Bonfire night bonanza from the dreamers...
Producer: Electric Dreams
Legal Costs: £9.99 cass
Author: Bob Pape
According to Mediagenic's lawyers, R-Type is a highly original arcade action shoot-'em-up. CRASH readers may have a different opinion of this Irem Corporation licence, but, as is so often the case, game format takes a backseat to actual playability. The scenario for all this is of the peaceful-galaxy-being-invaded-by-hideous-aliens variety. Naturally a lone spaceship will have a better chance against the aliens than the galaxy's massed fleets and as for the pilot... well, thank you for volunteering. Very brave of you.
The latest spacefighter technology (I thought this was a peaceful place - Ed) is represented by the awesome R-9. A single-seat ship initially armed with just a standard R-type laser. While rather feeble in rapid fire mode, by holding down fire for a few seconds you can discharge a massive blue fireball which destroys virtually all in its path.
Further weaponry can be added to your ship by collecting the glowing orbs deposited by the remains of a large number of blasted aliens. Add-on weapons include missiles, a more powerful laser and a small remote craft which flings out bullets at an amazing rate. These are lost when you die, so some pretty nifty flying is needed to get far into the eight, multiloaded levels. Ranged against you are swarms of alien fighters to chase you around the screen, ground-based missile launchers setting a stream of rockets on yourtail, and rapid- fire gun turrets. An almost equally formidable threat is provided by the scenery - collisions with which are lethal. Then, of course, there's the end-of-level guardian which will take all the firepower you can muster to defeat it.
The guardians, like the rest of the game, look very good indeed. Attacking ships in particular are well-drawn and animated with some really good, bright colours. The ferocity of the aliens' attacks might put some people off at the start, even Nick had problems finishing the first level, but don't give up! Once you've had a bit of practise you can get some great thrills squeezing through amazingly small spdces with a horde of blood-thirsty aliens on your tail. Congratulations to Electric Dreams for retaining the frenetic, arcade feel and producing such a brilliant game.
Joysticks: Cursor, Kempston, Sinclair
Graphics: colour is used very liberally, but even the resulting clashes don't spoil the detailed, fast-moving sprites
Sound: plenty of noisy effects during play
Options: definable keys
So it's arrived. The Spectrum conversion of one of the arcade's best looking coin-ops. Well it was bound to be disappointment wasn't it? But wait a minute, what's this? Colourful, well-drawn sprites in an absolute orgy of violent action, that's what! Okay, so there's quite a bit of colour clash, and sometimes it's hard to see what's happening, but all the same R-Type is amazingly playable and deviously addictive. The stunning range of weapons featured on the coin-op is available here too, preserving the coin-op's strategic aspects. After collecting a few extra weapons, your ship becomes an absolute fortress of weaponry with heat-seeking rockets, lasers and plasma bolts. And believe me you need all the armaments you can get to combat the constant barrage of varied, multi-coloured enemies. As for the massive, end-of-level monsters... All these features go to make R-Type a truly excellent and challenging shoot-'em-up.
This has got to be the arcade conversion of the decade (well at least the past three months). I know I've said that conversions have been good before, but R-Type is mega! The amount of colour, sound and excellent graphics that have been packed into it will just knock you over. Some of the sprites almost fill up the entire screen and they take quite a bit of pounding before they're defeated. You collect more weaponry as you destroy each wave of aliens and when you have the lot, you're almost unstoppable. Presentation is highly polished with excellent title and loading screens, plus a multitude of levels for you to blast through. This is an absolute must for every arcade shoot-'em-up freak, you gotta buy it!
The Hit Squad
If you haven't heard of R-Type then you must have been living in a dark cave at the top of some mountain range for the last few years. This is one the best shoot-'em-ups ever to appear on the Spectrum. Flying the R-9 fighter is an easy task, dodging the endless streams of aliens that are thrown at you is another affair. You've got to have nimble fingers to survive just the first couple of seconds.
To help you along there are weapons you can pick up in your fight for success, some real powerful ones too. Homing missiles, shield orbs, anti aircraft lasers and extra speed are just some of the goodies ready for collection. The amount of colour the programmers crammed into R-Type will impress any player. You're probably used to playing shoot-'em-ups with mono graphics or horrendous colour clash: not in this game.
