Of all the arcade shooters released throughout the late 80s and early 90s, Seibu Kaihatsu's Raiden was one of the best. It wasn't the best looking, best playing, or anywhere near the most popular of the crop, but it featured a wholly addictive experience that kept you pumping in the quarters from beginning to end. Now, thanks to Com2uS, Raiden is available for mobile phones. Is that a good thing? Well, yes and no. Compared to other mobile shooters, Raiden offers solid scrolling-shooter gameplay, as well as 45 available levels to shoot through--far more than you might typically expect from this type of game. However, if you were a fan of the original arcade game, you may find yourself a bit disappointed by some of the changes and omissions that were made to make Raiden suitable for mobile play.
In Raiden, you control a red ship that can arm itself with a few different types of weapons. You begin with the game's equivalent of a peashooter and gain colored power-ups as you continue to play. Eventually, you can upgrade your wimpy weapon into a progressively more powerful spread gun, or switch over to a laser that also becomes increasingly powerful as you boost it up. You can also gain two types of missile power-ups: straight-shot missiles and heat seekers. The primary strategy in the game is to get the best balance of weapons you can, so generally you want polar opposites on guns and missiles. If you have the straight-shooting laser, hook up the heat seekers to nail enemies coming from off directions; if you're using the spread gun, grab the straight-shooting missiles to punch whatever's in front of you right up the gut. You also have a limited supply of weapons of mass destruction, which you can use to clear the screen if things get too hot.
In most ways, this version of Raiden is a solid translation of the original. Most, if not all, of the original enemy ships are here, and most of the bosses feature basic versions of the same attacks found in the arcade game. However, there are some key differences. For starters, your weapons upgrade much quicker in this version. In the original, you would have to get around six or seven power-ups in order to max out your weapons, and here you'll only need three. Also, because the frame rate has been lowered significantly for mobile purposes, it's a lot easier to react to incoming fire, since it doesn't move quite as quickly as before. Granted, your ship doesn't move quite as fast either, but still fast enough to dodge the occasionally plodding bullets that come your way.
Graphically, the Series 60 Java version of Raiden looks pretty much like what you would expect a mobile port of Raiden to look like. The ships aren't super detailed, but they maintain the look and feel of the originals pretty nicely. Similarly, the game's stages are all pretty well modeled after the original game's layouts and most of the same scenery is present. Again, the frame rate is really the only graphical annoyance here, though it is, at the very least, steady throughout the game. The only audio the game has to offer is a badly looped snippet of the first stage's music that never, ever changes. The tune itself is OK, but it hitches noticeably when the loop begins, and it does get extremely irritating after about the umpteenth time.
Overall, Raiden makes for some good mobile gaming. It's a little disappointing that no form of the original game's multiplayer component made it into this one--even a pass-and-play methodology would have been a nice addition. Still, the gameplay here is just as solid as it should be, and for mobile shooter fans, that's about all you could ask for.