Raiden IV x Mikado Remix is a vertically-scrolling shoot-’em-up from famed Japanese arcade developer MOSS. As with most series from Japan, there’s a degree of… non-linearity to their releases and that’s definitely the case here as Raiden V already exists (we reviewed it five years ago). But a lot of people see Raiden IV as the best of the series and so it is this one that gets this new remix treatment.
To understand Raiden IV x Mikado, it’s best to look at the original Raiden IV as that forms the main basis for almost everything this game offers. As with the other games in the series this is a fairly standard shoot ’em up. You fly ever upwards taking out enemies who are looking to either shoot or crash into you. You’re armed with a primary weapon () that comes in three flavours that are selected, and upgraded, by picking up floating coloured gems. Red gems give you a spread fire, blue gives you a thin but focused laser and purple gives you a choice of two large plasma weapons (you pick the one you want at the start of the game).
In addition to this you can pick up passive secondary weapons that fire various types of missile and you get a handy-ish smart bomb (). We say ‘ish’ because, of the three playable ships on offer, only two of them have a good bomb. The second ship was a little bit rubbish in that department.
As you’d expect from this type of game, you’ll fly through multiple levels each punctuated with an end of level boss. There are five levels in the standard arcade mode but two more are offered in the ‘Additional’ mode and the game’s more prominent Overkill mode (which was featured in Raiden IV: Overkill which made an appearance on the PS3). However, if you beat the game you’ll then be pushed into a second loop where you’ll do it all again.
In terms of the core mechanics, things are reasonably sound. The controls are good, the weapons offer some good tactical options and we enjoyed the game’s setting which takes you from an Earth-based military sort of environment up to the game’s later space-based battles. There are also some good scoring mechanics on offer, especially in Overkill mode which gets its name from letting you keep shooting at defeated enemies in order to boost the score they give.
That’d all be great but for regular players, they might find the risk vs. reward mechanics to be an unnecessary distraction from the more important task of staying alive. Raiden IV x Mikado is HARD. We mean, really hard. Getting a 1CC on ‘very easy’ (which lets you destroy some enemy bullets as well as chilling them out a fair bit) is far from being easy but when you step up to normal or anything harder, the game is pretty sadistic.
Some of that you can blame on this reviewer, I’m not bad at shoot ’em ups (they’re my favourite genre but I’m cursed with having the hand to eye coordination of a human and not an android) but also the combination of your slow-ish ship, some very fast enemy bullets and tricky enemy placements ramps up the challenge but then the visuals take it over the top. Yep, unfortunately far too many of our deaths just seemed to come out of nowhere.
Enemy bullets in this game are usually a fiery orange rather than using the traditional neon pinks and blue that someone like Cave tends to use. And as such, the combination of all those elements just make those 1CCs pretty much impossible for all but the most hardcore of shoot -’em-up experts we reckon.
In terms of the game’s presentation, everything looks okay but not quite as sharp as we’d like. Played on a large 4K TV, it felt as those there was a very slight blur to the action, a lack of crispness. Aside from that, the game looks quite nice and it’s all pretty impressive when you’re wiping out a screen full of enemies with your twisty-turny plasma laser. But again, a weapon like that can make it very hard to see incoming threats. Thankfully, the game likes to award you with extra credits and lets you start the game from any stage you’ve beaten, so getting in good practice sessions is easier than ever.
The music is also given a degree of prominence here. That’s the ‘Mikado’ reference in the title. Apparently, Mikado is a game centre in Japan (is that an arcade?) and they produced the game’s soundtrack, adding even more guitar-heavy, bombastic rock tracks to the game. It all sounds pretty good and we had no complaints in this department.
So, what you really get here is Raiden IV: Overkill but with a few more tunes and that’s fine. It’s a highly rated game in a beloved shoot ’em up series but it maybe it’s just not got the visual flash to standout against modern shoot ’em ups and that difficulty is a tad too aggressive to make it a game we can wholeheartedly recommend. But if you’re a fan of the series, and made of the right stuff, you’ll likely get a lot from this one.
+ Weapon power up system is effective and easy to understand
+ Bombastic soundtrack
- Needlessly difficult at times
- Doesn't do anything particularly new for the genre