What really lets R-Type down in the playability stakes is the multi-load system. I know I moan about multi-loads whenever they crop up, it's just they are so annoying. Luckily there's a continue play option with a set number of credits. R-Type is a must for all fans of the shoot-'em-up. Plenty of weapons, lots of nasty aliens and level after level of true arcade action. Get a copy and play.
Reviewer: Duncan MacDonald
Well well well, it's time for another 'Ho ho ho, they're never going to be able to convert that onto the Spectrum.' Have you ever seen the original Arcade machine? It's something of a classic - firmly in the Defender mould but with massive colourful sprites and more action than you could shake a boomerang at. In fact it's hardly surprising that plans for downloading it onto the Speccy were received with, erm, mirth to say the very least. I must admit I myself thought something along the lines of "R-Type? Oh yeah?" Well, Spec-chums - let me tell you something: I've never been more wrong. Well, I have actually, like the time I was spouting forth 'knowledgably' at a dinner party about Evelyn Waugh while labouring under the serious misconception that he was a woman - but that's another (and far more embarassing story).
Anyway, R-Type on the Speccy. Here we go. Oh, hang on a minute, some of you won't have seen the coin-op so I'll bring you in gently. R-Type, in a nutshell, is a right to left scrolling blast 'em up with 'power-up' icons to collect and more deadly aliens than the planet Zoggo. If you think along the lines of Zynaps you'll be sort of on the right path. Anyway, having cleared that up let's have a good old gander at the game in question. Basically it's one where you shoot everything that moves - some things shoot back at you while others just get in the way and result in your death on contact. The scrolling background is a sort of cavern with ceiling and floor outcroppings in places, and these, needless to say, can also be crashed into. If you manage to get past the myriad nasties/outcroppings and whatever else then you'll eventually be confronted by the end of level meganasty - and believe me, in this game we're talking meganasties with a capital 'M', but luckily you can pick up icons en route which will increase your firepower.
Righto, a fairly familiar scenario then, but the programming and execution behind this game mean it has to be played to be believed. Firstly colour: I actually thought they might have to do this conversion in monochrome, but oh no me hearties, there's colour all right - loads of it with little or no colour clash. Secondly the graphics and sprites themselves move beautifully and some of them are big (big big big), such as the giant spinning 'wheel monster' type thingy near the end of level one. You actually have to get your ship inside it and shoot it in the eye to close its account. And I'm sure there are a lot of even bigger nasties waiting on further levels (I couldn't get past level one before writing this) because there are in the coin-op, and this looks like being a pretty faithful conversion. Thirdly, the weapons system is brilliant. Quick clicks on the fire-button produce standard bursts of laser fire, but should you require a bit more 'oomph' then hold the button down for a sec. You can see the nose of the ship collecting surrounding atoms of some description - then when you release the button again, a large fireball zooms out. Also the 'power up' icons give you some very impressive weapons - indeed a three-way laser, er, well - that's the only one I can describe actually (given the space), but believe me, some of them are brillo. Fourthly there's the incredible addictiveness. The learning curve is a toughy, but also very rewarding once you get each bit licked - thanks to the 'play on' option. Each time you lose your three lives you get plonked on a screen which allows you to continue from where you left off (if you want to - and you probably will). However, this play-on option does only work five times during each game, so you eventually have to start from scratch again, but it means you get a lot of practice at getting past the really difficult bits towards the end of the levels. .
I could go on adding to the list of brilliant things but really it all boils down to this: R- Type is a fiendishly addictive and difficult shoot em up with great graphics, loads of colour and the kind of knobs which make it scream "Hey, I'm absolutely playable - come and have another go!". In fact I think I will. Oh dear, I can't move for some reason. Yaaarrrghhh! I enjoyed playing R-Type so much that I've become paralysed from the spleen down, it's not fair, it's not fair - I want another go!!!!
Who needs a torch for the dark when you're wearing pink and yellow day-glo flares? 'Ever Ready' RICH PELLEY shines some light down the...
The Hit Squad
Reviewer: Rich Pelley
This month's biggest barg of the lot just has to be R-Type. And blimey what a corker of a shoot-'em-up it is too. In fact I'd even go so far as to say (if I may) "The best blaster ever".
