If you’re a shoot ’em up fan, chances are you’re already familiar with the Raiden series. If not, you ought to acquaint yourself, as they’re bloody good fun. After the rerelease of Raiden IV earlier this year it seems strange to go backwards, but here we are now with an enhanced and updated version of Raiden III to further entertain ourselves with. Is it as good as Raiden IV x Mikado Remix? Not quite. But for fans of the genre, Raiden III x Mikado Maniax is still worth its asking price.
As ever, while there’s a story here, you’ll probably not concern yourself with it. It’s something to do with Crystals invading Earth? Like any arcade shoot ’em up the focus here is on the action, and in true Raiden fashion it’s manic and a hell of a lot of fun. As the screen scrolls ever upwards, you’re in control of your ship. Avoiding enemy bullets is your primary objective, but you also need to launch your own assaults, if only to take down fearsome bosses.
Starting with a standard rapid firing weapon, you can upgrade it, giving it increased spread and firepower. Alternatively, you can tactically move into pick-ups to change your fire type, with both a powerful laser and a whip-like weapon also available. To further increase your assault options, there’s a variety of sub-weapons, too, including homing missiles. Throw in massively destructive bombs, and you have an arsenal typical of the genre, but varied enough nonetheless.
This may be a game close to 20 years old, but it still plays like a dream. It’s rewarding avoiding complex enemy bullet patterns while unleashing your own violent barrage, resulting in a colourful display of explosions. And those explosions look better than ever before, thanks to the carefully touched-up visuals. Some of the textures are a little blurry, sure, but this is a game that greatly benefits from an increased resolution, making it rather pretty to look at for the most part. It’s just a shame that at times there’s so much happening that it’s hard to spot a rogue bullet or two heading straight for your ship.
In terms of modes and stages, Raiden III x Mikado Maniax isn’t the most generous, but it’s not exactly light on content. Arcade mode is the main draw here, which challenges players to make their way through seven stages. A range of difficulty levels are on offer, and there are other settings to tweak, too. But even on its most lenient settings this is still a challenging experience.
In addition to arcade mode there are some additional modes to get stuck into, such as Boss Rush and Score Attack. For those who like competition, leaderboards also provide an incentive to master the game and its systems in order to score big and hit a top spot. There are some further options to spice up the gameplay as well, such as local co-op, and the option to play on your own but in control of two ships. Rounding things off is a wealth of wallpaper and soundtrack options to unlock via play.
Raiden III x Mikado Maniax isn’t the most content-laden shoot ’em up package, nor is it the best looking. It’s impossible to recommend it over its follow ups, which overall are simply better games. But despite all that, this is still a great shoot ’em up which has stood the test of time. And so, if you’ve already acquired the newer entries in the series but want yet more Raiden action, this will serve you well.