Sunday, April 17, 2011

Game On: Let's Play 2.05 - Raiden Trad

Game: Raiden Trad
System: Super Nintendo
Developer: Micronics
Publisher: Electro Brain
Players: Edward Bauman
Alex Wanschura

Game Overview

Arcades used to be the go-to places for everyone’s gaming fix, ranging from small games of Pac-Man to finger-blistering battles in Street Fighter. Over time, these mainstays in the gaming industry became a complimentary part of every gamer’s life, allowing them to socialize with other gamers and experience gaming outside of home. Regardless of how prominent arcades were for gamers, arcade companies wanted to ensure that they received some money from gamers, whether they were at home or in the arcades. As such, several arcade ports and spin-offs have graced every console and handheld in existence, even if the quality has varied greatly from game to game.

One of the more recognized developers of Japanese arcade titles back in the day was Seibu Denshi, formed in the early 1980’s and best known for creating the Raiden shooter franchise. Raiden is a series of vertical shooters in which the World Alliance Military fights off the Cranassians, an alien race bent on invading Earth. In order to defeat the aliens, the WAM creates the Raiden Supersonic Attack Fighter, a super-powered jet created from a crashed alien vessel, to stop the oncoming forces and save humanity. This episode’s game, Raiden Trad, would be a Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis port of the action-packed arcade shooter. Of course, Seibu Denshi had worked on console games beforehand, specifically three rail-gun shooters: Dynamite Duke, Empire City: 1931, and Dead Angle. Bringing the arcade hit Raiden to consoles was no problem for the developer, but with the focus strictly toward a Genesis port, the company outsourced the SNES’s version to another developer.

Enter Micronics, the true developer of Raiden Trad’s Super Nintendo iteration. Formed in 1985, this Japanese developer was headed by Masahiko Tsukada and Kazuo Yagi and was a contract developer for the NES and, for one time, the Sega Master System. A post on 2Ch claims that the president of the company was a college student who had wanted to join the gaming industry and ended up doing ports without the desire to clean up bugs and other issues formed during game development; whether this is true has not been confirmed. While some games the developer produced did not mention its name and required deep investigation for authentication, Raiden Trad happens to sport the developer’s name right on the title screen. Perhaps the game was good enough that the developer decided to put its name on the game, or perhaps Seibu Denshi wanted to ensure gamers that it had no major part in Trad’s development.

The publisher of Raiden Trad in the US was Electro Brain Corporation. Not much is known about the company other than the unique lineup of games it published up to that point. Titles released before Raiden Trad included Ghoul School and Supercars for the NES.

Raiden Trad’s SNES edition features many differences from the original arcade classic, most of which result in the game’s poor quality. Some of the abilities do not become as powerful as they would in the arcade game, and a few of the bosses are stationary or are already in their second attack formation so as to cut corners. Bombs, which originally only destroyed ships which collided with the explosion, eliminate everything on screen in Trad. After beating a boss, players pull themselves toward the center of the screen, possibly colliding with an enemy bullet on the way. A reduced framerate and duller colors combine into something which only harms the overall package of the otherwise lackluster port. At least the game is content complete, for the most part.

Since its Release…

Raiden as a series would go on for several iterations in the Arcades, but after Raiden DX, released in 1994, the series remained alive mostly through a number of spin-offs. The Raiden Fighters series continued the franchise as a spin-off, introducing a number of unique fighter planes and cooperative game quirks unused in the original Raiden series. All three games of the Raiden Fighters series would be released in an Xbox 360 collection, Raiden Fighters Aces, developed by Gulti and published by Success Corporation and Valcon Games. The main Raiden series would not see a return until Raiden III and Raiden IV were developed for Xbox 360 in 2005 and 2007; the latter of those games was brought to America as a retail-only game via UFO Interactive. The series has remained quiet ever since, although since reappearing after a decade of silence, who knows whether the series is finally over or not.

As for ports of Raiden Trad, only the Genesis and Super Nintendo iterations were made, although Raiden itself was ported several times under various other names. To quote Wikipedia: “Raiden was ported to the FM Towns Marty, PC Engine,…Atari Jaguar, PlayStation as The Raiden Project, Atari Lynx, [Atari Falcon], Amiga, MS-DOS, and mobile phones.” The original arcade game is also available on PSN.

Raiden series developer Seibu Denshi continued to produce games well into the 1990’s, just as the arcade scene in America dwindled and shifted toward at-home gaming. The Raiden Fighters games were the last major titles the company produced, with the last of those games seeing release in 1998. Since then, the company’s only games of merit have been licensed out: Raiden III and Raiden IV, in fact. The company’s website states that it has produced a number of small mobile games as late as 2006, but its lack of content makes it hard to note what the games are. The company’s last listed release is BINKANリップスぷらす, whatever that means. It should be noted that most of the Raiden team from Seibu Denshi left the company to form MOSS, which is the developer of Raiden III and IV. Its most recent release was King of Fighters: Sky Stage for XBLA, which saw its US release September 2010.

Micronics became infamous for its poor products, and it ultimately disappeared in 1993. However, according to the Game Developers Research Institute, it seems that the company renamed itself to Khaos so as to avoid the negative publicity it had created over the years. Under this name, the developer produced a multitude of ports to the Super Nintendo and other consoles. While there is no explicit mention of the name change, GDRI found that code and sound effects matched for the two developers, and neither company coexisted at the same time. Regardless, the company did not last long, and it ceased to exist by the release of the first 3D game console.

US Publisher Electro Brain remained in existence for quite a while, despite publishing obscure titles over the course of its existence. In particular, the company acted as a publisher for some of Hudson Soft’s unclaimed titles during the late 1990s, including Star Soldier: Vanishing Earth for Nintendo 64 and Bomberman Quest for Gameboy Color. Even though Electro Brain did not have any releases for years, it remained in existence until 2008 (according to sources), when it filed for bankruptcy. Sony took the company’s employees and assets following the company’s closure.

The Let’s Play

After failing to complete Jaws in a timely manner, Ed decided to go take a whack at another game in his limited library. Being one interested in trying different rather than popular games at the time, Alex decided to have him try out Raiden Trad, which would be a short and unique experience.

While Tony and Mark went to get food, Alex and Ed would play cooperatively and begin their journey to the end of the otherwise basic SNES port of the arcade classic. Starting with no changes to the options, how would the duo fair together?


Not well. The two died within a ten-minute span, but after a couple tweaks here and there, the game became much easier, perhaps too easy. That was the big problem, in the end: Raiden Trad was too easy when it was set to being easy. With many extra lives and plenty of weaponry, the game became a pushover, and once enough powerups were given to the two, they simply mowed down oncoming enemy forces.

The game unfortunately becomes fairly boring in the latter half, particularly because of the aforementioned underpowered enemy troops. Commentary remained humorous but ultimately sparser as the episode continued.

Note that the music suffers from a capture card issue, resulting in skipping audio. This could not be fixed completely, and as a result, the game is fairly quiet in this episode. Furthermore, the audio itself was not balanced as well as expected, so it might be harder to hear than usual.

Following this playthough, Ed had to depart, but Mark would stay for what would be the final episode of the season…

No comments:

Post a Comment