Raiden is a woefully under-appreciated character. As a wrestler type, he is obviously slow-moving. Some people might be turned off by this, but in reality, his special moves are lightning quick and deceptive, properties usually only found in ninja-types.
His regular moves lack any kind of dependable anti-air, which is a big Raiden turn-off. It’s true that if you don’t have time to wind up with the Acid Breath in a hurry, you’re pretty screwed when someone jumps in quickly. However, there is something you can do to make you (literally) invincible in the anti-air department.
Roll cancel Drop Kicks. If anyone tries any kind of jump-in attack that’s too high or too late for an Acid Breath, you can get out a Drop Kick instantly, and it always hits everything, save for the tallest-arched jumps.
This means, of course, that you’ll always be needing to hold down three kick buttons to have this at the ready… or do you? As you have probably figured out with any PPP or KKK move, you only need to hit/hold down two kicks to do the special move, so use this to your advantage. Use your middle and ring fingers to press Forward and Roundhouse (you can use the backside of your fingers/knuckles to press them down more easily) to free up your index finger and thumb for jab and short. Simply roll, and immediately lift up your other two fingers, and you’ll have an invincible Drop Kick.
If you’re new to roll cancelling, don’t fret. This is probably the easiest roll cancel you’ll ever do, because you can’t mess it up. Just roll, and then right when you know you’ve hit the roll command, let go of the two kicks. Even those new to the roll cancel can easily pull this off, because it’s pretty brainless to do.
Anyway, since you can roll instantly, you’ll be invincible instantly, meaning you nail someone with a Drop Kick even if they do a super (or air super) at point-blank range! Of course, if you anticipate a jump-in by the other person, you’ll want to stick with the Acid Breath, but remember that the recovery time on it is piss poor. Drop Kick recovery isn’t nearly as bad, and you’re invincible for the first half of it. (Of course, you could also RC Acid Breath, but again, by the time you’re done with the breath, the invincibility is over and you’re still a sitting duck.)
After you do a sequence of punishing any kind of jump-in attack with the RC Drop Kick, and dissuading jumping in general with the occasional Acid Breath, they’ll stay grounded, and that’s when you can come in with Raiden in force.
You’ll have two options to attack: Jump in with the uber-priority airborne down+HP, or simply walk your way in, using the Shoulder Charge to cause your opponent to whiff close- to mid-range attacks. Note that you can still be holding down the two kicks while doing this, so you can RC a Drop Kick whenever needed.
If you go the jump-in route, realize that you’re going to have to mix up the timing/execution of the body flop move. Do it early, do it later, don’t do it at all and go for the 360+K throw, do other good air-to-ground moves (regular HP, LK and MK), etc. However, any character with decent anti-air or uppercut move will tear you down pretty quickly, so you’ll want to stick more with the ground game if you start to over-abuse the air game.
For the ground, you almost never want to use the shoulder charge in the open. Anyone who sees it coming will just block all the way and punish you for it. Instead, if you feel that your opponent is coming into their sweep or poke range, block once or twice to bait them to continue doing it, then do a regular (MP) Shoulder Charge. As a general rule, the closer you are to someone who you know is attacking, the quicker the “ready-go!” part should be. Remember, you are invinicible for the startup sequence, and have good ground-to-ground priority during the charge, and has better recovery the later in the charge it hits.
So with that, once you take away the air game with the RC Drop Kick and Acid Breath, and keep them cautious with the ground game, then you can start going in with the Bodyblow Combo (reverse dragon punch) and Lariat Drops (dragon punch). If you can RC the DP motion on the Bodyblow, that’s great, but otherwise, it’s rather safe to go in as it’s really quick. Use the punch follow up (qcf+P) for a second hit and pop-up, or if the first hit is blocked, use the kick follow up (qcf+K) for a quick throw. If they’re too busy trying to move away from you or something else funny, a quick Lariat throw at middle-short range will render anything they do just about useless.
And finally, Raiden’s supers, all three of which are extremely useful. He’s got the regular ground super in the Crazy Train, anti-air super in the Flame Breath, and a throw super in the Destructo Drop. Each one obviously has its own properties, and you can land one in any situation. Really nothing needs to be said about them other than they’re good to use after a blocked Shoulder Charge if the range is right.
That’s my detailed breakdown of Raiden for those who really have no idea how to use him or are looking for a powerful character to round out your team. Below are tips and suggestions for each of Raiden’s special moves, when you should (and shouldn’t) use them, and a few other quirks about his game.
Command Move: Forward Crouch+Roundhouse
Raiden stomps down on the ground with his forward foot. Looks pointless and harmless, but it can squash down any kind of diving low attack. This includes Cammy’s Canon Drill, and I believe it can even squash a Canon Spike(!) if timed correctly. Do this move a lot to bait/remind people that you are invincible.
Shoulder Charge: Charge Back, Forward+Kick
After you input the move, you immediately go into the “ready” position, which has dodge properties. The harder the punch, the longer the delay to the “go!” portion, which is a quick charge. Use the MP version to setup the shorter and longer delays. This move can be thrown out of, so don’t abuse this move.
Acid Breath: hcb+Punch
This is your early jump anti-air. You will almost NEVER use full power on this move, because the opponent can get in two or three taunts by the time you’ve recovered from it. The LP version comes out quick and has the slowest recovery, so use it unless someone has a floaty or tall jump, in which case try the MP so it stays out a little longer.
Drop Kick: Charge KKK, Release
The longer you hold it down, the faster, longer and harder the kick comes out. You will almost always want to roll cancel this because it’s easy to do, and the invincibility you gain from it makes it unstoppable in the air. Note that if you hold down all three kicks and let go of one, the move will still come out, leaving you with the time to roll cancel another one instantly, if necessary.
Bodyblow Combo: Reverse Dragon Punch
You can hit any punch to activate this, they all come out the same. The first hit is a good priority and does massive guard crush damage. After you do this move, you can link it directly into a…
Combo Headbutt: qcf+Punch
This is always a nice move to do if they are close to you,
because if they block both hits, it does huge guard crush
and is relatively safe. If it does hit, it pops them up and
you can do a Lv3 Flame Breath super.
Combo Throw: qcf+Kick
Raiden will pause for a brief moment, then go in for a quick
throw. Handy for turtlers, but you are vulnerable to those
who see it coming.
Lariat Drop: Dragon Punch
Raiden jumps in and instantly lands with the enemy on the ground. The distances and punch strenghts are really tricky to figure out, but once you do, you can totally screw people up. Be advised that you’re a sitting duck if you miss, so use this one sparingly.
Thunder Crush: 360+K
This is a great roll-in move, jump in move, or just close move altogether. Just like with all command throws, they can whiff if you aren’t right next to the enemy.
So, that’s my analisys of Raiden. The basic summary of him is this: Use RC Drop Kicks and Acid Breath to keep foes grounded, use the Shoulder Charges to get in close, then go in close with rolls and Thunder Crush and then do Bodyblow Combos once you’ve established your presence. Remember, the vital tactic when using Raiden is TO KEEP ENEMIES ON THE GROUND.
If you have any other Raiden questions or strategies, please do post them here. More people should use Raiden!