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Affectionately dubbed the "toothpaste laser" by shoot-em-ups.com, this long purple rope of death sways as you move left and right to sweep over fodder.
If you hit a large enemy, the plasma beam locks onto them and drains their life to nil.
Those dastardly Crassanians are causing more havoc, and it's up to Raiden's pilot (i.e., you) to send them back to the asteroid belt out of which they materialized.
Released three years after the first game, Raiden II offers more challenge and intensity than the first as all good sequels should do.
The first stage pits you against a large spider-legged tank before introducing you to a second spider tank, much how the first game unnerved you with two regular big tanks.
Stage 5's boss is particularly impressive with three phases; it starts off as a giant ship slowly blasting off from a runway, but as you destroy it before it can even leave the ground, it launches out a smaller (but still much bigger than you) aircraft that's even deadlier, whose blue armor is blown away to reveal an even more vicious red jet fighter!
Neat touches are abound in the graphics, like the scant pieces of debris that fly around after destroying enemy vehicles.
The sound design is essentially the same as the first with a new original soundtrack that's just as kickass as the first with a bit less repetition to boot.
As in the first game, you get either a wide shot or straight laser for your main weapon and either napalm or homing missiles for your secondary weapon.
This is a really damn cool weapon, albeit more difficult to properly use than the red or blue ones.
In addition to the classic large-explosion red nukes, you can also pick up yellow B icons that give you a really awesome cluster bomb.
The finale at the Crassanian Headquarters reveals none other than that damned red diamond as the final boss, and as it has nowhere to fly away now, it blitzes you with a myriad of projectiles as it summons smaller diamonds to help give a bad end to your long journey.
Even with just one player, the game is a hell of a challenge and a well-designed shoot-em-up without any prominent faults.