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!!!!
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.
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 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.
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