raiden_sign.jpg ['Shmup Me Up, Buttercup' is a bi-weekly column by Jeremiah ''Nullsleep' Johnson, dealing with the latest shoot-em-ups, or shmups, from Japan and the West, and covering the frantically cultish game genre that refuses to die, despite many bullets aimed in its direction over the years.]

Still Raiden After All These Years

In the world of shmups, Raiden is a name that carries with it a legacy that few others do. It is to verts what Gradius and R-Type are to horis (minus the cool models and garage kits that these other two have inspired), a long-running and consistently high-quality series. And in the 15+ years since the original arcade release of Raiden, it has seen numerous sequels, spin-offs, and console ports of all varieties - not to mention the requisite fan-made flash game, which provides a pretty decent excuse to slack off at work.

Roaring Engines, Magnificent Melodies

raiden_ost.jpg Raiden fans were given a treat earlier this year when the ever-excellent INH released the a Raiden I & II OST set. Spanning three CDs and featuring music from composers Akira Sato and Go Sato for the arcade, Playstation, and FM Towns versions of the games, there is plenty of shooting love for your ears here. RTW from over at the shmups.com forums even went through the effort of meticulously compiling composer and arranger information for each track in English, just so the unhealthily-obsessed among you don't have to. Apparently his karmic investment paid off, as he's now compiling questions from fans for an interview with Go Sato that will be tied into a future promotion through CocoeBiz. Mmm, more Raiden music love on the horizon? We sure hope so, it would complement the upcoming Raiden addition to INH's Insanity DVD series, The Aces High, quite nicely.

Thunder and Lightning Strike Thrice

raiden3ss.jpg This month Raiden III will get a Windows port in Japan, following its release for the PS2 last September. While arcade games being brought to the PC usually strikes me as odd (consoles just feel like a more appropriate home for them), it appears to make perfect sense in this case. The reason being that the Taito Type-X arcade hardware Raiden III was originally released on is really not much more than a dedicated PC with a Radeon graphics card. We may even see a bump in the graphical quality of this Windows port when compared to the PS2 version, specifically in higher resolution textures. So if you haven't imported it yet, get those USB joysticks ready.

And while Raiden III might be seen by some as a step backwards from the more complex scoring system of Raiden DX, it's a solid shooter and proof enough that the series still has plenty of fun to offer up. Believe me ... the two player mode makes for great drinking games. *hic*

Shooting From The Hip

Two quick shmup sidenotes that I wouldn't be able to live with myself if I didn't mention. The new G.rev Dreamcast shmup, Under Defeat is coming March 23rd. And if the prices that their previous shmupsterpiece are now commanding are any indication, this is one that you'll want to grab sooner rather than later. And finally I'll leave you with a little gem called BulletGBA (via IC), "Please enjoy bullet hell anytime and anywhere with GBA." Happy shooting!

[Jeremiah Johnson is co-founder of chipmusic and computer-art collective, 8bitpeoples.com based out of New York City. Working with Game Boys and NES consoles to create music, he has been featured in various publications ranging from Wired to Vogue.]