Middle-Aged gamer's collection - R-Type "Box Set"

davyK's picture

R-Type Delta (PS1)
R-Type Final (PS2)

The shmup genre has many landmark titles scattered across its early history; but there are influential shmups and then there is R-Type. Its main innovation, the force orb which can be attached to either end of the ship or left to wander free may open up all sorts of possibilities - but R-Type's levels are pretty strict - it is a trial and error memory based shooter which probably wouldn't be successful today - so the creativity hinted at by the force orbs isn't entirely realised. Still, these games deliver lots of entertainment despite this and their high difficulty level, and are still well loved by shmup fans.

The first two titles in the series were released in the arcade in 1987 and 1989 and despite there being many valiant efforts to recreate it in the home it was 10 years before mainstream gaming facilitated their arcade perfect release in the home. They were both released on one disc for the PS1 called "R-Types" and even the PAL edition is optimised to run full screen. The domestic TV suits horizontal shooters so there is no compromise with image size and no need to mess around with TATE modes. Plonk this in the drive and transport yourself back to the late 80s. There are some art galleries and other little bonuses on the disc too.

R-Type Leo wandered into the arcade in 1992 and didn't get a home port (at least as far as I know) but the R-Type series is unusual in that all subsequent games were released for the home. R-Type Leo is the odd one in the pack - you don't have a force module to control and it doesn't really feel much like R-Type.

The SNES got the technically iffy Super R-Type early in its life but this was followed by the brilliant R-Type III: The Third Lightning which introduces a selection of 3 different ships and forces to pick from making the game play differently. The old SNES really is stretched - many of its built-in tricks are used to full effect and it will stutter from time to time but it doesn't have an adverse effect on gameplay.

Continuing the "home only" release schedule the PS1 got R-Type Delta shortly after R-Types. PAL gamers had to wait the longest but there are no complaints as again, the PAL edition is optimised without a border in sight. Being released on the PS1 meant that the developers introduced certain 3D elements to the game - but only in the look. The game is still a 2D shooter and thankfully the developers didn't bow to the pressure of the 3D-mania that was prevelant at the time (certainly in Europe and US at any rate).

R-Type Final appeared on the PS2 16 years after the arcade original. It seems Irem are staying true to their word as no R-Type shmup has appeared since. Final left us with plenty to chew on though - 101 ships, 53 force orbs, 12 orbiting bit orbs, 10 missile and bomb types and five different dose attacks (a smart bomb that is powered up when your force orb absorbs fire and enemies - a feature that showed up first in Delta). Its the Gran Turismo of shmups - allowing you to try out all of these combinations against each level. Its great to be able to select any level and try any combo of ship/force orb - I have spent many many hours doing this.

Final also features an odd little mode that lets you select ships and set them against each other in an automated battle. A grown up version of this has since been released for the PSP - a turn-based tactical game but Final remains the last shmup in the series.

R-Type Final got a mixed reception but I love the game. It will take me years to wring every last bit out of it and I still haven't completed the final level yet. R-Type isn't my favourite shmup series but it's certainly up there in the top 5 and I can recommend any of the titles I have in my "box set".