Raiden Fighters is a popular series of top-down Vertical Scrolling Shooters for the arcades by Seibu Kaihatsu. It is a spinoff of the original Raiden series. The series began with the first game, titled Raiden Fighters, released in 1996. It was followed by two sequels: Raiden Fighters 2: Operation Hell Dive (1997) and Raiden Fighters Jet (1998).It took a full decade after the release of Raiden Fighters Jet for any of the games to be ported to a home video game console. Raiden Fighters Aces was released in 2008 by Success for the Xbox 360, complete with online leaderboards and player achievements. All three games in the series (along with the original Raiden) are also part of the Raiden Legacy collection for PC, available via Desura.
The series exhibits the following tropes:
Anti-Grinding: Players that milk bosses will find nasty surprises in the form of undodgeable patterns or sudden death waves.
"Blind Idiot" Translation: The first two had slightly jilted English but were pretty passable; however, the translator was apparently laid off during Jet's development.
"DESTROYED AT A TIME!"
Bonus Feature Failure: In Aces, Score Attack mode is locked at 60 FPS (NTSC television speed) and cannot be set to 54 FPS (original game speed). Also, all difficulties beyond Arcade or below Normal are not available in Xbox Live mode.
Decapitated Army: For the first and second game. Chances are you kill the so-called "dictators" in the final stages of the games. The enemy starts running away afterwards.
However, diespite victory in the second game, the ending says the player should still keep watch over the enemy. Cue Raiden Fighters Jet.
Degraded Boss: The final boss of Raiden Fighters 2 return as a "normal" boss in Raiden Fighters Jet.
Difficulty By Region: The Japanese versions of the original arcade releases have one loop, which has an Expert mode unlocked upon game completion for 2 and Jet. The US and Asia versions have two loops for all of them, and while the first game only maxes out enemy fire rate and bullet speed in the second loop, the second loop of 2 and Jet have enemies that spew out revenge bullets on top of that. The fact you can destroy one support fighter to lower rank instead of having to junk both as in the Japanese version is little comfort, considering how fast rank goes back up in the games.
This is averted in the port, as the US version is just a text patch on the Japanese version.
Dolled-Up Installment: The first game was called "Gun Dogs", but the name didn't quite gel with market tests so it was changed to "Raiden Fighters" . The ships from Raiden II and Viper Phase 1 were added to justify the name.
Also, the requirements for some stages in Jet; for each lower-tier stage; many require deliberately dying in the stage before or not activating the gold medal mode (and thus missing out on millions of points).
Easy-Mode Mockery: Played straight and inverted, as far as leaderboards go. Difficulty levels below Normal cannot be used for ranking mode...and neither can difficulty levels above Arcade (Arcade being one level higher than Normal).
Evil Laugh: Can be heard in the BGM for Simulation Levels 35 and 50. Since reaching either of these stages disqualifies you from getting to Real Battle, the laughter may be an allusion to this.
Frickin' Laser Beams: Lasers are one of the mainstay weapons of the series. And the Plasma Laser (first unleashed on the world in Raiden II) remains one of the coolest-looking attacks in the world of Shoot Em Ups, though in Raiden Fighters it’s limited to the Raiden mk. II (but the other lasers still look cool in other ways).
Guest Fighter: The Raiden mk. II and Raiden mk. II Beta from Raiden, and the Judge Spear and Blue Javelin from Viper Phase 1.
Guide Dang It: The Micluses and Fairies require either fulfilling some obscure requirements or hovering in a certain, seemingly nondescript spot to uncover them. They're also vital for maximizing your score.
Harder Than Hard: Expert Mode maxes out the bullet speed of enemies and gives them revenge bullets upon death.
Homage: Jet's campaign is more or less taken out of Image Fight.
It's A Wonderful Failure: In Jet, fulfill the conditions for the bad ending (continue in Real Battle 2, or die at least once in Real Battle 1) and you're told that nuclear materials have been stolen because you didn't arrive on time and as the screen fades, an explosion is heard. It's implied that the right-wing terrorists used it to make a nice city-sized crater.
Joke Character: The Raiden Mk. II ship, despite being the slowest and weakest to start with, is a subversion of this when powered up, but any ship with the word "Beast" slapped on to it plays it straight with the biggest hitbox (bigger than some patterns' holes!) and worst, longest-to-charge weaponry.
Macross Missile Massacre: Several ships' charged Missile weapon attacks, most notably the Chaser series' charged Missile attack.
Continue less than three times or do okay on a first credit but not unlock the Dynamic Difficulty increasing special medals, you get an ending that tells you that you've passed the test, but have to train harder.
Nintendo Hard: Aside from the usual barrages, there are no penalty cancel for you. You cannot trigger bombs while being hit and on top of that, bombs doesn't clear screen.
Jet ramps it up with the branching path prerequisites. See multiple endings above.
No Fair Cheating: Think you can overlap tank bosses to shoot them, while they can't shoot you? Think again! Trying to point-blank many tank bosses and some aerial bosses will result them going insane on you and releasing punishment attacks that catch many players off-guard.
Off the Chart: A few ships have attributes that go beyond the end of the bar chart on the ship select screen, like the Judge Spear's speed, or Raiden mk-II's rapid fire rating.
1-Up: Almost entirely averted; the only way to get 1-ups is to complete a loop in a multi-loop difficulty setting. This has the effect of making, for instance, Jet's Simulation Level 50, impossible to reach on one credit without fulfilling a different, counterintuitive requirement.
Time-Limit Boss: Take too long in some boss fights, and it fires a dangerous barrage.
True Final Boss: 2 and Jet have them, but the criteria for the latter is a bit difficult to reach normally.
Videogame Caring Potential: One stage of Raiden Fighters allows you to block a tank boss's shots from hitting some houses; doing so nets you a "DEFENDED THE HOUSE!" bonus. In Raiden Fighters 2's airport stage, you can do the same with a trio of friendly tanks, and the pair of friendly fighters that show up if you choose the airport stage as the second one.