It must be hard to come up with new and exciting game names these days. I’d think that pretty much every combination of words has been used for some game or another as the years have progressed.
The game that prompted this unusual bit of reflection for me is the latest shooter from Eastasiasoft, which goes by the name of RedRaptor. It just sounds good, doesn’t it? Red is a good strong colour, and Raptor was made famous by Jurassic Park. When the two are combined, magic is promised. At least that’s what we are hoping.
Story is where I shall drop anchor at first, and while it isn’t really needed for a vertically scrolling shoot ‘em up, it is always nice to think that the developers have made that little bit of effort and shoe-horned one in. Well, while there is a campaign mode, I’m entirely unsure as to what we are doing or why we are doing it, but the action waits for no one, and off we blast into the wild blue yonder! Basically, some enemies have appeared, make them go away.
Presentation is the next port of call, and it comes as no surprise to learn that this is a retro styled affair. RedRaptor is apparently inspired by the shoot ‘em ups of the 1990s, and in true fashion, the game does look slightly dated. The action is restricted to the centre of the screen, and the shooting takes place in a narrow strip up the middle, with large panels to either side showing other information. There is even an option to have the scan lines from an old school CRT screen showing, which completes the nostalgia.
The sound is okay as well, if somewhat on the loud side. There’s no complaints though, with the usual explosions, shooting effects and sirens before the boss all present and correct. All in all, if you played a shoot ‘em-up in the 90s, you’ll feel right at home here.
But what about the actual action on display here, what is that like? Well, interesting, in a single word.
There is a kind of roguelite mechanic at play here, which means that as you head forth with attempts on the enemy, you collect gold coins that happen to fall out of the spaceship’s pocket. Anyway, however you come by it, the enemies drop gold, which can then be used in the upgrade menu to add new abilities to your spaceship, making you stronger. Extra health, more powerful weapons, even “wingmen” that turn out to be little turrets that fly alongside you, can be unlocked with the sufficient application of currency. There are different levels of each skill to unlock as well, and by the time you’ve maxed some of these out, you are pretty much a flying machine of death.
This isn’t to say that RedRaptor is easy, by any manner of means. This is how games used to be back in the day, with razor sharp reflexes required to make your way through the absolute mountain of bullets that are going to be coming your way. There seems to be only one life, but there are different levels of health that you can unlock, and once they are depleted, it is game over, back to the start and begin again. This adds to the roguelite feel of the game, and when you do manage to take a boss down, it actually feels like an achievement to be proud of.
As we go through the levels, blasting waves of enemies to hell and gone, they will, occasionally, drop little things for us to pick up. This is another throwback to the classics, and, as usual, these will give us some bonuses for grabbing them. Ranging from a very helpful bubble shield, that will protect us from a certain number of hits, through to weapon upgrades and even health top-ups, these additions can make a big difference to the run that you are attempting.
RedRaptor isn’t massively long, with only a few stages to go at, but the difficulty level is high enough to ensure it won’t be completed in five minutes. It even goes against the usual strain of achievements for Eastasiasoft games, with some of the achievements and Gamerscore being tied to completing each of the stages; in turn helping to keep you playing.
In conclusion, if you were gaming back in the 1990s, RedRaptor is an easy sell. For others, prepare yourself for a stiff challenge and more bullets than you can shake a spaceship at…