Although R-Type was not the first 2D shooter released in the arcades, it is commonly credited as the origins of some of the genre's most enduring clich?s. But beyond its importance to the video game industry, R-Type is also one of the best shooters you can buy. It has a lot of exciting levels, some amazing boss battles, cool weapons and a difficulty that will have you playing for years before you even come close to beating it. But thanks to this identical TurboGrafx-16 port arcade goers won't need to spend their hard earned quarters to attempt to beat a game that is virtually impossible.
Like most shooters of that era, R-Type doesn't really have much of a story to speak of. Instead it's up to you to pilot your spaceship around and fly through eight stages full of enemies, power-ups and boss battles. While this is no different from the shooters that came before it (such as Gradius, Scramble and Defender), R-Type manages to add a few elements that had not been seen before. Chief among them is the Force, a large round attachment that sticks to your ship and shields you from enemy fire and allows you to fire powerful weapons. The Force is R-Type's biggest enhancement; it's an add-on that you can keep attached to your ship or make it float independently. Being able to use the Force effectively is easily the biggest factor to whether or not you will get far in R-Type, and there's no doubt that it is the game's signature.
R-Type is made up of eight different levels, each with their own unique look and boss battle. While a lot of the game may seem pretty straight forward by today's standards, there are a few bosses that were revolutionary when this game was released back in 1987. One example is the third level, which makes you fight a giant spaceship that spans several screens. You start out by simply shooting its gun turrets and move on to the heart of the ship. This idea of making an entire level a boss battle is now a standard of the shooter genre, but at the time it was novel and very well done.
Unfortunately the rest of the levels aren't nearly as ground breaking, but that doesn't mean they aren't exciting. A lot of the levels you fight through feel like they are part of some warn down industrial complex, perhaps an alien civilization that is on the brink of extinction. There are a few levels that look like alien caves, one that is kind of like an alien garden and a few that are clearly set in the middle of space. These levels aren't bad, but they are often short and don't change much as you fly through them.
Perhaps it's a good thing that the levels are short, because if they were much longer nobody would want to play them. The biggest complaint you could have with a game like R-Type is its insane difficulty. While most 2D shooters are hard, R-Type is on a level all by itself. To simply say that this game is difficult would be a gross understatement, this is the type of product that makes you want to break your control, put your foot through the television and swear off of video games for the rest of your life. Some levels are so difficult that it's hard to believe that anybody could get through them. And these aren't just the final few levels; the game is difficult from the first level on. But like all difficult games, R-Type is doable if you can just memorize the levels and know the enemies you are dealing with.
R-Type doesn't have a huge selection of weapons, but that shouldn't stop you from having a great time with the various power-ups. The weapons are split up into three different colors, the red container is a circular laser, blue is a rebound laser, and yellow is a beam that fires at the ceiling and ground. There are also speed icons and missiles you can pick up, as well as little helper spheres that shoot extra ammo.
Of course, you can have all the heavy firepower you want and you still won't get past the first few levels on your first try. This is a game that will take you multiple plays before you even come close to seeing the final levels. It's not an exaggeration to say that this is one of the hardest games of all time, something that will take you months of constant plays before you beat it (if you ever do beat the ultra-difficult last boss). But it's worth it, and it's easy to see why the game is regarded as such a classic when you start playing it. Regardless of whether or not you end up beating the final boss, chances are good you'll have a good time getting there and that's all that matters.