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Raiden III
  opened by paleface at 03:52:00 10/20/05  
  last modified by paleface at 12:25:50 03/05/24  
  paleface [sys=PS2; cat=Shooter_Vert; reg=JPN]
The graphics are modern, but the gameplay is straight out of the classic Raiden shmups I & II (see entry 218). Is that a good thing?
First of all, while we can all pine for detailed 2D graphics, the 3D graphics here, despite sometimes generic backgrounds, are quite pretty, with lots of colorful lighting, fog, and explosion effects. Ship designs are nothing remarkable, but pretty much along the lines of the older Raiden games. There are horizontal and vertical screen modes, each of which has a "B" option that widens the screen somewhat to take advantage of home console resolution--but in horizontal mode this sort of stretches the image out, and in vertical it actually loses you some of your horizontal view, so I'd say stick with the slightly smaller "A" mode.
Now, while many newer shmups, even Raiden's own "Raiden Fighters" spinoff series (see entry 216), have glitzed themselves out with different selectable ships, fast movement speeds, huge arsenals of weapons, score combo gimmicks, and manic bullet swarms, Raiden III stays firmly entrenched in the early Raiden legacy: sparse, small, fast bullets, no ship variants, relatively slow movement speeds, and three main weapons that come from a single, mode-rotating powerup.
Good news for old-school Raiden fans. And I like the clarity and the break from the huge bullet swarms of all the "manic" shmups we get these days. But. I never did like the rotating powerups of the early Raidens, since you often end up just having to dodge around while the damn powerup cycles back to the mode you want. And I don't know if it's the same speed as the old Raidens, but the ship movement speed here feels ridiculously slow, and I don't see any speed powerups anywhere. I find myself sweeping soooo verrrry sloooooowly back and forth across the screen, trying to get to the enemy ships before they get bored and fly away. I don't mind a moderate pace in my shooters, but this is just too slow; it feels like treading water.
There are, however, a few updates lurking here and there. There's a scoring bonus that I don't remember from the earlier Raidens: the faster you kill a ship off after it enters the screen, the more points you get for it, up to x2--at least I think that's how it works. And they've taken out the auto-tracking lightning gun, replacing it with a nifty green wave beam that you can wiggle back and forth a little bit, sorta like the option beams in Gradius V (see entry 659). Very fun weapon, and quite useful given the slow movement speed. Gosh help you if you get stuck against fast incoming enemy waves while toting the narrow-straight-ahead blue laser beam, though.
The console port has added (I take it) score attack and boss rush modes--these have to be unlocked by beating stages in Normal mode, or something. There's also a Gallery that I guess has to be unlocked. You can save replays of your playthroughs per level--not that I'm good enough to have any worth saving. Load times from the CD (not a DVD) are quite brisk.
So. So. So. I don't know if I'm going to be able to reconcile myself to the sluggish movement speed. I really would have preferred a new Raiden Fighters. Hrrrm. Maybe I just need to stay away from that darn blue beam gun. It does the most straight-ahead concentrated damage, but the bosses actually go down surprisingly quickly anyway.
· Raiden DX (PS1)
· Raiden Fighters (PCB)
· Raiden Fighters 2 (PCB)
· Raiden Fighters Aces (X360)
· Raiden Fighters Jet (PCB)
· Raiden Fighters Jet 2000 (PCB)
· Raiden IV (X360)
· The Raiden Project (PS1)
· Raiden Project (PS1)

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