Everything old becomes new with time, but archaic experiences aren’t always as fun as they are novel. Lightning Warrior Raidy is an iconic classic, but how well has it aged?
Lightning Warrior Raidy is an erotic, dungeon-crawling RPG that was developed and published by ZyX in Japan in 1994 for PC-98. The game was later ported to Windows in 1996, and finally received an English release in 2008. Lightning Warrior Raidy was popular enough to spawn three sequels: the second game released in 1995, just a year after the first entry, but the third and fourth entries would come much later — in 2012 and 2015, respectively. Additionally, there have been four manga adaptations for the franchise.
In the first entry we follow the game’s namesake, Lightning Warrior Raidy, as she climbs an ominous tower in order to liberate the women imprisoned within, facing the fiendish perpetrators along the way.
The story of Lightning Warrior Raidy is really as simple as the summary I’ve provided above. Right at the start of the game we see Raidy recapping the events of the past few days in her head: she’s stopped at an unusual village and asked why all its inhabitants seem to be of old age. In response, she was told that fiends flooded out of the nearby tower and kidnapped their young women. The able-bodied men ran after them, but they never returned. Unwilling to turn a blind eye, Raidy embarks into the tower.
The inside of the tower is where the entire game plays out as a very rudimentary dungeon crawler. Raidy moves along a grid across the tower’s many corridors, seeking chests with useful items and locations of interest. Every time she takes a step, there’s a chance that a monster will attack her, initiating a turn-based battle.
While fighting, Raidy can attack, defend, drink a potion, or call lightning with her blade, after which her opponent will either attack or defend themselves. The provided options don’t offer much complexity. Defending has no purpose in the game, as it barely affects damage received and enemies neither telegraph their attacks nor behave in patterns. There are only three potions to worry about: health, mana, and the poison antidote, to be used as needed. The only question becomes when to attack with melee and when to spend magic on lightning.
The normal and magic attacks differ not just in damage but also by the fact that magical strikes never miss. Raidy’s magical attack consumes half her current mana and scales to do more damage based upon how much mana she had at the time. This adds a level of decision-making to how you manage your MP, but not nearly enough to make the combat interesting.
Each floor of the dungeon features three unique opponents to face, and only those three, who can usually be divided into the weak, strong, and strongest. This leads to a linear — and rather boring — difficulty curve. You can usually tell if you’re ready to explore a floor within a fight of two, and if you aren’t, there’s not much reason to do so. The only way to recover HP and MP is to find potions or get them for winning a fight, meaning that you will almost always have limited resources. As a result, if you don’t mindlessly grind level-ups when you need to, you’ll end up in hot water sooner or later. Thankfully, you won’t have to do that too often, as you’ll do most of your fighting while looking for the stairs to the next floor.
In all, there are only six floors to explore in Lightning Warrior Raidy, each introducing a new type of obstacle. The mechanic will likely be familiar to you if you’ve played a dungeon crawler before. It can be anything from a fake wall to a teleportation tile, though as a rule none of the traps are deadly. Their only purpose is to confuse you, and provide a puzzle to solve.
In fact, I’d be willing to say that confusion is the main challenge you have to face while playing Lightning Warrior Raidy. Some games test your dexterity, management skills, or strategic ability, but here you have to face your ever-slipping sense of direction.
This comes mainly from the fact that Lightning Warrior Raidy doesn’t feature an automatic mapping system. It is something that we take for granted in modern games, and something that wasn’t very necessary in many old titles. In the case of Lightning Warrior Raidy, where every corridor of the dungeon looks exactly the same way, navigation becomes an actual challenge.
To beat the game legitimately, you’ll be forced to whip out a checkered notebook and a pen or a pencil, I do not see this game being beaten any other way. Sooner or later the teleports, fake walls, secret objectives, and increasingly longer fights will make you forget where you are in relation to the points of interest you need to keep track of. A map of each floor can be found somewhere within it, meaning that you won’t have to draw the entire level, but you’re hoping to just get lucky if you decide not to take notes.
