Okay, kids, pop quiz time! What is the proper response for when alien invaders attack Earth?
Released in an era saturated with fighting games and driving games, the arcade RAIDEN succeeded by providing no-nonsense, nostalgic shooter action. There were no secret moves and no whiplash speeds; a sharp eye, good reflexes, and some old-fashioned machismo was all anyone needed to master the game. On the surface, RAIDEN on the Lynx is a wonderful adaptation. The simplicity of the rules and the overall game layout are translated intact, and a casual glance will give veterans a sense of deja vu.
Unfortunately, there are a few small changes that significantly affect the Lynx version of RAIDEN. The most severe difference is the size of the game graphics; though the sprites have been shrunken down to fit on the Lynx screen, they're not small enough. Just having two enemies on the screen is a significant amount of space, and you often end up with almost no room to maneuver. Given the pokey speed of the ship -- ironically, an accurate aspect of the original -- it's not hard to fly into a situation where you're quickly pinned and killed.
Other subtle game changes work against the player. Slight changes to the flight paths of the enemies have turned some into near-kamikaze maniacs. The power-up icons take much longer to cycle through their different weapon types, forcing you to either grab weapons wantonly, or wait longer before enhancing your ship. The strength of some enemies have also been changed, so tougher "grunt" ships are now paired with pushover bosses. Without any sort of adjustable difficulty levels, these small changes end up turning RAIDEN a _very_ difficult game.
Aside from the above-mentioned larger game sprites, RAIDEN has some of the most wonderful graphics for a Lynx arcade adaptation. Even with a much lower screen resolution and color palette than the original, the graphics are clean, nicely animated, and easily identifiable -- fans of the arcade game will have no problems recognizing the big-screen sprites with their Lynx counterparts. The view scrolls at a leisurely pace, though the game does slow down a tad when there are too many objects simultaneously on the screen.
Sound effects, on the other hand, are entirely forgettable. The only music in the game is a brief, looping tune at the title page, and in-game sounds consist of a handful of generic explosions, weapons, and beeps. There's nothing irritating, fortunately, but it's clear that no effort was made to enhance the audio aesthetics.
RAIDEN on the Lynx is an admirably ambitious effort to duplicate the arcade game. Unfortunately, it falls a bit short, with several subtle game changes that snowball into a steep difficulty curve. While the bland sound effects are compensated by clean, faithful graphics, RAIDEN is a game best suited for experienced players with a high pain tolerance.
GAMEPLAY: 7 GRAPHICS: 9 SOUND: 5 OVERALL: 7