Developer: Mountain King Studios
Publisher: 3D Realms (DOS) / Mountain King Studios (Windows)
Release: 1994 / 1999 / 2010
Platform: DOS / Windows / iPhone
OFLC Rating: G
For those of familiar with the classic top-down scrolling shooter games featuring an aircraft unleashing mass devastation upon rows of enemy fighters and installations, then games like this one will come to mind. Raptor came out in latter years when these arcade shooters were popular as arcade machines, console and PC games. In fact you could say (arguably) that Raptor was inspired by the classic arcade series Raiden as the overall art style is very similar. The general gameplay and art style is as far as it goes with being alike. However unlike Raiden not only can you pick up sustaining power-ups in play, but you can also purchase that and more between levels.
Okay let’s start with the general gameplay, themes and story…
The story behind Raptor is very vague as it suggests in the narrative that this is set in the near future, you are a mercenary hired by a “Mega-Corporation” to bring down their competition by destroying assets. As for the detailed story you get that from themes of the game.
The game has three episodes and nine levels to each, all lasting between three to five minutes give or take. So you can expect to finish this game in two hours or less, that by the way isn’t taking into account the replay. The episodes. Bravo Sector covers a barren landscape with a number of oil silos along the way, this would suggest somewhere out in the Middle-East when you put that with the finale having blown up an oil rig.
Tango Sector takes you through rural areas, lush tropical jungles and urban city centres which would suggest somewhere in South America or the Caribbean Sea.
The Outer Regions takes you across lunar surfaces, other planets/satellites that feature ice and volcanic environments with the finale on a space station. It would be obvious that you’re not on Earth.
Put all that together and with some imagination the whole story sounds a lot like a conspiracy theory.
The Raptor itself (visually) is a cross between the Mikoyan MiG-31 Foxhound and the Saab 37 Viggen.
The game is quite simple… The level automatically scrolls away with each threat appearing on cue the same time every time. You can pick up energy cells to sustain your core systems and shields, weapons and other cash bonuses. Yes you get cash in this game from blowing anything and everything up, it’s the score at the top of the screen. To get these pickups you blow up bunkers and certain ships. Now provided you haven’t crashed and burned, between levels you can browse and purchase from sustaining powerups like energy cells and super shields, to an advanced arsenal selection available to fit out the Raptor with.
The weapons can be categorised into a number sets and classes…
It won’t tell the sets each weapon belongs to but here are the four types of weapons. Air to Air. Air to Surface. Smart (hits Threats and targets of interest). Dumbfire (hits anything).
As for the classes it will tell you quite clearly below the weapon name, these are Always Equipped (Primary Weapons), Selectable (Secondary Weapons) and Special.
Let’s cover the weapons…
MG21C Reaver Twin Machine Guns – Dumbfire – Primary
These are fitted as “Standard” on the Raptor… Unless of course you’re stupid enough to sell these.
Firestorm – Air to Air – Primary
This plasma cannon packs a nice little punch and is well worth equipping early on in the game.
Micro-Missile – Smart – Primary
These things have a similar firing rate to the Reavers and pack a harder punch.
AIM-31 Mauler – Air to Air – Secondary
These can be picked in play throughout the game. With the damage they deal to air targets, the Maulers make nice early-game weapon.
AGM-26L Banshee – Air to Surface – Secondary
Along with the Maulers these can along be picked up throughout the game. The Banshees are like the Maulers, only they hit ground targets instead.
MK-133 – Air to Surface – Secondary
The bomb packs a reasonable punch, but not enough to impress.
DM1R Psycho – Dumbfire – Secondary
The Psycho is a dumbfire missile that fires out from the sides, making this weapon great to spread around. These like Maulers and Banshees can be picked up throughout the game.
AARL-1201 Scatterpack – Air to Air – Secondary
If you’re in the mood for Air to Air missiles, then Scatterpack is the option to consider if you should feel the need to spend hard earned money. The Scatterpack fires missiles faster than which the rate Maulers are distributed into the air and pack are harder punch.
Disrupter – Air to Air – Secondary
A power disrupter sounds useful, but really isn’t. With a high rate of fire, and charges that pack a very light punch the Disrupter is designed to short out an enemies’ weapons for a couple seconds.
TH19 Thor – Smart – Secondary
For the most part this is the weapon you will be using along side your primary weapons. With the Thor’s ability to fire upon targets from anywhere on the screen, this is the first secondary weapon you would ideally tick off from your wishlist.
OD55 Odin – Air to Air – Secondary
Like the Thor, the Odin laser can fire from anywhere. The downside is that can only fire Air to Air, whereas it makes up for any shortcomings with a punch double to that of the Thor. This is a great weapon for one-on-ones with an airborne boss, beyond that it’s not a goto weapon.
RX1 Tsunami – Dumbfire – Secondary
The one weapon capable of unleashing destruction upon anything and everything! Whilst the enemy’s pulse cannons pack a weak punch (a single shot that is), this pulse cannon packs one three to five times harder. When you have shots firing at a rate that can give your Reavers a run for their money, the Tsunami is a weapon worth saving for!
MSIL-Atlas – Smart – Secondary
The deathray is a weapon that can make short work of any target! This weapon can even impale several targets with a single shot!
CAL-10 Eclipse – Smart – Secondary
With double the firepower of the MSIL-Atlas, the Eclipse is the ultimate weapon. When facing aerial bosses the Eclipse is the silver bullet!
CBU-80 Guillotine – Dumbfire – Special
The Megabomb is the most common weapon pickup throughout the entire game and you are limited to carrying no more than five at any given time. Drop one of these to do some serious damage across the entire screen within in a flash!
To explain how the weapons work Primary and Secondary fire together, whilst the Megabombs are bound to a separate trigger. Now that’s cleared up…
Ideally the best load-out for the Raptor includes equipping the Ion Scanner (shows boss health), all three Primary weapons, the Thor, the Odin, the Tsunami and the Eclipse along with fully stocking up on Shields and Megabombs. This I found to be one of the most successful load-out when playing Raptor.
Visually Raptor looks like pretty good for a DOS game from ’94. Sound wise it’s not bad either, but when you take the sympathiser soundtrack by Bobby Prince it sounds pretty awesome!
With the difficulty setting you really have three to choose from, despite being four available.
Training Mode is great if you’re looking to see what action is like as it only plays the first four levels of each episode on easy.
Rookie is the easy setting.
Veteran is the “Normal” setting with an increased number of enemies, defences and tougher bosses.
Elite is the hardest setting throwing more enemies at you.
With each time you beat the game Raptor restarts on a harder setting, this gives some replay value to along with the desire to “Acquire” weapons on your wishlist honestly.
Overall Raptor: Call of the Shadows is a very entertaining game if you love arcade top-down scrolling shooters. A concluding note… With the two versions you have the original DOS version (as reviewed) published by 3D Realms (under the name Apogee Software) from 1994 and the independent release of the Windows-Native version by developer Mountain King Studios (originally called Cygnus Studios) from 1999.