Raiden Fighters is a vertical-scrolling shoot-'em-up developed and released by Seibu Kaihatsu (along with Fabtek in the North America release) for arcades (using their Seibu SPI hardware) in 1996.
It is a spin-off of the Raiden series, and was not originally planned to have the Raiden name (with the initial location test name of Gun Dogs). It builds on the formula of Raiden II / DX and Viper Phase-1 with multiple aircraft to choose from (each with their own size, speed, and sub-weapons), an Option system (where a certain power-up gives special companion ships), and the ability to super-charge sub-weapon attacks.
It later received two sequels, Raiden Fighters 2 and Raiden Fighters Jet, and was included in two compilations: the 2019 Raiden Fighters Aces and the 2012 Raiden Legacy.
The game includes seven playable aircraft, each with their own performance and weaponry. Five of them, the Gun Dogs, are always available by default:
- Aegis - Balanced aircraft, with a main cannon that can fire multiple shots in a wide arc. The Laser sub-weapon fires volleys of homing plasma rays from the back of the ship, while the Missile sub-weapon fires volleys of cruise missiles from the front.
- Beast Arrow - Very slow maneuvering, with a main cannon that can fire multiple smaller shots in a very wide arc. Its sub-weapons are powerful, with the Laser firing multiple laser blasts in front and the Missile firing twin volleys of homing missiles.
- Chaser - Very fast maneuvering, with a main cannon that rapidly-fires large shots in a straight line. Its sub-weapons are weaker but quick-firing, with the Laser firing twin plasma blasts that locks onto enemies and the Missile quickly firing cruise missiles from both sides (which attempt to converge onto enemies).
- Devastator - Slow maneuvering, with a main cannon that fires multiple shots (normal and small) in a wide arc. Its sub-weapons are powerful, with the Laser firing multiple instantaneous electric beams that lock onto enemies and the Missile firing slow volleys of very powerful missiles in front.
- Endeavor - Slow maneuvering, with a main cannon that rapidly-fires multiple shots with minimal spread. Its sub-weapons are specialized, with the Laser firing multiple laser blasts at different forward angles and the Missile deploying twin volleys of timed mines (which can destroy enemy bullets).
The two remaining aircraft are from Seibu Kaihatsu's earlier games as guest appearances. Some arcade configurations have them locked, requiring a cheat code to access. They differ from the main five in both their weapon usage (as they use both sub-weapons simultaneously, with no main cannon nor access to charged attacks) and Bomb attack usage (as they have unique ones from their corresponding games, and start with one extra).
- Raiden mk-II - From Raiden II / Raiden DX. Very slow maneuvering. Its Laser sub-weapon fires twin plasma shots at a fast rate, with upgrades transforming it into a continuous plasma beam that sways with the ship and locks-onto enemies. Its Missile sub-weapon launches volleys of homing missiles.
- Judge Spear - From Viper Phase-1. Insanely fast maneuvering. Its sub-weapons are fast-firing but all fire in a straight spread in front of the ship, with the Laser firing multiple vulcan shots at a faster pace and the Missile firing twin missiles at a slower pace.
In addition, through a special cheat code and on arcade configurations where the guest aircraft are unlocked, players can play as a hidden "Slave" variant of their currently selected aircraft. While they share the same appearance as the ship's companions (and thus have a smaller hitbox) and share the ship's maneuvering speed, all variants have the same weaponry (based on the companion ship's high-powered shots, with no sub-weapons or charged attacks).