It's been a while, but it's time again for another exciting edition of "That should be on XBLA." This week, it's the arcade classic, Raiden (no, not that effeminate guy from MGS). If you've never played Raiden, then all you really need to know is that it's chock-full of shootery goodness. Read on to to discover the joy of Raiden.
Raiden is one of the most frenetic games of all time. It's a vertical scrolling shooter and, as such, many of its elements will be familiar to fans of the genre. You control a plane, you shoot at other planes (and tanks), you die, you drop bombs, you die, you kill bosses, you die, and, of course, you die. The formula is simple and it's an absolute blast to play. You shoot constantly, avoid projectiles, and do your best to upgrade your weapons -- upgrades that you lose if you die. Like most shooters of the '90's, death comes quick and often, especially in later levels. To top it all off, when things explode, they send particles everywhere -- particles that have a nasty habit of distracting you from oncoming bullets.
While the gameplay revolves around constantly shooting and dodging incoming fire, there is an underlying level of strategy. This strategy is presented through weapon choice. There are three weapons in Raiden (aside from the kill-everything-on-the-screen smart bombs). The weapons are bullets, the laser, and the homing laser. Each of these weapons has strengths and weaknesses. The bullets spread across the whole screen, but are relatively weak. The laser is incredibly powerful, but has a very narrow field of fire. The homing laser -- introduced in Raiden II - focuses on one target and can also destroy peripheral targets, but it's weaker than both the laser and bullets. On top of this are the missiles, which come in two varieties: homing and power. This leaves players with a choice to make. Do you compliment a weaker weapon with powerful, straight firing missiles, or use homing missiles to make sure nothing sneaks through the line of fire?
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