Raiden III x Mikado Maniax Review

RAIDEN III X MIKADO MANIAX REVIEW Feature Image

Raiden III x Mikado Maniax Review

Raiden III x Mikado Maniax is a vertical shoot-em-up created by Shmup Legends MOSS and given the ‘Mikado’ treatment much like Raiden IV did a few years ago including new music etc and some modern quality-of-life improvements. The core game is still exactly the same as the original Raiden III which is no bad thing, as that was already a fantastic shooter.

The gameplay is your standard shmup fare, you avoid bullets, take down enemies and collect powerups. Each of Raiden III’s 7 levels culminates in a large end-of-level boss. Bosses are large and generally quite the spectacle. Learning the pattern of each boss is a lot of fun and I felt a great sense of satisfaction after learning to dodge the majority of attack patterns.

The help you reach the bosses, there are three different powerups on offer which are the Raiden series trademark each represented by a colored gem. Red is the Vulcan Cannon, a wide-inversed triangular spray of bullets, handy for covering the majority of the screen at once, albeit not as powerful as the other two weapon types.

The blue gem pickup will give you the Ion laser, a blue pillar-style beam dealing massive damage to enemies directly in front and finally the Proton Laser which fires a thing beam directly in front of the play that can be ‘wobbled’ by manoeuvring the ship back a forth. Each of these can be powered up to five times by collecting the corresponding power-ups in succession.  

Raiden III wobble

To complement your three weapons you have collectable bomb pickups and a choice of three sub-weapons all being variants of missiles, these auto-fire alongside your standard shot and can be either Homing, radar or nuclear missiles, each with their own upgrades.

There are a few hidden secrets throughout the game including hidden 1-Ups and Fairies. Fairies are another series staple, once collected they will appear if you lose a life and drop some powerups so you are not back to square one. They have the small chance to drop a ‘P’ powerup which will power all your weapons to the maximum level, although I’ve only had it drop once or twice.

Game modes include Regular, Score Attack and a Boss Rush mode which is unlockable after a successful clear of the regular mode. Each mode and difficulty has both world and local ranking which is always a nice feature to see in these releases.

Speaking of Difficulty, there are 7 different modes in total from Practice to Very Hard. In practice mode, the enemies won’t even shoot at you, whereas Very Hard mode is two whole difficulty settings above Arcade mode and only for the most seasoned Raiden III veterans, myself NOT included.

Raiden III Review Wallpaper example

You can play each of the main modes either Solo like the original arcade, Dual which is the two-player mode or Double which allows you to control both Player 1 and 2 at the same time, while this mode may seem very daunting at first, it’s actually quite a lot of fun once you wrap your head around it.

Extras

Raiden III x Mikado Maniax has an extensive Extras mode that is available from the main menu. Included is a 3D model viewer which includes every ship in the game including bosses, it’s a nice addition and it feels like a lot of work has gone into it.

Other extras include an Artwork viewer which features a few promo pieces and concepts for the game, a mode for viewing replays (very handy!) and a demo mode, which attacks like an arcade cabinet’s attract mode.

There are options to change the Gameplay background music which are very customizable. You can choose to completely change each set of music or do it on a level-by-level basis. The remixes are handled by the best of the best from Mikado Game Center Japan and they are split into two sides, A and B. The former focuses more on an electronic / dance style with the B side being more Rock and Metal. These tracks are something else, I love them and they are a great fit, I prefer some of these tracks on offer here over the already great Raiden IV x Mikado Remix OST.

New music tracks are unlocked the more you play with achievement points being dished out depending on the score in the game modes. I’d often find after a run that I’d have a brand new music track or unlockable wallpaper awaiting me back in the main menu. A very cool way to keep the player coming back for more and a little dopamine hit of encouragement to keep you playing.

RAIDEN III UNLOCKABLES

Raiden III x Mikado Maniax offers a variety of display modes from 720p to 4k, with support for screen rotation. There’s a fullscreen mode which will stretch the image to fix your current display. I spent most of my time with Raiden III x Mikado Maniax playing in Tate mode using an LG DualUp 16:18 and I’m pleased to say it looked great, albeit with a couple of black borders on each side of the screen.

Traditional 16:9 screens are handled like the previous release Raiden IV x Mikado Remix, the game plays out vertically with customizable wallpapers filling in the empty space around the gameplay area. There are plenty of different wallpapers to choose from and more will be unlocked as you rack up more points playing through the different game modes, however, I do wish that there was some more utility to empty space and it would have been nice to see some M2 style ‘gadgets’ perhaps displaying the current music, level progression etc.

RAIDEN III BULLET DODGE

Unfortunately, Raiden III x Mikado Maniax refused to work with my Steam Deck no matter what version of proton compatibility I tried. This is a real shame as I often play Raiden IV x Mikado Remix on deck with no issues whatsoever. I’m hopeful that this is something that can be fixed in a patch, either by Nippon Ichi Software or by Valve in a future proton update.

Another small gripe is the prerendered videos, they must be pulled directly from the arcade version as they are quite low-resolution and are pixelated. That said, I would expect they would have to be completely remade which would have taken a lot of work so it’s nicer to see them as they are instead of them being cut. Personally, it doesn’t bother me much and there’s a certain charm to them, but I can see how it might bother certain graphics snobs.

Raiden III Spider boss example

Conclusion

Raiden III x Mikado Maniax is a great package, while the core game is not as good as its successor, it is still one of the better shmups out there. The unlockable and remixed music is great and it really shines when paired with the fast-paced, twitchy gameplay.  If you are a fan of shmups, you owe it to yourself to check out this great example of a classic shooter with a new lick of paint done right.

8/10

8

Steam review code kindly provided by NIS America