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The Raiden Fighters series is a popular series of top-down vertically-scrolling shoot 'em ups 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 until the year 2008, a full decade after the release of Raiden Fighters Jet, for any of the games to be ported to a home video game console, in the form of Raiden Fighters Aces for the Xbox 360, complete with online leaderboards and player achievements.

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.
  • Awesome but Impractical: Most of the impressive-looking weaponry is far outclassed by ships with boring-looking but effective weaponry, especially the Slave's. The Flying Ray and Ixion's laser attacks follow a different rule, though.
  • Bad Export for You: Raiden Fighters 2 2000 is easier than Raiden Fighters 2, and the hardware was simpler (i.e. cheaper), sacrificing the sound quality. Why is this a bad export? One would assume that since it was primarily for the Chinese market, the cost needed to be dropped. Ironically, this inferior sound sounds better in MAME, since the better-sounding sound is not yet fully emulated (the intended generally-upbeat techno sounds like hokey hardcore techno instead).
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Compilation Rerelease: Raiden Fighters Aces, the only successful attempt at porting the series to consoles.
    • It took eleven years for it to happen, starting from the first failed Sega Saturn porting attempt in 1997 to Aces in 2008.
  • Copy and Paste Environments (Jet, oh so much. It even reuses bosses!)
  • 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.
  • Do Well, But Not Perfect: or else the Dynamic Difficulty goes apeshit on you. Of course, you can also just not care.
    • 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).
  • Dummied Out: Jet. The "penalty zone" track along with a number of graphics, sprite layers, and being able to drop bridges on enemies.
  • Dynamic Difficulty: In stark contrast to Battle Garegga, scoring well is a surefire way to drive it up.
  • Fan Nickname:
    • Sniper Tanks: Pretty much a regular feature in Seibu's Shmups and the cause of frustration for players.
    • Toothpaste Gun (the Raiden mk-II's Plasma Beam)
    • Restart Fighters: The series itself, due to the high frequency at which high-level players restart a game, due to how punishing bad starts are in this series.
    • Missile Curtain: The Chaser planes' charged Missile weapon attack, which unleashes a flurry of missiles at hapless enemies.
  • 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.
  • Multiple Endings: Jet. There are four in total:
  • Musical Spoiler: In Jet, if you hear this music, you're on a stage leading to a bad ending.
  • 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.
  • One-Hit-Point Wonder
  • One 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.
  • Right-Wing Militia Fanatic: The main villains in Jet's Real Battle campaign, instead of the usual evil dictatorships.
  • Shows Damage
  • Smart Bomb: Several
    • The tornado-like bomb that explodes and causes shrapnel to fly around the screen (default ships)
    • The delayed-detonation bomb (Raiden mkII)
    • The cluster bomb (Raiden mkII Beta)
    • The enormously powerful Dimensional Mine (Judge Spear, Blue Javelin, Dark Sword).
    • The flamethrower for the secret Miclus and Fairy playable characters.
  • Some Dexterity Required
  • 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.
  • Video Game 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.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: Shooting Micluses until they blow up to yield 100,000 points.
  • Video Game Cruelty Punishment: Shoot a fairy down and you get 10 measly points and the message "KILLED THE FAIRY!", as opposed to the 100,000 you would've gotten by collecting it.