A 1990 release into arcades by Tecmo of Japan, Raiden is an action-packed shoot ’em up with a vertical screen and impressive 2D graphics.
In it you fly a jet which can shoot various forward-mounted weapons as well as drop a limited number of ‘smart bombs’ that have sustained explosive power. Your front-mounted weapons can hit targets on the ground as well as in the air, so there’s no having to switch weapons to deal with ground targets (as seen in Xevious, for example). This makes Raiden a pure ‘button-bashing’ experience, rather than a tactical game.
You’re defending Earth from an invading alien force, and some of the tech they’ve brought with them is quite impressive. Large ships come down the screen at you from time to time, each with its own unique attack pattern and these are generally easily taken care off. The resulting explosions from shooting them down are very impressive. Also, every now and then, a large, downed (or maybe parked) alien ship forms part of the backdrop, which is visually very impressive.
Raiden actually becomes more and more over-the-top and impressive as the game progresses. Dodging bullets does become pure hell after a while though. Like most arcade shooters from the Eighties and Nineties: Raiden is hard. Boss battles especially.
Raiden is also still great to play now – particularly the simultaneous two-player co-op mode – so check it out if you’ve never tried it.
More: Raiden on Wikipedia