Life begins as a puny spaceship with a crap and rather titchy laser (a case of the longer you keep your finger on Fire the bigger it gets) scrolling left to right through loads of colourful caverns. A bit of blasting icon collecting later though and there'll be plenty of opportunities to add on (in this case, literally) the odd laser, gun, missile or two. As for the baddies? Tsk - hundreds of the things. Walking ones, flying ones, ones which just sit there and get in the way and lots of whopping great end-of-level nasties to boot. One of the later levels in the game consists entirely of this huge spaceship which you have to fly along and blow up a bit at a time.
Phew. And this really is brilliant stuff (multiload, of course, but we'll let it off just this once). Amazing graphics (with no clash), unbelievably addictive, extremely playable, eight varied levels, a classic of its kind, etc etc etc. And at a mere £2.99? Words fail me. Er, um... As I said. Words fail me.
THE COMPLETE YS GUIDE TO SHOOT-'EM-UPS PART 1
Where'd we all be without shoot-'em-ups, eh, Spec-chums? Well, we'd all have much smaller games collections, that's for sure! Join MATT BIELBY for an epic blast through nearly a decade of firepowered Spec-fun...
Blimey! The complete guide to shoot-'em-ups, eh? A bit of a mammoth task you might be thinking (and you'd be blooming right! It's taken me absolutely ages!). It's so blinking gigantic in fact that we've had to split it in two to save the whole ish from being packed to the gills with ancient shooty-shooty games and very little else!
So how's it all going to work? Well, this issue we spotlight those hundreds of games where you control a little spaceship, aeroplane or what have you, while next time round we'll be wibbling on for ages about those blasters where you command a man, creature or robot - things like Operation Wolf, Gryzor, Robocop (the list is endless, I'm sorry to say). Yes, I know it's a bit of an arbitrary way to divide the whole subject up in two, but it's the best I could come up.
Anyway, if you 're all ready, let's arm the missiles, oil the cannons, buckle our seatbelts and go kick some alien ass! (Or something.)
SO WHAT EXACTLY MAKES A SHOOT-'EM-UP A SHOOT-'EM-UP?
Well, at the risk of stating the obvious, it's a game where simple reaction times count for (almost) everything, and the actual shooting of various baddies constitutes the major part of the gameplay. It's just about the oldest form of computer game going (Space Invaders was pure shoot-'em-up, for instance), short of mad Victorian chappies crouching down inside big wooden cabinets and pretending to be chess machines. It's one of the most enduring forms too - hardly an issue of YS goes by when we don't review at least a couple of newies, and it's the rare arcade-style game (sports sims and puzzlers excepted) that doesn't include at least a small shoot-'em-up element in there somewhere as part of the gameplay.
But back to the case in hand. What we're talking about here are the pure shoot-'em-ups - games where the wiping out of waves of aliens or other baddies is everything (though let's be fair, the violence in most of these is very abstract and minimal). They easily divide into four major types, depending on how you view the action. And you can read all about them over the page.
THE FIRST EVER SHOOT-'EM-UP
Goodness knows - Space Invaders is the obvious answer, but most of the other early arcade games were shoot-'em-ups too - Defender, Asteroids, Galaxian and the rest. To find out what made it onto the Speccy first, well, we'll have to look back in the vaults and see what we come up with, shan't we?
Right, here we are with the very first issue of Your Spectrum (later to evolve into Your Sinclair), cover date January 1984. Flick to the review section and we have two Space invaders-type games, both from long-forgotten Anirog Software - Galactic Abductor and Missile Defence. The second issue (Feb 84. believe it or not) brings us such delights as Xark (Contrast Software), a Defender-type game and Alien Swoop (a Galaxians rip-off), while in issue three had Bug Byte's Cavern Fighter (a tunnel-based jobbie, like an early version of R-Type).
Hmm. Let's go back a bit further, shall we? All the early computer games mags were listings based (ie had lots of crap Basic games printed out line by line over oodles of pages, as if Program Pitstop had run rampant over the whole mag!) so we might find something in there. Believe it or not find something in there. Believe it or not, I have the very first issue of the very first computer games mag in the country sitting right here on my desk, cover-dated November 1981. There's only one Sinclair game in here (for a ZX80 or 81 - a Speccy forerunner - and taking up a whole 2K!). It's called City Bomb, and it's a sort of shoot-'em-up. Apparently you're in a plane at the top of the screen and have to bomb the city beneath you, flattening out a landing strip so you can put down safely. Thrilling stuff, eh? As for commercially available stuff, it's all lost a bit too far back in the mists of time to be sure. Still, shoot-'em-ups started emerging for the Speccy pretty soon after the machine came out, certainly by the end of '82. Throughout 83 people like Quicksilva and Bug Byte were churning out Space Invaders, Asteroids and Scramble clones advertised as 'being in 100% machine code and in colour' too, so perhaps it was one of those. Exciting stuff, eh?
