The Little Ass Kicking Ship That Could
Shooters are a dying breed amongst the flashy, current trend of 3-D polygon games. What was once the most popular format has become a lost genre. Shooters, from Space Invaders to Raiden, have always been about split second reaction times, a blistering fast thumb for that "fire" button, and an ounce of luck. It's kill or be killed.
One of the games that set the tone for today's (few) scrolling shooters was R-Type and it's sequel, R-Type II. These games had multiple power ups, different backgrounds for different levels, and big level bosses. It also implemented an unique force power up to protect your ship and charge your blaster. R-Types for the PSX is simply a collection of these two games.
In both games, the Bydo Empire, an evil parasitic race, is hell-bent on taking over Earth and any other planet fool enough to get in their way. Earth mounts a counterattack to destroy the Bydo, but not one ship returns from battle. Now, the fate of the entire galaxy rests with you-- your one ship (and three lives) against the forces of evil.
The opening movie of R-Types, at first, seems really lacking, but wait until after the initial title screen. The R-9 ship is displayed in rendered glory, battling against all the familiar foes of the Bydo Empire-it's a bit of upgraded nostalgia. It's impressive seeing those old graphics in a new light. If only the rest of the game had followed this cue, and the keyword: "improvement."
The coding of R-Type and R-Type II appears to be directly ported from the arcade, going so far as to leave the "Insert Quarter" intact. You can easily keep giving yourself quarters, thereby erasing any memory of having to whine to Mom for "just one more." This means infinite continues, making a difficult game just a little easier.
Graphically, R-Types is very dated. The first R-Type came out in 1987, and the second came out in 1989. It really shows its age, but an old-school game like this can still be appreciated on the basis of what it was in its time. The music actually shows how old this game is far more than the graphics. The synthesized bleeps and bloops could have been replaced with a full symphonic orchestration.
Control is finely tuned, but like most shooters, long playing times can get frustrating and repetitive. Also included is a museum option that allows you to see pictures and descriptions of your enemies and an imaginary timeline of the R-9's production. The museum doesn't add much to the game.
In Japan, a new R-Type sequel, R-Type Delta, was made for PlayStation. A distributor for the American release of Delta has not been found yet, but what they should have done was combine R-Types and Delta into one CD.
R-Types is everything now as it was then, which is both bad and good. The problem is that there is so much more potential for improvement then just slapping a pretty opening in the beginning. How about a new two player simultaneous mode? Or have a setting with a pumped up soundtrack and spruced up graphics? So much more could have been done.
What R-Types does offer is a chance for purists to play the original exactly how it they remember it. If you want to "go back to the days," R-Types is one way to get there. Acid flashbacks are another. For most people, R-Types still isn't worth more than a couple of quarters.