Express Raider Review – Worth Choo-Choosing?

ExpressRaider-1

Express Raider is the second Data East arcade game turned into a Mini by G1M2. Although I lived through the heyday of the video game arcade, I have only vague recollections of seeing it and none of actually ever playing it. It does seem to have had several ports to platforms of the day (1986), so apparently it was popular.

Although it’s called Express Raider, a more accurate name would be Train Robber. You play a lone desperado who has designs on a train’s loot. In some ways it’s almost two games in one, because you have two different methods of robbing the train. One is basically a sidescrolling beat ‘em up, where you battle your way onto the train, then go from car to car until you reach the engineer. The other is shooting it out with the passengers and crew of the train from horseback.

You start off with the brawling stage, at the train station. Your first opponent is a bank clerk, who is easily dispatched. Then for some reason you are attacked by waves of coyotes. You then jump on the back of the train, where you must continue your battles until you reach the locomotive. Each car has a different opponent. Some are brawlers, some throw things, some even shoot at you. The variety is actually quite impressive, though you do have to wonder why all these people are riding on the top of the train.

ExpressRaider-2

You and your opponent have a quickly regenerating health bar. So in order to beat your opponent, you need to strike him several times in a row, or close to it. This can be tricky, because further complicating matters, each fight has a time limit. At first, the train will just leave the station. But once on top of it, after a while, someone sets a bomb will will uncouple the rest of the train – when it happens, you lose a life(though why you couldn’t just rob the separated cars is beyond me). You also need to duck every time one of those mail pick-up things go past, otherwise you lose a good chunk of your health.

Then there is a shooting stage. Just why you didn’t think to use your gun on the previous stage is beyond me. But this time the train is moving down the tracks, while you are to its side, riding your trusty horse. People occasionally pop out of the traincar’s windows or behind boxes in a boxcar and shoot at you, while you shoot back. Your aim depends on where your horse is, it’s rather tricky. Once in a while a passenger pops out and throws money at you.

Expect to die a lot in this stage

Expect to die a lot in this stage

You seemingly need to kill a certain amount of opponents per car to move to another one. There are little red boxes at the top of the screen that indicate your progress. Once done with that, then you go back to a fighting stage, except this time the train goes in the opposite direction (right to left on the screen). Time time you also have to deal with train tunnels. And after that, there is another horseriding and shooting stage, again, right to left, the opposite of the original.

There are quite a number of options to set – difficulty, number of lives, bonuses, controls and so forth. Like Lock N’ Chase, the “Stretch Screen” option actually just turns off the cabinet art (which fills out the rest of the screen). (Correction – it does actually make the playing field large in addition to removing the art.) You can also save and load games, which is quite handy, especially if you want to replay a stage without playing the preceding one.

Better duck.

Better duck.

To me, at least compared to the videos of the game on Youtube (where these pics came from, as pictures of the PSP version were unavailable at press time), the graphics look washed out and faded. And I played it on a PSP-3000, which has the intense colors.

While it’s not a very realistic depiction of train robbing (the real trick was avoiding the posse afterwards) it’s actually pretty fun, if more than a little hard. Indeed, it’s one of those games that lets you continue, which I think were made deliberately hard so you would keep pumping in quarters. As you can set the number of lives you have to infinite (not to mention, coins don’t cost you anything) that’s not a problem.

Score: 7/10

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Comments

7 Responses to “Express Raider Review – Worth Choo-Choosing?”
  1. Solo the Hutt says:

    i dunno … this looks really dated. and not interesting enough for me to spend time on , no matter what the price.

    On another note,
    I’ve yet to see a review that’s less than 7 out of 10. Surely there’s a mini that’s not worth the time/money?

    Can we have a page where it lists all the minis that’s been reviewed with their scores? (without going through a dozen pages)?

  2. JeremyR says:

    Well, it’s a 24 year old arcade game, so yeah, it’s going to look a bit dated (though it is funny how the older vector graphic stuff seems to hold up better). But I found the gameplay to be fun and diverse, enough so I actually bought it with my own money.

    Personally, I’ve given Lock N Chase a 6.5, Gold Fever a 5.5, Robin Hood a 3.5, Reef Aquarium a 5. And most of the Sony minis scored low, I gave one of them a 1.

    Generally speaking though, I grade on school paper scale. A = 9, B=8, C=7, D= 6, F = 5 and below.

  3. Solo the Hutt says:

    Thanks!
    I guess i didn’t click on the reviews for those particular games.
    :)

    So, a page with just the list of games and their review scores next to them will be good.
    That’s my feedback anyway

  4. Scott says:

    Thank you for the great review of Express Raider for PSN Minis. The stretch mode does increase the size of the gameplay field a little bit – whereas the mode with the background graphics is a 1:1 pixel match with the arcade version.

    The comments of washed out colors versus the Youtube video might be comparing the arcade version (which the PSN Minis version is based on) versus the Commodore 64 version – which has different graphics.

    We hope you like our other PSP Minis games. We are hoping to bring more classics to Minis soon.

  5. JeremyR says:

    D’oh. Indeed, now that I try it, the stretch mode does make it bigger. Didn’t notice it, just the art disappearing. It’s hard to tell the size of something on a dark background…

  6. Steve Norman says:

    Wow, I’d forgotten all about this one! I’m a sucker for these old things I used to play in my early teens, and the graphics just add to the nostalgic charm for me at least. Definitely getting this one.

  7. Chris Sobieniak says:

    It’s great otherwise to get these rare gems released in any way possible. I hope G1M2 will continue to produce more classic Data East games as PSP Minis in the future. Seeing many classic arcade games I love being released as Minis is a good idea as long as they stay true to the classic look I remember them growing up.

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