In the great YS Guide To... tradition, for a one-off-only special occasion we've adapted our normal rating system to accommodate the shoot-'em-up theme. Here's how they work...
Are there oodles of inventive, nasty and extremely difficult-to-kill baddies all over the place (including the biggest, meanest muthas ever at the end of each level) or do you end up fighting a fleet of Trebor Mints?
Are there oodles and oodles of well-thought-out and spectacular weapons available to pick up and use, or do you have to make do with the same crap little peashooter throughout the game?
Unusually, the lower the score the better here. Basically, is this exactly the same as every other shoot-'em-up ever (in which case it'll get a high score for being chronically unoriginal) or does it have something innovative and special about it to set it apart from the crowd?
Does everything make a degree of sense in Speccyvision, or is it all a jumbled mass of pixels, with bullets, missiles and even little spaceships winking in and out of view willy-nilly?
Originally brought out for Christmas '88, R-Type is still probably the YS all-time shoot-'em-up champion. Certainly Duncan and David swear by it, and who am I to disagree? It's got everything really - bright, colourful and rather chunky graphics, pretty backdrops (but with the main play area left black for ease of vision) and playability coming out of its ears.
For those not familiar with it (where have you been?), it's a left-to-right horizontal scroller of a type we've seen millions of times before, but rarely (if ever) done this well. There's hardly any colour clash, some gorgeously designed graphics (something we have the coin-op to thank for) and it all moves beautifully - just check out the famous mechanical snakes on the first level for proof. Then there's the weapons system - some of the best add-ons in the business. Lots of little frog-like robots bounce along just waiting for a bit of encouragement to release oodles of extra weapons, including three-way lasers and a little remote droid that sorts of follows you around, mimicking your every move.
But best of all, the learning curve is pitched just right too, and the play-on option means you don't have to go straight back to the beginning again each time you die. A true classic and, what's more, the Speccy version is significantly harder to complete than the arcade machine ever was. It's an absolute corker!
WHAT A BARG!
Summertime, summertime, summer, summer, summertime! Hurrah - summer is here! And what better way to celebrate the advent of sunny, carefree days than by locking yourself in your bedroom and playing a load of Speccy games? With the seemingly unstoppable spread of budget software, we here at YS thought it would be quite a wheeze to sort out the brass from the dross. So take your seats and upset your neighbour's popcorn as JON PILLAR whisks you with shameless bias through a roundup of the best £3.99ers around.
SHOOT 'EM UP GAMES
Hit Squad/Issue 61
Reviewer: Jon Pillar
What can you say about this game that hasn't already been said? How about 'crimplene', or perhaps 'spatula'. Ahem. With its fast, full-colour and strikingly large graphics, R- Type is the game to show off your Speccy. It's blastin' to the max and squelchy beyond compare.
I was surrounded. A thousand screaming alien goons coming at me from every single angle, wailing and firing and shooting for all they were worth. They never stood a chance. Swift moves and a happy trigger finger despatched the slimebags in an ionised cloud.
Of course, reversing into the ceiling and blowing myself to bits wasn't really a technically strategic move, but, come on - I'm nearly on the second level.
You've already read stacks about R-Type, so I don't need to explain the story. It's enough to say that it's probably the space shoot-out in the arcades, but is it any good on the Spec?
Marvellous. It's all colour and violence and weapons and death and more violence.
You pilot a single-seater spacecraft (which actually looks very stupid) into the heart of an alien planet with a view to destroy the whole place. Along the way, you'll come up against virtually every conceivable form of nasty. Flyers, walkers, shooters and bumpers, weird and wonderful Gigeresque alien constructions and it's just so fast.
The most exciting thin about R-Type is the range of weapons available for collection at certain points in the game. By blowing away specific types of bad guys - usually walkers - a jewel will appear which, on collection will produce fantastic effects the next time you hit fire. The extras available include rocket bombs which home in the nearest alien, reflective lasers which bounce around all over the shop and lots more besides.
