R-Type is a title that any old-schooler should be familiar with. The hard as nails arcade game was immensely popular back in the day. Sure, it wasn’t one of the first shmups ever made, but it did really nail the genre and inspired most other horizontal scrollers in some way.
One of the most recognisable elements from the R-Type series is your ‘force weapon’ (one of the names it is known as). This is basically a little orb that can attach and detach to the front of your spaceship. The force is invincible and can be used as a shield or battering ram against many shots or enemies. When detached, the orb can still cause damage and fire shots which is really handy to hit hard to reach enemies, or to fire into a densely populated area. You can quickly tell armature pilots apart from seasoned players by how they use their force (Luke).
The main problem with the many, many ports R-Type has received is actually the graphics. Sure graphics aren’t everything, but a lot of systems back in the day could not handle large sprites. Thankfully the graphics in the XBLA version are faithful to the arcade and are deliciously chunky. This makes everything easier to see, and just somehow feels right.
The developers weren’t just satisfied with delivering an authentic experience, however, and also included an alternate graphics set. During real-time play you can actually press the shoulder trigger to cycle between the traditional graphics and some reworked 3d visuals. Newbies to the series will probably opt with the 3d set I imagine, but it can be fascinating to flick constantly to see how faithful the 3d graphics are to the original art. If you’re especially keen, you can even display the cabinet surrounds, but unless you have a huge TV, it makes the gameplay tiny.
R-Type Dimensions includes the original R-Type game as well as the sequel, R-Type II (surprisingly enough). Between the two games, there is a lot of meat, and a huge amount of challenges. R-Type requires a lot of pattern memorisation and some very sharp reflexes. Because of the nature of these titles, easily frustrated gamers, or gamers with short attention spans, may want to skip this title.
All up Dimensions is a solid remake of an all-time classic, and is much more convenient than plugging in old systems to give the game a blasting. If you like R-Type, or shooters, then this game is a must. It’s arcade perfect and feels completely right – something that a lot of ports don’t manage. There are also a few new treats such as the 3d graphics and a co-op mode. If you are completely new to the series, the demo is definitely worth a crack.
Bring on ports of R-Type III, Delta and Final (minus the slow-down)! (Not to mention some ports of R-Types rival Gradius – especially V)