Friday, September 23, 2011

Super Raiden (PC Engine CD)

Checkpoints ON
1 Difficulty level
10 Stages (loopable)
Ship speed fixed
- - - - - - -
Developed by Seibu Kaihatsu
Published by Hudson Soft in 1992

Following the experience with the FM Towns port, I felt it wouldn't be too bad to seize the momentum and revisit the PC Engine CD release of Super Raiden. I also wanted to compare the difficulty between them, because in my mind I always felt that Super Raiden was tied with the SNES port as being the easiest rendition of Raiden on a home console. It took me a few days to recollect some of the related intricacies, but eventually I suceeded in surpassing my previous high score in 32%. Having renewed my awareness on the game, the first conclusion I can draw is that Super Raiden is one of the most fun home ports available - besides being leagues away from the difficulty of other versions it also comes with two brand-new very cool extra stages.

Even when comparing only the eight original levels present both here and in the HuCard version, it's quite clear that Super Raiden is a tad easier than its base mold (less and slower bullets). Hudson Soft reserved the well-known, expected challenge for the new stages, with more aggressive snipers and faster bullets everywhere, all of this while keeping the same atmosphere all Raiden fans love about the first game in the series. It's a much better treatment than the one that was given, for instance, to the "beefed up" CD port of Zero Wing - the extra stages in that game just failed to capture the excellence of the original material.

Opening screen for Super Raiden

With that said, aside from the addition of the new stages the best improvement this version has is the awesome CD-quality rearranged soundtrack, a well deserved step-up from the rather weak music of the HuCard port. It's got a very particular groove, quite different from all other arranged BGMs available in other CD-based ports (PS1 and FM Towns). Graphics up to the 8th stage mirror the ones found on the HuCard, and the game mechanics remain exactly the same: vulcan shot (red) and laser shot (blue) combined with straight (M) or homing (H) missiles, with bombs (B) available for delayed but powerful destructive blasts; medals collected × bomb stock × 1.000 is the bonus you get at the end of a level; there's no limit to how many bombs you can stock, even though the maximum shown is 9; all surplus power-ups are worth 5.000 points; hidden fairies are worth 10.000 points and a batch of extra power-ups if you die; score-based extends are given with 100.000, 500.000 and then for every 500.000 points afterwards; 1UPs will appear randomly.

I'm sure everybody will agree that the original Raiden is a hard game. Some people won't have the endurance to see it to the end, but if format isn't a problem, a Turbo Duo is available and they're still in the mood to play it, my advice for everyone is to try Super Raiden. Sure it has checkpoints, but dealing with the game as a whole is considerably easier than, let's say, trying to suceed in the Mega Drive port or even the HuCard version itself, with one condition: do not use the laser weapon (if you do, the speed of enemy bullets will increase drastically). The extra levels are great and pump up the challenge as you reach the end, demanding a lot more from the player's dodging abilities without being overly cruel. There's even a real alien final boss, something that fills the void caused by the large tank boss of the regular Raiden – if I'm battling an alien race, why not have an alien final boss instead of another bloody super-armored tank?

Playing this game again gave me the chance to refine my strategies, especially on bosses. Now I refrain from bombing until the 6th boss, simply because those two tanks are plain evil. The 5th boss isn't that hard now - I stay on one side and avoid destroying both of his lateral wings, damaging his central body with the vulcan shot and homing missiles. The new final boss puts up an epic fight, but eventually I was able to take that beast down even if I died on him.

Die, aliens, die!
(courtesy of YouTube user AmazingRetro)

Just like in the HuCard version, here the game doesn't save or buffer high scores, but it's possible to pause right after dying if you want to take note of your score. Perhaps due to the inclusion of the extra stages and the fact that there's no limit to the bomb stock, the famous million point completion bonus is absent in Super Raiden. Another noteworthy gameplay aspect concerns the second loop. Contrary to what happens in other loopable ports, here the increase in difficulty is minimal, almost negligible.

The first death in my new best run happened in stage 2-9 (believe it or not, I was rather sleepy and did a stupid mistake). It was really tough to recover then, and my credit ended in stage 2-10.

