Japanese arcade flyer
|Genre(s)||Side scrolling shoot-em-up|
|Display||Raster, standard resolution (Used: 384 x 256)
R-Type (アール・タイプ Āru Taipu?) is a side scrolling shoot-em-up arcade game produced by Irem in 1987. The player controls a space fighter named the R-9 to defend humanity against a mysterious powerful alien life-form known as the "Bydo".
The game is made up of several sequential levels, with a boss enemy at the end of each. The player controls a small spacecraft and must navigate terrain and fight enemies using the various ship weapons.
The player's spacecraft has, by default, a weak but rapid-firing main gun, which can take out waves of weak fighters; and a more powerful gun called a wave cannon, which requires the player to hold their fire to build up power for the cannon. When released, this fires a concentrated bolt of energy which can do more damage to larger enemies.
During the game, the player can obtain an auxiliary device called a Force. This resembles a glowing orange ball. The Force can be attached to the front or back of the player's spacecraft, or detached to fly freely. When attached, the Force provides one of three different powerful weapons, in addition to the main gun and the wave cannon. When detached, these weapons cannot be used, but the Force will instead resort to a secondary set of guns, which can be fired by the player even if the Force is at a distance from the spacecraft.
The Force has a secondary use as a shield; it is completely indestructible and can block most things fired at it, as well as damage or destroy enemies on contact. It can also be used as a ram, either by attaching it to the spacecraft and running into enemies, or by launching it into enemies.
R-Type is set in the middle of 22nd century, and the player flies a futuristic fighter craft called the R-9a "Arrowhead", named for its shape, and because it is the ninth model in the 'R' series of fighter craft (but it is the first of the series to actually be used in combat; the previous models were all prototypes). The mission is to 'blast off and strike the evil Bydo Empire'. The R- in the series title originally stood for "ray", as in a ray of light. It was a reference to the many different types of ray-like weapons in the first R-Type. This was later retconned in R-Type Final to refer specifically to the production code as well as a term of endearment for the player fighter craft, the "Round Canopy".
The original R-Type was well received by most gaming critics. However, it was also infamous for its relentless difficulty. It earned 7th place in IGN's Top 10 most difficult games to beat. The gameplay of R-Type is noticeably distinct among shoot 'em ups. Invariably the player will lose, not because of an inequality in firepower, but because of the design of the levels themselves. There is usually a 'correct' way to get through a level, but players must learn these by experience - i.e. by losing and restarting from earlier in the level. The game innovated with its weapon system compared to contemporary shooters, featuring a chargeable shot (beam-meter), and detachable 'force' pod; levels were designed to require different tactics and ideal weapons (air-air, diagonal, or air-ground laser).
The ZX Spectrum version of R-Type was awarded 9/10 in the January 1989 issue of Your Sinclair and was placed at number 6 in the Your Sinclair official top 100. The Games Machine praised the "incredible use of colour" and that it "blows away almost every other shoot'em up on the Spectrum". Crash congratulated Electric Dreams for "retaining the frenetic arcade feel and producing such a brilliant game". Sinclair User praised the weapons system and difficulty curve. C+VG concluded their review by saying "an excellent shoot'em up that's both challenging and addictive. An absolute must for Spectrum blasting fanatics". R-Type was placed number 1 in RGTV's YouTube video "Top 5 Shoot 'em ups on the ZX spectrum".
A fairly accurate port of R-Type was released for the PC Engine and TurboGrafx 16 consoles, although both versions suffered from a slightly lower resolution, reduced colour palette, sprite flickering and slow down - due to the slightly reduced resolution, the playfield also scrolls slightly in the vertical axis whenever the player's ship approaches the top or bottom of the screen. The Japanese release for the PC Engine was split across two game cards (HuCards) titled R-Type I (アール・タイプI Āru Taipu Wan?) and R-Type II (アール・タイプII Āru Taipu Tsū?)  and the later North American release for the TurboGrafx-16 contained the entire game on a single card. The PC Engine version of R-Type is notable for having a boss at the end of Stage 6, rather than a prolonged wave of enemies as in all other versions.