The first item to appear after a jewel pick-up is the Probe, a kind of revolving bumper affair which protects your ship, making you immune from head-on collision with aliens. The probe can also be fired off into a high-risk area of the screen to clear a path. Of course, when it's not attached, you're vulnerable.
The level of difficulty is set just right. It's a very tough game indeed, and you'll be lucky to get past the first level after a couple of days, but whereas lots of other shoot-outs rapidly become impossible, R-Type still feels as if it can cracked if you persevere. Even when you're horribly outnumbered, it is possible to move your way out of trouble.
After the initial waves of alien fighter formations, you gradually come into contact with nastier and nastier baddies. Inevitably, a at the end of each level, you come across a hug monster which needs a whole cartload of firepower and a lot of strategy to destroy. These are setpieces of the game and they're so absurdly extravagant they'd be silly if they weren't bloody difficult.
R-Type I is a multi-load. After every few minutes of scroll (assuming you could fly through unhampered) you have to load the next section. There are eight levels in all, some of which are combined in one load, others requiring a load a piece.
Personally, I was in danger of spoiling my shirt with bile at the thought of another scrolling space shoot-out, but R-Type proved me wrong, wrong wrong. It's fab. Colourful, action packed and a very faithful conversion. A+.
Author: Bob Pape
Reviewer: Jim Douglas
You know all those horizontally-scrolling space shoot-'em-ups where you collect extra weapons and duff up disgusting end-of-level guardians? You know people refer to them as "R-Type clones"? Do you know why that is? Because they're all rip-offs of this one, the original classic Irem coin-op conversion R-Type. While some of the later imitations are graphically better or maybe faster, few rival the sheer excitement of R-Type.
The R-Type of the title is your space fighter, an initially weedy fighting machine which grows more formidable as you bolt on extra gear. As you'll realise, your only task is to move left right up down and shoot all the ghoulies of the evil Bydo Empire; hoppers, fliers, worms, skeletoids and gun emplacements which attempt to zap you. The trick is to learn their attack patterns, use the appropriate weapons, and save up your super blaster (activated by holding down the fire button to build up power, then releasing a blast) at the correct places.
The graphics are great, and despite a lot of use of colour in the aliens, colour clash is kept to a minimum. Once you have added extra weapons, such as reflection lasers, homing missiles and shield orbs, the screen becomes very busy without the action slowing down. Adding these weapons - and The Force, a sort of forward probe which can be released to fight for itself in tricky situations - means that the tension in R-Type just keeps building up.
Miss this one, and you're a four-headed turkey from Neptune.
Reviewer: Chris Jenkins
The genuine article from Electric Dreams.
Ace first bought you news of this Irem coin-op way back in Issue One. Now some 15 months on, Electric Dreams have completed the home micro conversions.
Controlling an R-9 interstellar attack craft out to exact revenge against the evil Bydo Empire, you travel through eight increasingly difficult stages, dealing death against a horizontally-scrolling background (each section loads separately). In each stage there's a multitude of flying enemy ships and ground based gun emplacements to contend with, and of course an end-of-level guardian to dispose of before progressing to the next level.
The action commences with your craft equipped with a front-firing gun which can operate in two modes: tapping the fire button releases small laser bolts, while holding the fire button down causes a meter just below the main playing area to start creeping up. If you release the button as the meter reaches the top, a more powerful laser bolt is fired - well handy when you come up against tougher baddies who can take more hits before blowing up.
Extra weapons are available if you manage to shoot the small harmless creatures that hop across the screen and then pick up the tokens they leave behind.
One of the most useful add-on weapons is the probe. This ball-like object comes onto the screen from left to right and fires a shot whenever your ship does. Collect the probe, and it can be placed to the front or the back of your ship where it acts like a shield. Hitting the spacebar on the keyboard detaches the probe from your ship, sending to the front or back, depending on where it was first attached - this is a handy move when you're up against one of the end-of-level guardians because they each have a vulnerable spot that you need to shoot and it's usually in an awkward place. Hitting the spacebar again returns the probe to your ship.
Other weapons include three-way laser shots, which beef up the fire power of your probe, and homing missiles. Extra weapons collected from the earlier stages are lost whenever you lose a life.
