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 Post subject: The Raiden Project (PlayStation)
PostPosted: Mon Jul 27, 2015 8:03 pm 

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Location: Autobot City, Sugiura Base
Continuing with the Raiden reviews as we fly our way to Raiden V, here's a review of The Raiden Project on the PlayStation.

Keep in mind that this is could be a short review since the gameplay of both Raiden and Raiden II has been already reviewed and can be visited here...

Raiden - viewtopic.php?f=10&t=54215
Raiden II - viewtopic.php?f=10&t=54004


Me, like all of you we grow up playing the Raiden series (and i didn't said "grew" since the series is growing along with us as it continues up to this day), but the surely grew playing both Raiden and Raiden II, arcade classics that became part of our lives as shmuppers and gamers, and the nostalgia is in the air when we remember or talk about this games. Probably this nostalgia made you pick The Raiden Project in 1995 when it came out on the PlayStation, after all the Raiden Trad's, Super Raiden and every 16-bit adaptations we finally rejoice when we discover that the authentic arcade perfect versions of Raiden and Raiden II are finally arriving to the PlayStation console. Yeah, you'd surely think about the dream of playing the same games you played on your school years was finally realized, after all the PS was the next generation console (back then) and after the SNES, Genesis and Atari Jaguar we can only expect arcade perfection. If you've played this compilation before you'll probably agree on what i'm gonna say during this review, but for those who haven't played it, better start reading.

Along with the main feature of playing both Raiden and Raiden II, the game has other features for the player, starting with the switching of the R-Type-like start back after losing a life like in the TurboGrafx, Genesis and FM Towns versions. Apparently, in Japan they added this feature to increase the challenge (kinda like what Tecmo did with the US release of Ninja Gaiden III where they removed the infinite continues and gave the player limited continues due to the demand of harder games), there's also a button configuration where the player can adjust the button functions and adding an "Rapid Fire" option which comes in handy when you're using the Vulcan because we all remember the button mashing that weapon was, and an autofire feature is well recieved. You can also adjust the difficulty and the number of lives and credits you want to recieve for your gameplay. During the gameplay you can switch from Raiden to Raiden II and viceversa by pressing select when you pause the game, obviously without the need of reseting the console, In Raiden II you can decide if you and your friend want to start the game with the red or the yellow bombs. The only flaws that i heard about is the slowdown when the games are played in Dual Play (2 player mode), and the fact that Raiden II is a direct port of the PC version due to the inavailability of the original arcade due to Seibu Kaihatsu's encryption, which results on the abscence of the admirable introduction.

While graphically, the games are as faithful as their coin-op counterparts, however due to the screen size of the original arcade, some changes were made; while the default one is the "Arcade" which it ocuppies part of the screen, leaving black space on the sides due to the aspect ratio. Also, the graphics in this screen are also slightly stretched at the point the game gives you the option of changing the position of the score and the bomb stock because they'll might be offscreen, while the Arcade boards of Raiden and Raiden II run at some off-spec 54Hz refresh rates, the PS1 version runs at 60Hz, resulting in a constant slight pausing on the scrolling screen. Along with this default screen option there's also the "Panorama" version which stretches covering the whole screen, the "Horizontal" flips the screen in 90°, but curiously this flipped screen retains the arcade accuracy on the screen resolution and the position of the score and bomb stock, users of widescreen TV's and monitors can turn their sets vertical to play the games on their proper arcade ratio, although doing this can damage their screens. This new changes are better known on present day shmup community as "Yoko" and "Tate" on titles as DoDonPachi Saidaioujou and Triggerheart Exelica Enhanced.

In the main menu screen we get the first "full 3D" models of the Raiden ships and the stage 1 bosses of Raiden II, as we saw the Fighting Thunder's emerging victorious from their first battle. Curiously the aircraft carrier and the laser effects are bitmaps based on the game sprites rather than CG rendered, which looks kinda odd today, but back then in 1995 it was a novelty since the 3D graphics were the "New Frontier" in the world of gaming, and all the 32 and 64 bit consoles begain their first incursions in this unexplored region of videogame graphics, where the traditional 2D sprites will be replaced with polygonal shapes.

With an arcade-perfect conversion anyone expects to hear the same music of the original arcade, but unfortunately that doesn't happen on The Raiden Project, the most clear instance of that is with Raiden, where the music sounds "MIDI-fied" instead of being as faithful as the real arcade game, my best and honest description is that the MIDI-esque arrangement is between the Arcade and the Sega Genesis in terms of synthetization and don't tell me there was console limitations, since the PlayStation has the potential of arcade perfection (RayStorm, DonPachi and Sonic Wings Limited are great examples) and not to mention it was CD based, if an old 16-bit CD enhanced game like Super Darius on the PC Engine CD was capable of play the geniune arcade music, something newer like the PlayStation could do that by far. At least the original sound effects made their way to this compilation. There's also the option of replace this soundtrack with "Remixes" which compensate this flaw a little bit, but they are in my opinion the worst CD arrangements i have ever heard because they sound ever more like MIDI files than the "Original" versions does, and when i say "the worst arrangement" i said it with evidence and proof based on other CD-arranged music ports of Raiden. Compare that with Raiden Trad on the FM Towns or Super Raiden on the PC Engine CD, their CD quality is way better than the PlayStation counterpart. I think Seibu Kaihatsu should consider to reuse the awesome FM Towns version of the soundtrack, since the non-japanese Raiden fans were unable to enjoy that version, a great opportunity wasted in my opinion (example of that is with After Burner III on the Sega CD where Sega used the music from the FM Towns version of After Burner II). If the original music from Raiden was poorly rendered, in Raiden II is even worse, what a waste of arcade-perfect potential wasted (in my honest opinion).

While the intention of bringing the arcade experience is always well recieved, Seibu Kaihatsu made a few mistakes in the process and not to mention the encryption issue of Raiden II, we have a nice two-in-one pack of old school shooting that still lives up to this day.
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