My early gaming days were full of playing the top-down arcade shoot em ups with very fond memories of games like 1942, R-Type and Blood Money on the Amiga. The exhilaration of surviving wave after wave of enemy ships with the screen filling up with more and more bullets and taking that 50/50 risk of going for that much needed power up was a joy, something now only really seen in “Bullet Hell” shooters. One of my Xbox 360 experiences of this was the Raiden series, so as my journey into all things Nintendo Switch continues, it was a lovely surprise to come across Raiden IV X Mikado Remix, first released in the summer of 2021.
The vertical shoot em ups are truly something to behold and very much a classic, had to imagine the original Raiden IV released on the Xbox 360 ten years ago, with a PC port coming in 2015 which added some new mode and features. This Switch version includes all those additions such as the Overkill mode but now with an updated soundtrack to compliment it all. That soundtrack is quite the kickass anthem you would want in a high paced shooter to help keep the tempo high as the action ramps up with progression through the stages.
Visually this is just classic arcade which works remarkably well with the Switch in handheld mode especially, more so due to the way the game itself is boarded as it lacks full screen gameplay. Great for handheld but when docked and on a TV screen, the boarders take up a lot of the actual screen whilst not making it unplayable, it would have been nice to have a full screen option for TV mode.
The gameplay is just incredible in any mode, taking on a variety of enemies on each stage to reach the boss with action that is frantic and deliciously chaotic as much as it is a visual treat which when paired with the new soundtrack really makes this a total package for fans of the genre. There is the traditional Arcade mode, with stages that can be unlocked with credits earned from completing stages to replay them.
The Overkill Mode from the PC port adds a lot of Score challenge mechanics to the game which works by having a gauge in the game, destroy enough enemies and score bonus power ups will drop to enhance your regular score. The Global Leaderboards add that little incentive to keep trying to do better and gain even more high scoring runs and there is a real nostalgia blast when you earn a score worthy enough of adding your initials to your scoreboard placing.
By bringing together all elements of previous Raiden IV releases, this truly becomes the complete package for fans of the series but also it just makes an absolute banger of a game for the Switch which adds one final magical trick to the mix, Co-Op gameplay. Using the joycons, two players can share the experience on a single Switch console. The action is fast when playing alone and with some of the incredible power ups that make your ships weapons just obliterate ships on screen, having a partner with you to double that action is very satisfying indeed, just remember that bombs can clear the screen of enemy bullets as well as doing heavy damage!
With the Christmas now upon us, this would make an excellent stocking filler for a Switch owner that brings some classic arcade action this holiday season and for me, a great trip back in time to the 2000’s when this genre was really at its best for me.