Author: Bob Pape
Reviewer: Jim Douglas
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 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+.
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.
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