RedRaptor is a traditional vertically-scrolling shoot ’em up from publisher eastasiasoft and is the debut effort from Novax Games. As with most of the shoot ’em ups from this publisher, this one is short, reasonably basic and with an initially tricky difficulty level that soon settles down and gives you that double Platinum trophy without too much resistance, at least if you’ve got fairly decent chops with this genre.
Set across five stages, each with a boss battle at the end, RedRaptor is a quick and easy game to get into and it’s one that doesn’t have too many complications when it comes to its game mechanics. The initial controls are reasonably straightforward. You move your ship with the left-stick or d-pad, although these are limited to four-way movement which is something we’ve not seen in this genre since the early ’80s. It’s not great to be honest as in these days of analogue sticks even eight-way movement can feel quite limiting, but you do get used it quite quickly, even if it’s far from optimal.
You’ve then just got two buttons. One fires your primary weapon, the other arms your ‘laser’ weapon which sends a thick beam of cyan-coloured energy up at your enemies. And that’s really it when it comes to the controls. The laser needs to be charged up over time to use it (and, if we’re being honest, isn’t all that useful anyway and initially covers the screen with a message telling you it is activated) but beyond that there are no other in-game systems to worry about. You just fire and go, working your way through the scrolling levels, taking out enemies and occasionally picking up power ups that add additional firepower such as spread guns and missiles or replenishing health and shields.
You’ll likely get through the first stage without too much trouble, despite your limited manoeuvrability and fairly low-key firepower but when you do finally succumb to the enemy forces, heading back into the main menu will let you spend any money you’ve made in the game on permanent upgrades. These include more bullets, more damage, wingmen (little option things that add more firepower), shields and health. And so, for a while, you’ll be in a nice little loop of making progress, dying, spending money and making more progress.
It’s generally pretty enjoyable stuff, even for a game as basic as this. There’s a degree of challenge at first that you’ll work through and the combat is okay. Sure it’s not up there with the best of the genre on PSN, but it’s not the worst either and we enjoyed playing through it. It feels very much like a late ’80s, early ’90s console shoot ’em up. Something you’d seen on a Mega Drive or even an Amiga and even if it had come out then, this wouldn’t exactly be a memorable game. But we really enjoy shoot ’em ups here, even ones as simplistic as this.
Of course, with just five levels and all those upgrades, you’ll soon complete the game. What’s weird is that the game’s third level is really the only sticking point as it has an awkward bit with some barriers. Once we figured out what to do there, the rest of the game was plain sailing and we were able to beat the final two levels with no problems at all. Indeed, when we went back to test the identical PS4 version, we managed that in just two attempts. So yeah, this isn’t going to be a game that you’ll be playing for long.
That said, there are a couple of attempts to expand the game’s lifespan. When you beat the main ‘Campaign’ mode, you’ll unlock the game’s ‘Arcade’ one. This is the exact same game but without any of the text-based conversational story bits and the game just loops when you beat the fifth level. And both modes have global leaderboards if you fancy just playing for bragging rights. Although maxing out the game’s scoring potential in ‘Campaign’ mode seems like it’d be easy to do with full upgrades. Either way, we can’t see there being much competition on there.
The game’s presentation is pretty stark. The visuals aren’t amazing or particularly inventive and there’s a filter on there that makes it look like it’s using an old RF connector that’s starting to age a bit too much. It gives the game a slightly smudged look at best. The music fares a bit better with a basic but reasonably pumping soundtrack. We’ve certainly heard worse recently.
And that’s basically it for RedRaptor. It was fun enough for us to dip into the PS4 version for that double Platinum (not something we always do) and it was enjoyable enough for the one afternoon that it took to beat the game twice and top one of the leaderboards (albeit there were only two of us on there). Don’t expect anything amazing but if you like shoot ’em ups, this is certainly okay.
+ Upgrades are meaningful and enjoyable to use
- Four way controls don't feel great
- Difficulty curve isn't smooth