Compared it to
Ikaruga is probably the first shooter to come to mind for 21st century gamers that enjoy this particular genre. Compared to it, the audio and visuals of Raiden Aces are dated but the underlying gameplay structure is similar.
What I Liked
The game may not feature cutting edge visuals or sound but still requires a high degree of dexterity at normal difficulty and above. Two player co-op is a blast.
What I Didn't Like
The controls feel a bit sluggish with the analog stick and somewhat imprecise with the digital pad. For those seeking the absolute best control, a stick controller used in fighting games is recommended.
Each of the three Raiden games can be busted through in less than an hour per game. Most players won't have troubles completing the trio if you decide to set the difficulty to the easiest setting. While not deep, there is enough in the way of different modes and achievements to keep shooters coming back for more.
Gamers that have a busy schedule in life but want to satiate their gaming fix will find Raiden Fighters Aces very accessible. Very much a twitch shooter, those seeking to test their eye-to-hand coordination will find this game challenging. Recommended for those who enjoy shooting games of yesteryear.