Up to 25 ships are available to complete the game with - you have a total of five credits, and each credit buys five ships. Once the fifth ship in a series has been lost, you have ten seconds to press the fire button and continue the game from the last restart position with another five ships (doing that costs you one of your five credits), or you can elect to start back at the beginning again.
R-Type is a superb coin-op game and Electric Dreams have done a remarkable conversion job. The gameplay is terrific, the graphics are great and it's tough and addictive enough to keep you playing for a long time. R-Type doesn't win any prizes for originality, but for sheer speed, addictive gameplay and manic action it's a winner.
Reviewer: Andy Smith
Atari ST, £24.99, Imminent
C64/128, £9.99cs, £14.99dk, Imminent
Spectrum, £9.99cs, Out Now
Amstrad, £9.99cs, £14.99dk, Imminent
Predicted Interest Curve
1 min: 80/100
1 hour: 95/100
1 day: 95/100
1 week: 75/100
1 month: 50/100
1 year: 20/100
MACHINES: Spectrum, Amstrad, C64, Atari ST, Amiga
PRICE: £9.99 Spec/C64/Ams cass, £14.99 C64/Ams disk, £24.99 ST/Amiga
SUPPLIER: Electric Dreams
VERSION TESTED: Spec/ST
Irem's R-Type has been a major talking point of the arcade fraternity for the post year - and it's easy to see why. With its combination of superb playability and amazingly repellent alien graphics, it's one of the best arcade shoot 'em ups around.
Electric Dreams snapped up the conversion rights at the beginning of the year in a deal that was similar to an F-plan diet (they shed pounds and pounds in a very short space of time), and since then have been working on home computer versions. Now the fruits of their labours are about to be released...
For those unfamiliar with he game (where on Earth have you been?), R-Type is a horizontally scrolling blaster in the traditional mould. There are eight different levels, and at the end of each is a giant guardian who is defeated to progress to the next level.
The scenario is basically an excuse for a suicide pilot to take on a mighty enemy force single-handedly; this case the evil Bydo Empire, which is wreaking havoc across the universe. Flying a unique R-9 type assault craft and armed with lasers and whatever extra weapons that can be picked up during the mission, it's the player's task to penetrate all eight levels of Bydo's home planet and confront and destroy him on the final screen.
The R-9's laser cannons are capable of rapid bursts of low-charge laser fire. Keeping the fire button depressed "beams up" the charge, indicated by a bar at the bottom of the screen, and when the fire button is released a powerful laser bolt shoots across the screen, destroying all in its wake. The only problem with this is while the charge beams up, the R-9 can't fire, and is therefore defenceless.
The first level pits the R-9 against the Bydo mechanical defence system. Attack waves of Bydo craft pose little problem, but soon ground walkers appear which require repeated shots to kill. Battle on and the first of the highly useful POWs fly on. When these grey, rotund croft are destroyed they leave behind an icon which is picked up to add an extra feature to the R-9.
The first and most important is the pod, a spherical object which can be attached to the front of back of the craft, or left floating free to blast oncoming craft. If it's attached to the craft it provides protection from enemy bullets, and also destroys anything it touches - although for tougher craft it takes a few seconds for the destruction process to take place. If the R-9's fuselage is touched by another craft, bullet or the scenery, however, it's destroyed.
Other extra weapons lake the form of homing missiles (two launch automatically every few seconds and hunt down and destroy on enemy target), speed-ups, helix lasers, reflective lasers, vertically-firing power bolts and drones which float above and below the R-9 adding extra width to its firepower. A fully-equipped craft is an awesome fighting machine - but it takes time to build up that kind of arsenal, especially as all extra weapons are lost when the R-9 is hit!
Halfway through the first level is a spinning circular barrier of gun emplacements; blast this and there's a myriad of planes, walkers, missile-firing robots and laser towers to defeat before the guardian is encountered. This screen-high horror looks similar to the Alien in the eponymous films, and has a deadly indestructible tail which swishes around in a very threatening manner. After a few seconds a horrid green face bursts out of the alien's stomach and spits spinning disks at the ship; dodge these and shoot the face with a couple of full-beam shots to kill it.
The next level takes the R-9 through a diabolical alien garden populated by huge scorpions, plants that spit pulsating organisms and, at the end huge snake that slithers through the auricles and ventricles of a giant beating heart. At the top of the heart is a growth covered by a protective skin. Occasionally the skin peels back, exposing the growth so that it can be blasted - several accurate hits destroy the heart and the snake.