And that's it, after so many Raiden ports I guess it's finally time to move on to Raiden II!


  1. Until I saw this post, I wasn't aware of a PCE CD version of Raiden. Sounds like it's the version to get if you're a PCE fan, eh? Anyway, I'll give it a try soon. Thanks for the heads up!

  2. You're welcome, Bryan.
    I agree with you, on the PCE this is the version to have if you must choose one of them.

  3. This is the best port of Raiden in my opinion. Really balanced in terms of difficulty, and almost all the graphics are intact from the arcade. I love the last 2 levels, and the soundtrack!

  4. Sorry for double posting. But the first form of the final boss is super easy. Destroy one arm-so it does not go into bullet hell mode-and throw a bomb on its body. While the bomb shields you from the bullets, go in and destroy the guns located on it. Don't worry; You can touch the body, and it won't kill you. After that, the remaining arm will continue shooting down, and you can stay above the boss and continue shooting the boss' weak point. -curryman

  5. That's the exactly way I deal with the last boss, curryman, tks for sharing. And I agree, the last 2 levels are awesome, graphically and musically!

  6. I like how you try to cover every single version of the same game. This approach gave us a complete and deep review about a game and its incarnations; something almost impossible in the regular fansites, 'cause they are always tied up to specific platforms.

  7. @ Agostinho Tks, buddy.
    Somewhere in the blog I mentioned I was trying to play all classic series in chronological order, meaning I couldn't try to play Raiden II until I had cleared all Raiden ports I have in my collection. That's why there are so many texts about Raiden here! hehehehe

  8. i recently discovered that the PC Engine HuCard version doesn't have rank (whereas the Mega Drive one has it) so now i wonder if the PC Engine CD version too doesn't have rank but i can't check this yet so, do you know about it?
    i already find the HuCard version just okay at best since it seriously lacking & / or failing (no rank; no parallax; no options menu; no score save; shitty SFX...) & i also already know that the CD version should be better with its two exclusive stages but no that better since i also already know (xD) that it has almost all the same flaws of the HuCard version...

    1. Hey ryz, from what I remember the CD version is even easier than the HuCard, so I guess the rank is missing as well, laser not-withstanding. :)

      In my opinion the two extra levels are totally worth it though.

    2. yeah i've noticed your impressions about the CD version beeing easier so it's probably rank-missing too
      + from what you said, the difficulty almost doesn't increase from 2nd loop which is kind of fail too...
      so yeah, those two extra stages must be the only thing which make this port worth a go (+ the kinda nice new music rendition even if its happy vibe doesn't fit a lot Raiden style...)

      i've also recently noticed that the what-at-1st-thought-it-was-a-great-port, the Jaguar one, has in fact an instant respawn system, like in the SNES version, which is disapointing. but still the Jag' version is way better than the crappy SNES port. have you already tried it?

    3. You do know that the world version of arcade Raiden has instant respawn, right? Checkpoints were a console thing, as far as I know of.

      I never played the Jaguar version (never got close to the console), but I heard it was a good conversion despite the lack of autofire. I'd probably need a turbo controller to play it!

    4. even if i already saw one or two times a Raiden cabinet during my childhood, i never played on it since back then, i was more into Vs. Fighting games when it comes to Arcade ;)
      i wasn't aware of this instant respawning on the world Arcade version but, what about the Japanese one?
      as for the Jag' version, as i said it's way better than the SNES one & other than this instant respawn thing, it's a great port with smooth animation; 2 player mode & i also like its soundtrack rendition

    5. Were you able to check a Japanese rom on MAME?
      Weirdly enough, information on the Japanese variation of Raiden is really scarce. That's why I always thought of Raiden as an instant-respawn shooter.

    6. other than some Neo Geo games (via Kawaks), i haven't emulated Arcade games yet
      but since the Japanese version of Kyūkyoku Tiger isn't exactly the same as Twin Cobra = the US version, maybe same thing happened for some aspects of Raiden... ? so we have to get this Japanese rom :)