Looks like I'm back at the arcade with one of the most obscure games you've never heard of. Where's Raiders 1 through 4, you ask? I have no clue, but here's Raiders5; an odd overhead shooter with unique gameplay. Enough with the jibber-jabber, let's raid this sucker!
As an outsider looking at the screenshots, Raiders5's visuals must appear muddled and confusing. Luckily, when you play the game they're actually quite clear. Being able to discern points of interest is easy and that helps to simplify the gameplay. However, this doesn't mean that the graphics are good. In fact, the unvaried enemies and environments overstay their welcome just a few levels in. Only the colour palettes of the stages vary and they don't even change that drastically. It all looks the same from start to finish. That being said, when you lose a life, the resulting flashy feast for the eyes simply looks awesome! It definitely takes the edge off of failure. When it comes to audio, there's nothing noteworthy to speak of. You'll hear generic arcade effects on top of quiet spacey music and that's about it. Overall, it doesn't come across as much, but does it at least play well?
Upon starting a game of Raiders5, you'll be surprised how simple the controls are which is fantastic considering how much you have to focus on in order to succeed. You basically steer a ship around maze-like levels called "scenes" and shoot a beam by the tap of a button. This beam sure is powerful since it can blast down most walls. It sounds simple enough, but the mix of gameplay elements actually creates a consistently frenzied intensity that gets increasingly difficult as you progress. An added complexity that helps provide even more challenge is the fact that you can't turn to face a wall unless there's a wall in front of you. This means that if you find yourself in a tight spot, you have to strategize where to tear down walls in order to advance since you can't just shoot everything around you.
The point of each scene is to destroy a certain number of gold blocks which makes the exit to the next scene appear. Along the way, you'll encounter many enemies that you can temporarily subdue with your beam or you can collect a power-up that allows you to mow them over and potentially collect a ton of points in the process (just like in Pac-Man). The combination of strategizing where to go next within each maze, being relentlessly chased by enemies, and classic shooting action really does impress me and makes me wonder why no one's heard of this game. It truly is a buried arcade treasure in every sense of the term.
Although Raiders5's gameplay is interesting and frankly thrilling at times, the lack of diversity quickly drains your excitement as its repetitiveness starts to emerge. Unlike arcade classics like Dig Dug or Gradius, you won't feel like playing through to the end or starting again upon getting a game over. It's a perfect game to pick up every once in a while to play some fine retro action, but after a few minutes you'll be satisfied enough to put it down. Of course, I should mention as I did in my previous Arcade Archives reviews that the leaderboards only hold 100 players and there is no included content besides the main game. I wonder if they'll ever improve these aspects. I can't be the only one who wants to read the history of the game, watch interviews, flip through image galleries, and all that jazz; so step your game up, Arcade Archives!
If you're looking for classic arcade gameplay then Raiders5 is definitely worth downloading to your PlayStation 4. However, first make sure you're ready for a limiting experience that's only fun for a few minutes at a time. Arcade Archives, consider yourself raided.
- + Great mix of elements makes for some exciting retro high score chasing gameplay
- + Easy to learn with simple controls
- + Losing a life looks awesome!
- - Lackluster visuals and audio
- - Gameplay gets repetitive much sooner than you'd hope it would
- - Arcade Archives, will you ever learn...