It seems like only a few months ago we were riding high on ‘shmup thrills with Raiden IV x MIKADO Remix, but just as that rush is ending Japanese developers MOSS have just dropped a bit of a surprise as Raiden III has been given the same treatment. Raiden III x MIKADO MANIAX takes a classic foundation once again and shakes it all up to create something fresh and oh so addictive again. This – if you’re keeping track of Raiden games – is the middle title so far in the numbered entries of the series and in a lot ways keeping that fact in the back of your head, will answer a lot of the questions you may have about the game. It’s better than V, but not quite as good as IV if I am being honest, yet on the other hand it’s better than I and II so it’s a real middle of the roads entry in the series… oddly fitting as it’s the middle game.
Raiden III x MIKADO MANIAX is a solid ‘shmup all around… no questions there, as it never really has any issues, but also never truly breaks the mould. This is perfectly fine though if you’re looking for something to raise the bar on Raiden IV x MIKADO remix, you’re maybe going to have to manage those expectations a little. As for story you could write it on the back of a beer mat, as the extra-terrestrial race – known as the Crystals – launches yet another attack on Earth. So it’s up to you to end their assault once and for all! (Just pretend that there isn’t another two games after this). It’s a fine thread that holds together one epic battle to the next.
Gameplay-wise you get one ship this time around with two core attacks, a rapid shot and a bomb and that’s it in terms of major core mechanics. Also worth noting is the speed of your ship, which it’s fair to say is legendary in ‘shmup circles, as you’re slow as hell and never pick up pace regardless of number of enemies or the increase in projectile volume. Think of yourself as a flying tank and you’ll have no issues, as you can up your firepower by grabbing power-ups you’ll find from blasting bad guys. These will give you one of three different shot types depending on the colour of power-up you grab. Red gives you an epic spread shot that covers the screen in round after round of your fire, blue however will give you a laser – that is hell of a powerful, but has a narrow field of effect, and the green is an odd one, as you’ll get a laser that acts like a whip and bounces around the screen hitting enemies, but is the weakest/hardest to use affectively of the three. You’ll also get upgrades to your missiles, as well as the series staple fairies that will help you out (if you have one and happen to die).
As for enemies, Raiden III x MIKADO MANIAX starts out nice and easy till about half way through and then it starts to ramp up which is a welcome challenge. This will see you having to firstly learn fire patterns, though none are too extreme and secondly mastering tap dodge, as there are a lot of sniper style enemies towards the end of the game. Though the game’s difficulty does need to be mentioned a bit, as it really goes from one extreme to the next; over the seven stages. The first two are a breeze and 3 – 4 deliver the best in the way of a balanced challenge but 5, 6 and 7 are just wild and you will be hitting that retry button more times that you would like. Beyond the core mode there are a few other modes you can play: Score Attack and Boss Rush, as well as Double Play – giving you the ability to pilot two ships at once and is easily the most interesting mode out of the bunch. Plus with this being a ‘shmup you can bet there are online leader boards for you to top, as you go face to face with the best players in the world. There is also a bunch of extra stuff to look at and see, from gallery and ship models, to a number of different backgrounds to skin your screen with as you play.
Visually Raiden III x MIKADO MANIAX is impressive within the ‘shmup space, but it’s never very in your face, as it sees you battling over green fields, before heading to a floating military base and then onwards to space across its seven core stages. Though there is a bit of an issue at times on the visual front around some enemy bullet visibility, as it’s too easy at times to lose or even miss some of the small shots that are fired at you, especially during the more complex stages. This is not helped by shots, point pick-ups and explosions all sharing the same colour palette. Sound-wise this is arguably the biggest addition to the game and selling point, as there are multiple soundtracks you can pick from with each using the same core theme, but creating something very different from each other. Plus if you’re looking to hear all the tracks on show you’ll have to replay the game a few times to unlock them. Raiden III x MIKADO MANIAX is a very old school version of a loved series and at its core it’s also at its most basic in ways. If you have Raiden IV x MIKADO remix is it worth grabbing this? Maybe… if you’re hungry for more of a challenge, or really enjoy the remixed soundtracks.
An Xbox review copy of Raiden III x MIKADO MANIAX was provided by MOSS’ PR team, and it’s available now on Xbox, PC, Switch and PlayStation for around £25 depending on platform and edition.