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Akara Senki Raijin

Platform:
nes
Developer:
Square
Genre:
Shooter
  • July 12, 1988
D- 1 total rating
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In Days of Antiquity

An Akara Senki Raijin review Author: Ziyad Khesbak Published: August 23, 2004
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There have been many faces of the Square we all know and love. From the years of Squaresoft to the merger switch, our beloved developers have maintained an unparalleled standard of excellence and continuously produced high-quality titles that are sure to make us tingle with each and every mention.

Notice something wrong with that statement?

Yes, while it may be true that Square has had its share of genre-changing successes, naming among them Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy VII, it may sometimes be difficult to remember that at one point in its thick and winding history, the company known as Squaresoft put out complete and utter garbage. One such endearing piece of refuse has come to be known as "Akara Senki Raijin".

Often dubbed "Akuu Senki Raijin", this folly of a shooter was put on Japanese store shelves in mid-1988, pieced together in response to other titles such as Guardian Legend (released earlier the same year), which successfully combined the classic shooter formula with portions of Zelda-style adventuring. Alas, the formula for success desires the actual effort not present in Raijin.

Yes, folks, real men wear pink.

The 8-bit graphics range mostly from bland to very bland, but considering the system and the time, that's to be expected. Still, the sprites seem very quickly put together and it seems as if no effort was put into any kind of distinctive visual-style. Instead, enemy palettes come in two varieties: Light Green and Hot Pink. Truly, I must wonder what kind of self-respecting mechanic orders a hot pink coat of paint for his seven-ton death machine. This, of course, is without mention of your primary mech, which transforms from an anthropomorphic rhinoceros into what appears to be a very comfortable flying couch.

Gameplay ranges from shooting in-flight to ordering your "ship" to land at the nearest possible location to fire at regenerative enemies until some mysterious quota is reached and they cease to spawn. Then you may move on, after collecting icons which serve to break down barriers halting your forward advance, attainable by clearing screens of enemies or simply by picking them up.

You may think you've dodged his shots, but he's half a second away from ramming right into you.

Unfortunately, several problems plague the mechanics of Raijin: To begin with, balancing issues prompt enemies to do absolutely obscene amounts of damage, which, due to the sluggish maneuverability of your mech, are difficult to avoid. This is exclusive of actual physical collision with enemies; since there is no recoil mechanism as with Zelda to throw your character from danger and the mech is, again, too slow to sidestep out of harm's way, you'll often find yourself reduced to nothing in only a few seconds as pink monsters trample your remains.

Your weapons, which perform poorly due to sub-par collision detection, come in five varieties: a weak main weapon which shoots quickly and four separate special weapons selectable on the menu screen. Of course, all fire seems to dissipate five yards from your gun barrel, and even your strongest weapon doesn't have the range or scope to hit much of anything that you're not looking dead in the eyes. That is, even if you can get to it.

Flying red couch. You thought I was kidding?

The control scheme is so convoluted that there are two buttons for the same function, depending on the situation. Sometimes the "select" button is used to cycle through menus, and other times the "A" button. Sometimes "A"is used to make a selection; sometimes "B". The end result has you re-learning the controls on a menu-by-menu basis. All this while attempting to fly through hostile enemy territory with less control maneuverability than a snail with an African elephant strapped to its back. Not very fun.

Sound and music are also just as poor. There seem to be two tracks: the intro music and the game music. Both sound similar, and get tiresome rather quickly. Menu sounds have been taken directly from Final Fantasy, and shooting sound effects are mediocre. In fact, the same sound used for firing a secondary weapon is also used for enemy impact and damage.

Altogether, Akara Senki Raijin is a fine example of a hastily assembled game without any semblance of effort, in its stead a hastily assembled greed without any desire for quality.
Eventually, Squaresoft did manage to pull itself out of this nasty rut, and move on to greater things. But time flows like a river, and history repeats?
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Editor's Grade
D-
dotted line "And you were wondering why Squaresoft nearly hit rock bottom."
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Author
Ziyad
Nerd Patriarch
Square Haven Editor
Member since October 19, 2002
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