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Article #2 (16 is last):
From: xx004@cleveland.Freenet.Edu (Atari SIG)
Subject: JAGUAR: Raiden
Reply-To: xx004@cleveland.Freenet.Edu (Atari SIG)
Date: Sun Feb 27 15:35:24 1994


Review of Rai-Den for Jaguar
     by Ethan Larson

Hardware: Jaguar and one controller. (two controllers for two player)
Price   : $49.95 list price
Type    : Vertical Scrolling Shoot Game

     Those of you who have been looking for a good port of this excellent
arcade shoot-'em-up need look no further.  Aside from minor details, this
is a replica of the arcade machine.
     Rai-Den is a relatively simple game : blow away anything that moves
(except for the cows down on the ground).  The player flies a jet fighter
thorugh a series of levels, eight to be exact, shooting everything in sight.
At the end of each level is a "Big Bad Guy", who takes a lot of damage before
dying.  Some of them even change their attack patterns as they take damage.
For instance, the BBG (Big Bad Guy) on Level 3 first attacks with a 2x4 bank
of guns.  After blowing those away, the entire top of the BBG explodes,
revealing 5 spead fire guns beneath.  After destroying these, a larger
spread gun appears, and proceeds to shoot bullets all over the screen.
After hosing on him some more, he finally explodes, ending the level.
The ultimate goal of the game is to survive all eight levels, and hose the
Big BIG HUGE Bad Terrible Guy at the end of Level 8.
     Each level consists of a long flight through heavily fortified enemy
territory.  Enemy defences include ground emplacements, tanks (lots of
these) of various types, jets and planes of various types, and a few other
oddities.  The BBG's are all large machines of some sort or another, and
most of them go through several transforations as you continue to pummel
them.  As you go, there are medals and bonus items strewn in your path.  At
the end of a level, the medals you've collected are multiplied by the bombs
you have left, and then by 1000.  This is the end of level bonus.  My best
so far has been 6 bombs, 20 medals on level 3.  The problem is that free
fighters come at 150,000, 400,000, and every 400,000 after that.  So use
your bombs to live, or save them for points for more fighters to live.
The problem is if you die, you lose excess bombs, and your medal count
goes to zero.  This adds a nice greed element to the game.
     Fortunately, the game provides power-ups.  These are in the form of
floating sqares that the player must chase down to catch.  They are red or
blue front-firing shots, or green or yellow missles.  The red gun speads
its power out, covering the screen when fully charged up.  The blue gun
concentrates its power straight forward.  The yellow missles are direct fire
and unguided, while the green are guided and home in on the closest target.
The yellow missles do more damage, however.  If you have red shots, and pick
up blue, you switch to the blue gun, at the same power level.  Same goes for
the missles : if you pick up the color you don't have, you switch missle
types, and stay at the same power.  Also, you have Nuclear Bombs.  These
create a huge (1/4 the screen) explosion that lasts about 5 seconds.  The
explosion damages anything in it (excluding the player) and stops enemy
bullets from passing through.  These are in short supply.  Each player ship
starts with three, and only about two extras are available per level.  There
are twice as many power-ups in a two player game, with the same amount of
enemies.  If you die, you lose all of your firepower, except for a few
merciful squares that are released from your exploding fighter.  This
way, if you die, you aren't reduced to the poot blaster.
     Those of you familiar with the arcade machine will want to know what
details are different.  Some of the enemy firing patterns are different, for
example, the square tank on Level 1 with the quad-rotating guns that shoots
the spray of bullets in the arcade, only shoots a spiral on the Jag.  The
arcade machine allowed the players to "sweep" the screen from left to right
to reveal more of the terrain below.  In the arcade, if you moved all the
way across the screen, it took a few seconds for the side scrolling to catch
up with you.  On the Jag, the screen only scrolls when you are moving left
or right.  However, if you move from the far right to the far left, it
doesn't cover the whole layout.  You must continue to push left to continue
scrolling the screen.  Unfortunately, this means an enemy off the side could
run into you while doing this.  This is my biggest complaint about this
cartridge.  After playing a while you will memorize the postions of the
enemies, and this will be less of a problem.  The time delay between levels
is about 10 seconds too long, and it seems as if the game will never
continue.  The music seems to use the same melodies, but the instrumentation
is that of a rather cheesy synthesiser.  Also, the blue gun is more
effective against BBG's than in the arcade.
     As for the nice details they remembered, there are many.  The shadows
of objects in the air are not just black; They are a half-tone reduction of
the terrain beneath them.  Two shadows together make a darker one.  Also,
when your ship reaches a certain level of power-up, it transforms into a
larger ship.  The transformation is done in several frames of animation, as
it should.  Those little towers that blew up in the arcade as a series of
explosions act the same way on the Jag.  I personally could never resist
destroying those in the arcade because the explosion was so neat.  You can
hit a button on the Player 2 controller, and play the blue ship in a one
player game.  This is nice, so you are not forced to get accustomed to
playing red, when one person must play blue in a 2 player game.  One other
small detail they remembered is that when you die, your fighter explodes
into about 30 pieces that radiate and damage anything they hit (except
your fellow fighter pilot).
     The difficulty level of the game is adjustable, since you can determine
how many credits to use.  Recently I used several credits to see what
happens if you finish all 8 levels (I can't get past Level 7 with just one
credit).  It gives you a 1,000,000 point bonus, and sends you back to level
1.  This would be a bummer, but the enemy shot speed increases.  Now you are
challenged to complete the 8 levels again, but now they are much more
difficult.  For the player who only uses one credit, this game should offer
endless challenge.  Nice that the high scores are retained in the
cartridge's memory.
    Overall, this game has excellent gameplay, graphics nearly identical to
the arcade machine, good sound effects, and plenty of challenge.  Its weak
points are the music and the side-to-side screen scrolling system.  On IG's
rating scale of one to ten, Jaguar Rai-Den gets an 8.

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