Top down shooters haven’t really been in the spotlight until recently. Back in the day they dominated the arcades with their addictive gameplay, and currently they have been showing up on the Xbox Live Arcade with 1942 and Ikaruga, amongst others. Now, we are lucky enough to get all three of one of the better series on one disc, with Raiden Fighters Aces.
The goal of Raiden Fighter Aces is that of every other top down shooter; destroy an insane amount of enemies that appear on the screen, then face-off against an enormous boss. So, if you are a fan of this type of shooter, then you will feel right at home. What sets Raiden apart from the others is the different mode types available.
On top of the three games that come in this package (Raiden Fighters 1 & 2, Raiden Fighters Jet); each game has three different game modes. You have Normal Mode which is your basic shooter experience. Secondly there is an Expert Mode; expect no mercy from the enemies. They will throw everything at you and hold nothing back. Then there is Boss Rush Mode which allows you to fight every boss on whichever Raiden game you are playing. For each title, there are seven different difficulty levels that range from Practice to Very Hard. If you are having a lot of trouble completing any part of the game, turn the difficulty to Practice. This is probably the best way to learn the enemy’s patterns. The best part about the Practice difficulty, though, is the fact the enemies won’t shoot at you. So this really does allow you to learn the different patterns of the enemies.
Just like in other shooters, you have a few different ships and weapons at your disposal to defeat your flying nemeses. You can even earn “slave” fighters that are smaller ships and flank you on either side and give you extra fire power. You can even play as a slave ship. When at the ship select screen hover over a ship then hold down the B-button, then hit the A-button. This will pick the slave ship for the main ship you are hovered over.
The controls are fairly simple. You move the ship with the left stick; the X-Button allows rapid fire, while the A-Button is the normal shoot button. If you hold down the A-Button, you can execute a charge attack that is very powerful, but leaves you vulnerable. Y allows you to rapidly drop bombs, and the B-Button allows you to drop just one. You can assign the rest of the buttons not being used. There are also a ton of screen appearance options that range from game speed to screen position. Some of the screen options I have never heard of, so if you are not sure of something, consult your manual…it’s full of helpful information. It even gives you some secret info.
The look and feel of the game feels like it did when these games released back in the ’90s. That’s not a bad thing, either. Obviously the gameplay wouldn’t change, but the look could have been updated to today’s standards. But no complaints here about the look…it’s old school all the way.
The only real complaint I have with Raiden Fighters is, just like all shooters, the game can get insane. With a ton of enemies on the screen all shooting at once, the game gets a tad bit difficult at times. If you make it to the last level of the game, and use all your lives, you can continue, but you start all the way back at the beginning of the last level. But, if you are a shooter fan and have played a lot of them, this will be no problem for you. If you haven’t played a lot of shooters, you will be happy to know that, on top of the practice difficulty, there is a training mode so you can hone you skills.
Raiden Fighters Aces is a shooter fans dream come true. It packs all three Raiden Fighters games in one disc and offers three different game modes for each title. Throw in a training mode and a ton of options and you get one incredible gaming experience. In fact, the only option you don’t get is the ability to play the game online, which I can’t get too upset about. It wouldn’t retain its old school feel if it added that mode. So, for twenty bucks, you get a lot of game and a lot of fun. If you are in a store and you see this game, you must buy it. If you let this one slip through your fingers, you probably won’t get another chance to buy it ever again.