Tuesday, 13 May 2008

Raiden Fighters Aces

My decision to get GTA IV for the PS3 has meant that it has been a quiet few months for my 360. Indeed, I have oddly enough bought just 4 games for it this year - Burnout Paradise, iMAS: Live For You, Operation Darkness and Raiden Fighters Aces.

With GTA IV all wrapped up and, despite having both Okami and Osouji Sentai Clean Keeper (more on that later hopefully) yet to start and making up my current Wii backlog, I've been drawn back to Aces lately, mainly finishing off a few more Achievements, and in doing so have found myself falling in love with the 3 titles contained on the disk. Not an abnormal thing I suppose, considering that all things shmup instantly strike a chord with me, but, Virtual Console aside, it's been a while since I've played such an old-school shooter.

By way of a brief introduction, Raiden Fighters Aces was released exclusively for the 360 in Japan on the 27th March this year and contains Raiden Fighters 1 & 2 aswell as the third in the series, Raiden Fighters Jet.
Gameplay wise, it's not so much Bullet Hell as it is retro. You have 3 games here with more in common with the like of 1942 and 1943 than ESPgaluda or Ibara.

The games move quickly, with relatively little in the way of power ups (at least not in the same vein as the previously mentioned Cave titles) and the pulsing music helps to keep things going.

In my eyes, the first title is the best of the three, with the second being similar but a bit more frenzied, and Jet being a little easier and with a different scoring system and level progression but at heart is still very much a Raiden title.
Boss Rush mode is available in each of the three games and provides a welcome challenge.

As mentioned at the start of the post, the achievements have kept me coming back to this. Besides the standard "complete each game" task, you also get tasked with one-crediting and completing Boss Rush modes for each game. Add to this score based achievements and a few hidden ones (mostly concerned with how long you play the game for, from one hour to a massive 96!) and there is definitely a lot of replay value here.

In the end, despite a strong showing of shmups (Senko no Ronde, Shikigami no Shiro III, Ikaruga, Triggerheart Exelica) and hardcore, niche Japanese titles (iDOLMASTER and Live For You), Raiden Fighters Aces stands out among the crowd and is a must buy for fans of the game or shooter fans in general.
With the promise of versions of Cave titles Ketsui and DoDonPachi coming at some point in the near future, the 360 is the current gen's console of choice for shmups and Aces is one of the highlights.

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