Don’t call it a comeback, because to some, the Raiden series has never left. Maybe it’s a custom cabinet, an arcade in Shinjuku City, or just someone’s gaming PC, the series has staying power. While we’ve seen recent entries, MOSS has gone back to update and remix their prior games. Earlier this year we had the release of Raiden IV x MIKADO remix , and now after a short delay is Raiden III x MIKADO MANIAX . It’s oft-considered the weakest of the series, but it manages to be the best of the two MIKADO versions to release. I think that the updates, inclusions, and overall gameplay make it the best entry into the series.
Raiden III is a game I’ve finished many times since 2005, and this remaster is the perfect reason to return. Like the previous MIKADO remaster, this one boasts higher resolutions and a remixed soundtrack. I was surprised that unlike Raiden IV x MIKADO remix, this game somewhat supports ultrawide resolutions. The game is able to full screen, and only slightly stretches to fit. It otherwise only ports 4:3, 3:4, or 16:9 resolutions. It also has a degrees of rotation setting for those able to rotate their monitors. There’s not a whole that’s new, but it modernizes so that doesn’t takes away from the original.
This is a vertical shoot’em up or shmup that spans seven stages. Each stage is end-capped by a boss fight with a specific pattern and spray of bullet hell that you must carefully dodge while also returning fire in order to kill them. It’s a simple concept, and is the purest of arcade experiences. I found the game really ramped up its difficulty in Stage 3, and after that you leave Earth for space with some excellent artwork. This is a game you can finish in about 30 minutes, and so its price tag might be off-putting for some, but there’s a lot of value here. One of the reasons you keep playing, is to get better scores for either the local or world leaderboards.
The act of playing Raiden III x MIKADO MANIAX is easy to pick-up. You have the choice of weapons that determine their firing style. Gems colored red are the Vulcan cannons, machine guns that fire in a healthy spread. Blue gems give you auto-targeting ion plasma lazers. Then you have green gems which offer a free-fire proton plasma, that makes you feel like a Ghostbuster in a spaceship. Weapon choice is subjective, and can also be situational. There might be stages that are better suited for Vulcan cannons, others the proton plasma lazer. You can also just brute force it and make any weapon work, but you if you’re score chasing, optimizing for zero death is paramount. Along the way you’ll encounter different kinds of pick-ups such as additional bombs that are useful during boss fights, extra lives, bonus to points, or full power to your current weapon. Everything has a purpose and place, and just really feels focused.
I think one of the more interesting aspects is that there’s multiple ways to play the game just in the configuration of ships. For instance, you can play it single-player with just one ship. Or you can play it with a friend in local co-op where two ships are on screen. Or lastly, you can try your hand at double play which gives you two ships with one controller (also a unique control scheme to accommodate it). This mode is twice as hard, as lives and resources are shared, so you’re likely to die twice as fast. But the reward of this risk is that you do twice the damage, if you can manage it. It’s not something I’d recommend to newcomers, but veterans should definitely try their hand at it.
There’s several game modes, the first of which is normal mode that is the base arcade experience. There’s also a score attack mode that is exactly what you think. Lastly there’s a boss rush mode which throws all the bosses at you in a gauntlet of survival to reach the end and defeat all seven. Rest assured that while this game will seem too hard for some, a difficulty selection is available for you to find a skill level that matches your own, and works across all modes.
There are two leaderboards in the game, local ones that only you can see and compete against. Then there’s world leaderboards, which essentially houses its own mode with minimal settings to change. But you can still play in co-op or do double play, as there’s a leaderboard for that too. Seeing your name in a worldwide ranking is really exciting to see, and is a driver to do better.
This is the game where the fairies are introduced into the mainline series. When they appear, they can be killed or spared. If left alive, they will give the player a free bomb and bonus to your overall score. It’s a neat system where trigger discpline is important, else you ruin those chances for extra bombs and points.
If there’s a complaint to be made, is that the default and additional songs are too short. They often loop even in a single stage, thankfully they are all bangers. As you play more and more, you’ll unlock new background music (BGM) tracks to be used on any track of your choosing. You can make the game all your own with a soundtrack that largely deviates from where it started – it’s really clever, and fun to mess with. As I write this, I’ve got “Lightning Strikes -RYU Mix-” from MIKADO CLUB MIX in my head, an alternative version of the first stage’s theme. There’s many artists and bands that have contributed to the remixed soundtrack, to include Go Sato Band and Ryu, and keeps it from feeling stale.
Even though this is the predecessor to Raiden IV x MIKADO remix , this remaster comes after it, and it’s easy to see that MOSS has learned a lot and even made improvements where it needed to. While I like Raiden IV a lot, I gotta say that I like the simplicity and improvements of Raiden III x MIKADO MANIAX more, really enhancing Raiden III in great ways. Every game deserves a second chance, and Raiden III x MIKADO MANIAX is an approachable and awesome entry in the long-running series that is well-worth the price of admission.
A Steam code was provided by the publisher for review purposes