I was genuinely surprised how much of a difference the absence of an automated minimap has made to my experience of the game. Reviewing it so long after its initial release, I wanted to experience Lightning Warrior Raidy the way it was designed, so I stubbornly drew out my own maps. With all sincerity, it wasn’t my cup of tea. Figuring out how a teleportation tile worked had some satisfaction to it, but most of the time it felt frustrating and dull. You can look up maps online, but doing so will strip the game of its only unique feature, boiling it down to a grindy RPG about navigating monotonous corridors in search of floor bosses.
Said bosses are quite repetitive in gameplay, as they’re simply beefier enemies with unique sprites, but feature designs varied enough to remain interesting. Each floor of the tower has a different mistress mistreating the captured women, abusing them with a different form of BDSM — from whipping and candles, to wooden horses and enemas. Sadly, their personalities are repetitive: they enjoy torturing others and share in hubris that leads to their downfall at Raidy’s hands. At the same time, they all hate being on the receiving end of the fetishes they torment the kidnapped women with.
We find that out thanks to Raidy who, through her comical lack of self-awareness and blind desire for justice, punishes each of the boss characters with the exact same torture they inflicted on their respective captives. Obviously, losing in a boss fight will lead to Raidy receiving some sort of sexually explicit humiliation instead, which sadly can happen at no fault of the player, given the way the dungeons have been designed.
Boss rooms, among other places in the dungeon, are event locations. Once entered, they showcase a CG and present narration to the player, then provide a couple of choices. These choices offer no actual gameplay, as Raidy won’t move forward unless all dialogue options were exhausted. However, she also won’t leave the room unless she has an explicit option to do so, which doesn’t pop-up inside boss rooms. At the same time, if Raidy confronts a boss before she learns about its weak point somewhere on the floor she’s on, she will be instantly defeated by the floor’s guardian.
This means that entering a boss room by accident is a game over, and as mentioned earlier, every single corridor in the game looks the same. This includes entryways to the boss rooms, which are indistinguishable from all other others, leading to a phobia of doors: there’s simply no reason to enter a room without saving, making the exploration further annoying.
This isn’t to say that there aren't good points to the game’s exploration. Each floor has one equipment item to be found, either a weapon or a piece of armor, which always feels satisfying to find due to how significant a boost they provide. There are also some optional sex scenes to be discovered, including the game’s only consensual scenario in which Raidy, in all her glorious wisdom, begrudgingly decides to prostitute herself to a man who offered to give her “something she’ll probably find useful,” while refusing to tell her what it actually is.
The explicit scenarios themselves were quite enjoyable to explore. While each encounter shares a very similar narrative tone to the rest, they offer varied fetishes, good quality of artwork, and often feature an unobtrusive sprinkling of comedy stemming form Raidy’s righteous but oblivious personality.
The artwork’s most noticeable quality is its use of complex poses. Characters are often shown at dynamic angles while performing expressive actions, generating a sense of depth. The game features very varied designs, which work great in the case of bosses, but provide mixed results for common monsters, who often resemble cosplayers, taking away from the atmosphere, or perhaps pushing the tone further towards a comedy.
Outside of artworks, the game’s presentation is terrible, since we’re looking at the same wall and floor tiles all the time. Well, one of the floors is an exception to that, using an entirely different set, however while different from the previous floors, it is used in the exact same way, with one wall, door, and floor tile being repeated through the entire level. This makes judging the game’s art quality difficult, as both the CGs and level aesthetics share key importance to the experience. However, the drab dungeon design does have a level of necessity to itself, given the manner in which the game attempts to challenge the player.
As you explore said repetitive corridors, you’ll get to listen to the game’s fifteen music tracks. Given that Lightning Warrior Raidy features only six dungeon floors, that’s more than enough variety to keep the OST fresh. Majority of the songs are very dynamic and heroic in tone, the audio never failed to hype me up when it needed to, though there are also some somber tones to provide the adequate mood when necessary.
I’ll say this: Lightning Warrior Raidy is interesting, but not worth the time for most people. The game took me over seven hours to beat. You can explore some floors faster than others, but the need to grind experience will slow you down if you do too well. If mapping out a dungeon as you seek your way forward sounds fun, try it, if it doesn’t, the game has little else to offer. The story is very bare-bones, and while Raidy has a charming personality, she doesn’t do enough to justify fighting against the game’s obtuse design if you don’t find doing so inherently enjoyable.