Title: Raiden III x Mikado Maniax
Release Date: June 6, 2023
Reviewed On: PS5
The Raiden shmup series rose to fame against some of the more prominent names in the genre. However, I feel like its Western popularity has grown thanks to recent ports and newer entries on modern platforms. Although Raiden III initially launched in 2005, we are getting an enhanced version with the release of Raiden III x Mikado Maniax.
The base version of Raiden III has become a textbook example of retro shmups in a modern space. The game never attempted to add significant changes to the genre but instead focused on perfecting what fans already loved about these bullet hell games. Raiden III x Mikado Maniax delivers this challenging adventure amidst a fairly straightforward shmup experience.
Raiden III x Mikado Maniax doesn’t really have a story. I mean, it’s there if you look hard enough where the enemy known as Crystals have invaded Earth, and it’s now up to you to stop them. It’s nothing too exciting, but by the end of your fifth time dying in level 3, you’ll have built a reasonably strong hatred for the Crystals.
If you’ve played the original Raiden III, you’ll recognize many of the set pieces, bullet patterns, and enemies. Honestly, this is pretty much the same game you remember playing as a kid. With this in mind, I really wish the devs included a remix mode that changed these aspects of gameplay. This would allow returning fans the chance to memorize new enemy movements and bullet patterns.
That said, Raiden III x Mikado Maniax has a much-improved aspect ratio, which makes it loyal to the original arcade release. Further, the colors and overall presentation have received a few touch-ups that display the action clearly. There are many moving parts to these levels, and although the PS2 release was enjoyable, this version deserves the definitive title.
So what makes Raiden III x Mikado Maniax different? Well, that’s found in the customization options, where you can choose from various backgrounds and customize the music. This soundtrack is an absolute powerhouse of some great music, so it’s a nice option to go in and play your favorites during levels. Each time you complete a run, even if you get a Game Over, you’ll unlock some new background music or another wallpaper. It’s a nice touch to encourage you to jump back in and play more.
Further, once you complete the game, you can replay any of the stages and choose your starter weapon. The weapons, in general, are interesting as it’s clear that specific weapon types do better than others, depending on the situation. This is learned with practice, but I never liked how there were two laser-type weapons. Typically there’s only one, but here you have a standard spread shot, a laser that shoots straight, and one that can be angled depending on your direction. Each weapon can be upgraded with power-ups, but I just enjoy more variety.
Other game modes include Score Attack and Boss Rush, which unlock after you’ve completed the game. It creates room for more ways to get on the leaderboards and competes against worldwide players. There’s also local co-op, which is always a good time.
I will say that Raiden III x Mikado Maniax is a very fun and challenging shmup. It’s somewhat user-friendly as you gradually die less on bosses or have a large pool of bombs because you don’t need to use them. Still, it gets significantly difficult across the seven stages, but multiple difficulty levels give you an understanding of enemy patterns while also testing your skills.
Raiden III x Mikado Maniax is a retro shoot ’em up lovers’ dream. It carries all the systems and mechanics of a classic entry in this genre, all on modern platforms. I would have loved a remixed version included on this release, but the added unlockable and improved aspect ratio make this release one to own for genre enthusiasts.
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