A massive mothership makes up the third level, and the player guides the R-9 around it shooting out the bristling gun emplacements and laser cannons. The giant ship's weak spot lies in its piston-like organ situated at the top. It slides in and out, and is vulnerable when fully extended - but it's well defended so some pretty nifty play is needed to get in the fatal shots.
Level four pits the R-9 against hordes of flying alien craft, some of which leave trails of dots which have to be cleared out of the way before the ship can continue safely. Just before the guardian appears, a whole screen of these dots has to be cleared - easy if you've got a pod; tricky if you haven't. The guardian is a big red ship that splits into three and moves slowly around the screen. Each section is destroyed by repeatedly shooting its blue docking port.
Level five is where the going starts to get very tough, with huge snakes crawling from dense vegetation. At the end is a rock-class ship which breaks up under repeated fire, deadly boulders flying all angles.
Subsequent levels take the ship through two alien factories, tortuous mazes densely populated by Bydo combat craft, gun emplacements and massive mechanised hulks of machinery. The final level is an all-out attack from the massed Bydo forces, and the evil one himself lies in wait on the ultimate screen - destroy him to complete the mission.
I did have my doubts about the Spectrum version of R-Type, but Electric Dreams have coped admirably, and the end result is fantastic! The graphics are obviously a pale imitation of the original, but nevertheless they still capture the spirit nicely, and what is lost visually is made up by the gameplay. To coin a well-used cliche, all the feature of the arcade machine have been included, and the end result is an excellent shoot 'em up that's both challenging and addictive. an absolute must for Spectrum blasting fanatics!
The ST version looks almost identical to the arcade version, although the effect is undermined by wobbly scrolling and jerky sprites. However, it's the gameplay that's important, and this is where it excels. The thrills and spills of the coin-op have been successfully reproduce, and consequently the game is fiendishly addictive - there are huge rips in the office carpet where I was dragged away to write this review. It goes without saying that if you enjoy a good shoot 'em up, you should shoot down the shop immediately and purchase a copy, or you can use our mega money=-off voucher and buy it for £11 - surely the bargain of the year?
When this first hit the streets two years ago, the world and his wife were, to put it mildly, gob-smacked, to see a brilliant Irem coin-op translated so well to the humble Speccy. Now it's getting a new lease of life as a budget release, and it's all the more brilliant for it.
It's a horizontally-scrolling shooter, with bags of power-up weapons, a drone which can be attached to both the front and rear of the ship, and loads of horrible aliens to blast, all in glorious technicolour! Yes, indeed, folks - tons of colour, with the minimum of attribute clash! Okay, it's got a rather naff multi-loader, but with a game that's as addictive and playable as this, such things can be overlooked. As far as this conversion's concerned, if you didn't go out and purchase it then, get it now!
Spectrum 48/128 Cassette: £9.99, Diskette: £14.99
Atari ST Diskette: £24.99
Earth is about to meet its maker as the Bydo Empire contemplates its destruction. The inhabitants have banded together to combat the threat and created the R-9 fighter craft - designed by robots, built by robots, tested by robots and flown into battle war by a suicidal nutcase guess who! You and your ship are promptly sent out to lecture the Bydoans in the ways of the laser bolt.
Other than an on-board variable-strength laser, weapon power-ups are made available for collecting - providing R-9 with homing missiles, shields and a force drone armed with a variety of weapons. Through progressive blasting, collecting and more blasting, R-9 builds up firepower until it's one mean fighting machine.
When you're fully armed with homing missiles, reflection lasers and a force drone that cuts a path through alien ranks, the feeling of power is tremendous.
STOMACH THE BOWELS
Unfortunately, like most games of this type, lose a life and you lose all weapons - and almost any chance of getting through to the next level. This is an unfair punishment which makes for a tough game - gameplay keeps you coming back for more though, and limited continue-plays provide a fighting chance.
Each level takes you further into the bowels of the Bydo Empire, with swarms of aliens and mega-opponents of all shapes and sizes to deal with. Amongst them, the infamous red mother-creature, the second-level alien-heart, complete with snakes, the third-level extra-terrestrial spaceship, even worse creatures are met as you progress through the eight levels.
A game idea not without its many clones, R- Type scores on its gameplay, action and addictiveness. An incredible blast!
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