However, I recently saw a great deal on a Jaguar system (with 4 games) on eBay and I figured that maybe this would help get me back into gaming. Thankfully, this has been the case so far, which has prompted me to purchase more and more Jag games.
For purposes of nostalgia and an easy test of being able to gauge the Jag's true power, I picked up a new copy of Raiden. I've played practically every version of Raiden out there. How does the Jag's version compare? Surprisingly, above average in just about every category. As a side note, I am comparing the Jag version directly to the arcade original which I have logged many hours (and money) in.
The graphics are pretty close to the arcade original's. If I had to rate them, I'd say they are about 90% there... Some of the trees, enemies and background elements are "enhanced" over the arcade, but there's a slight resolution hit which is understandably unavoidable. The sound and music is a different story. The stage soundtracks have all been remixed and have more of a "techno" sound. I happen to like this due to the fact that the original music ran on archaic arcade hardware and the change was more than welcome. The actual game sound effects are disappointing, especially when you unload a bomb or take out one of the larger tanks which would give out a bass-heavy explosion sound in the arcade version. The Jag's sound effects are rather tinny and pale, but they get the job done.
Play control? No complaints here other than the fact that a rapid fire option would be most welcome! Oh well, I suppose one could always pick up a rapid fire pad at Songbird's website. The only gripe I have with the Jag version is the left and right scrolling. What am I talking about? Well, the arcade version (and just about any other vertical shooter) utilizes a vertical monitor orientation. The Jag version tries to mirror this setup with the gold status info screen on the right hand side. Yes, the illusion of a vertical screen is there, but it seems that you can scroll to the left and right REALLY FAR, more than I remember in any other version of Raiden. Is this a problem? Well, to be blunt, yes. I can't tell you how many lives I've lost trying to avoid a barrage of bullets when scrolling a little too far to the right only to uncover a huge group of tanks which began firing immediately when they come into view. It seems that your view is quite limited ( you can't see as much on the screen at one time) and whether this is due to larger sprites or whatever I don't know.
The level layouts while similar, seem a little shorter than I remember them. This is by no means a problem, but it does seem like you find yourself fighting the bosses sooner than you expect. Friends of mine that have played my Jaguar version agree with me.
The challenge level is not adjustable, but it feels "just right". Not too easy and not too hard. I did notice that, while there is no perceptible flicker or slowdown, the bosses seem to fire their shots at half their normal speed. This is especially noticeable when fighting the first boss (the twin rail-based tanks). Now, I don't know if the programmers deliberately reduced the frame rate to make the game easier or to do this to avoid making frame rate fluctuations less noticeable, but it does seem like its much easier to take out bosses in this game when their bullets fly so much slower.
Overall, this game is great! I play through it all the time and have a great time doing
so. One of my friends remarked that this feels like a "Raiden Remix" because the
music is refreshingly different, the stages seem different, and some of the
backgrounds have been changed or made better. I happen to agree and since this
game has been around for years and ported to just about every system, the subtle
differences are a welcome change.