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GAME FACT: Hold button 1 down to charge the beam up laser.

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Reviews (N-Z)


987 (1-2 Players)



Overview and game play

R-Type is a horizontally scrolling shooter for 1-2 players who take turns to control a spaceship, (the “R-9”) in a mission to destroy an evil alien race known as the “Bydo Empire”. The game was enormously popular in the arcades at the time of its release due to its innovative and well balanced game play, excellent graphics and design and superb music and sound effects. R-Type’s success in the arcades resulted in home conversions for many computers and consoles such as the Atari ST, Amiga, PC Engine and Playstation. The popularity of the game resulted in several sequels being released and considerable profits for Irem, the manufacturer of R-Type.

A little jingle plays to signify a coin has been deposited and the game then starts with a short animation showing the players’ spaceship blasting off and flying over an alien landscape while introductory music plays. The spaceship can be controlled in 8 directions using the joystick (in the sit-down version) and pressing button 1 fires laser bolts straight ahead. Once the introductory music finishes, the sound effects then become audible and music continues to play in the background to compliment the on-screen action. Enemies fly towards the players’ spaceship immediately and they can either be shot or avoided by the player. If an enemy bullet hits the players’ spaceship or if it crashes into an enemy or the landscape, it will be destroyed and once all three of the spaceships the player starts with are destroyed, the game is over. At the bottom of the screen are the word “beam” and an empty box just above it. If button 1 is pressed and held for a few seconds, the beam box gradually fills up and a sound plays to indicate the weapon is being charged. When button 1 is released, a large laser bolt is released that can kill several enemies at once and/or do a large amount of damage to bigger enemies. This design innovation is one of the aspects of R-Type that set it apart from other shooters available at the time as it introduced a tactical element to the genre. Player’s must decide when and where to charge up the beam laser, which is not always easy because bullets cannot be fired while charging (leaving the spaceship vulnerable to attack) and some areas of the game require it to be used to progress further. Charging up of the beam weapon can be abandoned at any time by releasing button 1, in which case a smaller laser bolt will be fired. Player’s can therefore combine ordinary, medium and large laser bolts in their attacks depending up the circumstances.



In addition to the beam laser, players’ can also collect and use other weapons by shooting round robots that sometimes appear jumping around or walking throughout the game. When one of the robots is shot, a coloured token is left in the location where they were hit and if the player flies his/her spaceship over the token, it will empower the spacecraft with a new weapon or extra speed. One weapon causes a rotating orb to drift towards the players’ spacecraft and attach itself either to the front or back. Any regular sized enemy bullets that hit the orb will be absorbed by it and the player can therefore use the orb as a shield. An original feature introduced by the designers of R-Type is the ability to move the orb around by pressing button 2, which causes the orb to detach from the R-9 and mimic the spaceship’s movements, including firing small laser bolts at the same time. This ability is helpful as the orb can be sent ahead of the spaceship into confined areas to destroy certain zones and clear a path for the player to fly through. Pressing button 2 again causes the orb to rejoin the spaceship and it can be attached either at the front or back, which is also a useful feature for attacking certain enemies. When the players spaceship is destroyed, all weapons collected are lost but fortunately the game has been designed well and enough power up robots are available to shoot in each level.  

At the end of each level the player must confront a defeat the level boss that is typically a large enemy that requires numerous hits to destroy. As the player approaches a boss, the music changes to a more dramatic style to create a feeling of conflict. Each level boss has a weak point that must be discovered and exploited to defeat it.  Once the player has completed a level, a points bonus is awarded and the game continues.



The overall design of the levels in R-Type is outstanding for a mid eighties game. Detailed backgrounds with multiple layers of parallax scrolling create an illusion of depth and make the journey through the levels interesting and enjoyable. Some backgrounds fade into view, such as the tunnel on level 1, which is a superb effect that makes the game more fun to play. The enemies and level bosses have also been very well designed and are varied and interesting. The ring of death on level one must be navigated successfully and a weak point in it must be found. Once hit, it sets off a chain reaction that destroys the other remaining segments. Other notable enemies are the huge metal dragons at level 2 that release rocks they are carrying on their backs before diving into the tubes in the level 2 boss to collect more ammunition. The R-9 has been nicely designed and has pleasing animations that make it tilt when moving up or down. All other on-screen enemies have excellent animations and the backgrounds scroll smoothly at all times. 




R-Type features superb digitised sound effects that are among the best ever created for an arcade game. The beam laser has a wonderful charge up and release sound similar to a sound in the song, “Relax”, by Frankie Goes to Hollywood, an eighties band. Different sounds are used for all the different weapons and collisions as well as for the collection of power-ups. The synthesized music in R-Type is excellent, particularly in the first four levels of the game. Irem, the manufacturer of R-Type, appears to have used some of the instruments in the tunes of another game it made, The Legend of Hero Tonma and the overall effect enhances the game play very well.



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