- Publisher: Valcon Games
- Developer: Gulti
- ESRB Rating: “E” for Everyone
- Genre: Shoot ‘Em Up
- Pros: Three great shmups for $20; tons of options; very accessible
- Cons: Graphics won’t wow you; screen gets pretty crowded in co-op
Raiden Fighters Aces features three classic Raiden Fighters games on one disc. They are Raiden Fighters 1, RF 2, and RF Jet. All three games play pretty similarly, although Jet adds a few new bells and whistles that make it slightly more interesting overall. All three are crazy fun, though.
The games only take between 10 and 16 minutes to play all the way through, which means that for quick games when you don’t have a lot of time or you want to make just one more run at a high score these games are perfect.
You can play the games in local co-op, and it is a blast. The screen gets pretty crowded and it can be hard to see, but it is amazingly fun anyway. There is no online play, but there are leaderboards as well as an option to share videos of your best games.
The best part about this package, however, is that there are a ton of options so you can play the game however you want. Each game has a normal arcade mode, score attack, and practice, and you can also play a Boss Rush (where you fight through all of the bosses in a row) and an Expert mode (enemies scatter shrapnel). In each of these modes you can also select one of 7 difficulty modes, which range from practice (enemies don’t ever shoot back) to very hard (crazy bullet hell). You can also select your number of credits, all the way from just 1 on up to Free Play.
The three games themselves are pretty standard shmups. Enemies appear onscreen and you shoot them. Power ups then pop out of exploded enemies that you can collect to upgrade your plane with better lasers or missiles or even a pair of extra wingman planes that greatly increase the number of bullets you can spew out. RF Jet mixes things up a bit by introducing special medals (all three games have medals you can collect) that will follow your ship around and collect other medals to greatly increase your score. This adds a layer of depth that the other two games don’t really have.
Graphics and Sound
This is more about being arcade perfect than having pretty visuals, and in that way Raiden Fighters Aces succeeds. At default settings the game only takes up about half of the screen (with borders on the left and right) because in the arcade the screens for these games are oriented vertically instead of horizontally. If you are playing on a widescreen monitor or TV and turn it 90 degrees to match the arcade aspect ratio you can set it in the game to this new orientation so that the game actually fills the entire screen. It is kind of a drastic step, and the game is perfectly playable in the default mode, but it is nice that the option was included. Other options include changing the framerate between 54 and 60 FPS, emulating scanlines (so it looks like an old CRT arcade monitor), and even changing the screen color/tone with different filters. It is just plain crazy the amount of options this game offers to not only play how you want it to but look how you want as well.
The sound is typical 90’s arcade. Bad voice overs. Cheesy synthesized music. Repetitive sound effects. But it is 100% authentic and true to the era, and we wouldn’t want it any other way.
Also, and this is purely speculation, but I would suggest picking it up ASAP because it might be hard to find down the road. Not guaranteeing it will be, but based on the fact it is from a small publisher, is a niche genre, and not every store is carrying it (and no GameStop within 100 miles of me have ever even had a copy …), it might disappear just as quickly and suddenly as it appeared. Will it be “the rarez” and worth a lot of money? Probably not, but if you actually want to play it I’d pick it up if you see it.