An R-Type port was produced in China as an unlicensed Famicom cartridge by "Magic Series Corp" under the name Magic Dragon. The level design and music are the same as the original game, but the graphics have been largely redone from scratch (for example, the R-9 more closely resembles a fighter jet, and the first enemies encountered have been changed to birds.)
The Xbox Live Arcade game R-Type Dimensions was released on February 4, 2009. It is a port of the original R-Type and the sequel R-Type II. It can be played either with the original 2D graphics or with new 3D graphics, and has added co-op gameplay functionality. Analogous version for PS3 has been released in May, 2014 under the name "R-Type Dimensions".
The PC Engine version of R-Type was one of the first games confirmed for Nintendo's Virtual Console. The Japanese release is split between two downloads while the North American and European versions include all eight levels, mirroring the original release formats for each region respectively. A Sega Master System version became available for Japan on May 19, 2009, for North America on November 2, 2009 and for Europe on September 25, 2009; however, due to licensing issues, this version was delisted on September 30, 2011 in North America and Europe and October 18, 2011 in Japan.
Sequels and legacy
Irem has developed a number of sequels and related games, including R-Type II and Armed Police Unit Gallop. Their XMultiply, although not part of the series, has similar themes and gameplay, and was released around the same time as R-Type II.
However, before any of these games was Katakis, a 1988 clone produced by Factor 5 for the Commodore 64 and the Amiga. It was considered by many C-64 players to be technically better to that computer's R-Type port, due to the C-64 version of R-Type being a rushed production. Katakis featured a rather unusual two-player mode, where the second player controlled the Force, creating a dual-role challenge - one of assault and one of protecting the vulnerable main ship. Due to legal challenges from Irem, the clone was soon remade and rereleased in 1989 as Denaris.
In 1991, Konami released Xexex, a game heavily influenced by R-Type and XMultiply. The game used similar weapons and concepts, such as the "Flint" being a combination of R-Type Force and X Multiply tentacle equipment. The Flintlock's ship design is very similar to that of R-Type 's R-9 fighter.
Pulstar for the Neo Geo bears a great similarity to R-Type, right down to the use of a Force-like device; a common theory is that ex-Irem employees left to start the game's developer, Aicom. A sequel of sorts, Blazing Star, was developed and released by the same staff (though they had become a company called Yumekobo before then).
At the end of the second level of Turrican II, the player can see the Force in the hangar where the player goes on a ship. Also, the whole third level is made of a ship similar to R-Type.
The third boss of the game Radiant Silvergun, was designed as an homage to the Arrowhead: it has an indestructible force, two bits, a wave cannon, and all three laser types (counter air, rebound, counter ground).
Dobkeratops, the R-Type level 1 boss can be seen on a television screen in Irem's Undercover Cops, which can be picked up for points.
2000 saw them selling "traditional Japanese sweets" containing "Force". When asked in the phony order form on which one was your favorite, the three choices were "R9 (Standard Force)", "RX (Tentacle Force)", and "R13 (Anchor Force)". All three were the ship designation and Force names in R-Type Delta.
In 2003, they put up a website that was selling various versions of the R-9 fighter much in the same manner as a car. Three choices were offered: the standard model, the sport model, and the convertible model.
Irem set up "Irem Burger" as their 2004 prank. R-Type played a supporting role here, with three "Bydo Burgers": The Living Body Burger, the Machine Burger, and the Harmony Burger. As well, some of the other "burgers" were filled with game discs, the one for R-Type Final proudly on display right below the top bun.
2005 saw Irem debuting a phony console, the "EXIDNA". One of the "games" available at launch: R-Type Final 2. As if that weren't enough, they also had a triple-wide "Bydo Monitor" as a peripheral, that of course R-Type Final 2 would support.
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- Top 10 Tuesday: Toughest Games to Beat
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- R-Type Dimensions out today on PS3
- Last Chance To Grab R-TYPE for Virtual Console
- Rezon Videogame by Taito/Allumer (1991) - The International Arcade Museum and the KLOV
- rezon at arcade-history: video games, pinballs, slot machines, etc
- R-Type Mobile official website (free demo)
- R-Type at the Killer List of Videogames
- R-Type Series at DMOZ
- R-Type at MobyGames
- R-Type at World of Spectrum