Raptor: Call of the Shadows. A vertical, raster-based shooter, the game arrived in a decade that saw the “shoot-em-up” genre begin to wane in popularity.
So how was Cyngus Studio’s Raptor? How has it aged since it’s initial release in 1994? Read on, for the answers lie below!
First thing you should know, according to 3D Realms (formerly Apogee), is that “this ain’t no dinosaur game.” That’s right, there is not a single dinosaur to be seen in the game. While disappointing for the dinosaur fans out there, the fact is that, “in the future, as a mercenary flying the super-tech Raptor, you’ll be sent on interplanetary missions to knock off top competitors of MegaCorp.” The truth is that the Raptor is your ship, and not a reference to the cuddly creatures seen in such hits such as Jurassic Park, and We’re Back. Pity that.
Divided into three sections, each consisting of nine levels, the game contains 27 levels of pure, unadulterated fun. Featuring waves of varied enemy aircraft, turrets, watercraft, tanks, and motherships, the game provides a never-boring selection of enemies in which you can gun down at your leisure.
One of the major complaints of the game at the time however is the seeming simpleness of the game compared to contemporary arcade shoot-em-ups of the time. Enemies move purely in static motions across the screen, never reacting to your ships actions. The game also doesn’t feature gradual weapon upgrades via enemies “drops.” You instead spend the majority of the time saving the money you earn from destroying enemies, which can be used to buy weapons in a shop. In addition to the shops, weapons can be found during levels in destructible buildings. While these things proved to be a point of criticism for some at the time, and since, I do not find they make for a bad game at all.
The game also does not feature a life system. Once your character dies, you are simply dead, and must either restart the game anew, or load from a previous save. Ship damage is negated via shields which regenerate when the player is not firing. There are however bonus phase shields which can be bought from the shop, however these can only take a fixed amount of damage, and must be repurchased once depleted. These things make for a difficult, yet rewarding, game, as the threat of death is a much larger loss.
One of the main issues present in the game however is a glitch involving the weapons system. I have to admit, I figured this out early on when I originally played the game back in the mid 90’s, and perhaps abused it substantially. As mentioned, you can find weapons within the various levels throughout the game. Normally, upon the completion of the level, you would then keep this weapon, and have the option to sell it in the shop if you did not want it. However, the glitch in question allows you to keep any found weapons if you abort a mission. While any money you made in the level does not get kept if you abort early, found weapon do for some reason. This allows you to do partial runs of levels, collect a weapon, and then immediately abort and sell it in the shop. With this, you can accumulate money somewhat rapidly, and buy advanced weapons long before you should be able to.
Overall, Raptor: Call of the Shadows is an addictive, challenging game that should be a must-play for any PC aficionados, or people who like games in general. The graphics hold up remarkably well to this day, and the soundtrack is fantastic. You can get an updated, Windows-compatible version now from Good Old Games.