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Which game are you looking forward to the most?

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Game Profile
Xbox 360
Valcon Games
GENRE: Shooter
PLAYERS:   1-2
April 21, 2009

 Written by John Scalzo  on October 01, 2009

Review: There oen too many "S"'s in that title

The Raiden series of scrolling shooters never really caught on in America the way the Gradius games or the 194X franchise did. And yet, over the years, every entry in the Raiden series has been released on an American console, even after scrolling shooters became a niche genre. Every game, that is, except for the Raiden Fighters sub-series. Now, thanks to publisher Valcon Games, U.S. gamers will get the chance to give this shooter series a chance, and at $20 for the package, it is a good proposition indeed.

Raiden Fighters Aces collects all three games in the Raiden Fighters spinoff series: Raiden Fighters (first released in arcades in 1996), Raiden Fighters 2: Operation Hell Dive (1997) and Raiden Fighters Jet (1998). At their core, there's little to distinguish these games from any other overhead scrolling shooter out there. You take control of a futuristic fighting machine and you fly it over enemy territory taking out other places, tanks, turrets, battleships, giant boss machines and other assorted enemy types. While this commonality with other games in the genre is disappointing, the games adequately scratch that shooting itch fans of the genre demand.

The games feature the bright colors and art style typical of scrolling shooters from the late 90s. Exaggerated, but defined. Cartoonish, but realistic. Actually, the game's weaponry and enemy design seems to echo a futuristic version of 1943. As is also typical of Japanese arcade games from the late 90s, the game's translation has more than a few Engrish phrases sprinkled throughout. Even the title of the collection is a bit of a mouthful.

The action is fast, but between the bright colors and the multiple flashing enemies, the screen almost feels too busy at times. It's hard to follow the action at first. And yet, this craziness gives way to clarity the longer the game is played. The enemy patterns stand out and you can better focus on the abilities of your ship's weaponry to better coordinate an attack. The three games have plenty of those "shooter zen moments" where everything comes together and just feels right.

Bottom Line
At $20, Raiden Fighters Aces is a good collection of three classic scrolling shooters and fans of the genre will find a lot to like at a low price. And with the addition of multiple difficulty levels and a Boss Rush mode, there is plenty of replay after you finish the main campaign of each title. And at $6.33 a game, Raiden Fighters Aces is a great deal when compared to similar XBLA titles that weigh in at 800 Microsoft Points ($10) or more for just one game.

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