~ KYUUKYOKU TIGER ~
If you've played other stone-age vertical shooters, then you're probably familiar with the template used here. Fields, seas, and generic military bases make for backdrops as you blast up lots of tiny boats, tanks, and aircraft. Occasionally, a larger, tougher boat, tank, or aircraft shows up and fires bullets by the bunches. And in true Raiden style, the bosses really pour on the projectiles. Actually, Raiden does ever so little more to deviate from the prehistoric norms by eventually taking its battle to outer space. There are no interstellar odysseys to be experienced here... but there are plenty of small helicopters.
Surprisingly enough, Kyuukyoku Tiger is extremely enjoyable. Sure, like Raiden, it's laughably outdated thematically and visually, but it makes up for that with good action and exciting music. In fact, it ends up kicking Raiden's ass, though it sports similarly lame boss designs. Redundancy, too, plagues the end-of-level encounters. Behold:
But taking on these deadly double teams and avoiding the batches of bullets they send at you is a lot of fun, regardless of their simplistic shells.
You can bust 'em up with four different types of weapons, which might seem like a huge assortment when compared with Raiden's limited two-trick system but hardly comes off as impressive when contrasted with the deep gun supplies offered in PCE vertical stars Spriggan and Final Soldier. Still, wielding a powered-up red vulcan or blue Contra-type spreadshot is supremely enjoyable, as you can do serious damage all across the screen.
Building up to that mighty level of firepower can be an annoying process at times simply because the icons you need to snatch tend to drift towards the top of the playfield, leading you directly into harm's way. But such a minor gameplay flaw is easily negated by the otherwise fair, fast, consistent action. While some oldies allow you to snooze for stretches before abruptly sending out huge machines to raze your ass, Tiger keeps you active by filling the screen with lots of enemies and bullets without ever recruiting any sort of unfair entity to challenge you with. And while it ain't cheap, it certainly is exciting, and in some spots it might actually push you to your bullet-dodging limits.