Developer: DotEmu
Price: $4.99
Version: 1.2
App Reviewed on: iPad 2G

raphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★½
Game Controls Rating: ★★★★½
Gameplay Rating: ★★★★½
Replay Value Rating: ★★★★☆

Overall Rating: ★★★★½

The era of arcade prominence has long since passed in North America. Examining the landscape nowadays, it would be hard to imagine that there was ever a period where these electronic wonderlands were as commonplace as mall food courts. Within this magical Mecca of quarters and strobe lights there was usually a section of shoot ‘em ups, or “shmups” for short, hidden in a dank, dark corner of the building. Gamers loved the genre because of the impossible challenge and arcade owners adored the machines for their ability to gobble coins by the roll-load. Several of the most popular shmups on the market came from the Raiden franchise, which has recently been revived on the App Store in the form of the new anthology, Raiden Legacy. Can the revered brand take flight once again, or should it have gone the way of the arcade?

Flying the friendly skies of “bullet hell” has never been more fun. Raiden Legacy takes four classic installments in the series, Raiden, Raiden Fighters, Raiden Fighters 2 and Raiden Fighters Jet, and combines them under a unified moniker. Aging arcade fanatics finally have the chance to put their quarters to good use, all in the name of never having to venture to the coin machine again. DotEmu went to great lengths to make sure that this collection is as authentic and true-to-life as possible, while still providing a modern touchscreen gaming experience.

Among the modernizations brought about in this retro republication is the ability to control the game in either an arcade or fast touch mode. In both cases the touch screen is used to navigate the ship, but in arcade touch movement is slowed down to match the speed and choppiness of the game as if it were being played on an actual arcade cabinet. On the opposite end of the spectrum, in fast touch the ship slides smoothly and responsively, effortlessly following the movements of the player’s appendage. It may only be a minor change, but a compromise like this provides the audience with the most comprehensively realistic experience, while still allowing for modernizations to happen.

All four of the classic shmups in this collection have been brought back to life in a way that truly does each title justice. Raining down rapid-fire artillery on hordes of disgruntled adversaries never stops being entertaining, no matter how often they happen get the upper hand. Even in the midst of all the chaos and flashing that appears on-screen, iOS devices unflinchingly prove to be more than up to the task of flawlessly emulating an arcade cabinet. Oh, and as a word of warning, just because the game has no coin slot, doesn’t mean it is going to be any more forgiving. Players only get three continues before the dreaded “Game Over” makes an appearance.

When developers set out to replicate an authentic arcade experience on iOS, they rarely achieve the level of success that Raiden Legacy has attained. Add in additional single player missions and training modes for each game, along with iCade compatibility to boot, and DotEmu has a legitimate hit on their hands. Don’t think twice about the rather hefty $4.99 price tag, because frankly, it is more than justified for any enthusiast. Think of all the quarters it will be saving!

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