With the Switch’s hardware limitations in mind, releasing 2007’s Raiden IV instead of the visually demanding Raiden V made a lot of sense. A retroactive re-release on PlayStation and Xbox formats in 2023 makes sense still, too. Europe never received the Xbox 360 version of Raiden IV, and enough time has now passed that the US and Japanese versions are expensive to own.
As the ‘MIKADO remix’ part of the title implies, this isn’t a straight conversion either. Japan’s Mikado Game Center has added arranged and live music, while two new stages and other modern features are included. Sadly, this doesn’t extend to Raiden V’s excellent ‘cheer’ system – which allows you to congratulate other players in real-time. Understandable, but still a bit of a shame.
We’ve played – and reviewed – dozens upon dozens of shooters over the years, and yet, it’s the Raiden series that we always find ourselves going back to. This is the franchise that rarely puts a foot wrong, able to deliver a satisfying experience whether you’re aiming for a one-credit run or just want a quick fix of shoot ’em-up action where the screen soon melts into a mixture of explosions and garishly coloured proton beams.
The tools and options at your disposal are resoundingly versatile. For those seeking a perfect run there are online replays, plus the ability to retry any previously beaten stage at will – should a single stage prove tricky to beat without dying. Online leaderboards help fuel the desire to improve. Then to aid those just looking for a good time, an extra continue is provided upon facing a Game Over. This means, in theory, you’ll eventually amass enough continues to be able to beat it.
Nor are you forced to restart from the beginning each time, with some modes giving the chance to restart the stage you failed on. This makes Raiden IV x MIKADO remix surprisingly manageable – even Light Arcade Mode can be beaten quite easily with minimal practice and familiarity.
Stages are short but high in number, so learning enemy patterns and placement isn’t an arduous task. Bosses take a minute or two to beat but never feel like bullet sponges, and the starting weapons – which you can choose between – all feel quite meaty from the outset, only becoming more powerful with each upgrade.
The two bonus rounds – involving collecting fairies, and destroying asteroids – help to induce variety, while the three playable craft (two ships and a fairy, with the latter originally being DLC) allow for experimentation. The fairy is fast, but their shots are slow, taking a good couple of seconds to travel up the screen. It takes a while to acclimatise to just how nimble they are. It’s possible to control two ships with one joypad too, although it’s arguably a novelty feature.
With a bevy of modes – including Overkill mode, where focused fire generates a score multiplier – there’s a lot to dip in and out of. An additional “secret” mode can be unlocked throughout play too, which you may be able to guess if you’re familiar with the genre, more or less being a staple.
But there is a rather obvious caveat. Raiden IV is starting to show its age now visually, fast approaching sixteen years old. CGI intros and outros help to bolster the general presentation, and it moves at such a fast pace that the backdrops – which begin with craggy terrane before being replaced with the expansiveness of space – are never on screen for more than a few seconds, but it’s visually inferior to Raiden V regardless.
There’s certainly enough content here to overlook the visual shortcomings. MOSS has essentially taken the time and effort to re-evaluate a game from its past, giving it more attention in the required areas, while making it a more appealing package to newcomers and veterans alike.
Published by NIS America, Raiden IV x MIKADO remix is out Jan 31st (US) and Feb 3rd (Europe) on PC, PS5, PS4, Xbox Series and Xbox One. It first launched on Switch in 2021.