R-Type Final

Old school shooting game bliss found at last.....


The Lowdown

Pros: Nostalgic gameplay, many ships to choose from, fluid graphics, tight controls

Cons: Nothing new, atmospheric dead noise for music, lots of frustration

Purchase at Play-Asia
If you can think back to your early gaming days you may remember the word shooter didn't mean holding a gun in first person view, but instead it meant blasting down alien invaders in some slick looking space ship. The space style shooter took a quiet break back in the era of PS1 and N64, but recently has been making a come back with Gradius 5, Ikaruga and now R-Type Final.

R-Type under went an evolution after its lackluster PSX R-Type Delta. The familiar elements of R-Type like pods, giant bosses and little robots that conveniently carry power ups (seriously what evil force would have those floating around.....?) are all present. One of the main differences is in the amount of ship customization. You start the game off with three ships. The first is the standard R-type ship, the Arrowhead, you've come to know and love. The ship is equipped with a long range beam attack as its charge weapon, bombs and the wave laser. The Andromalius has a short range lightning cannon, when charged up releases a blast of energy. The final ship you start with is the Shooting Star, when charged this ship can release a high energy beam that shoots for about 2 seconds. This ship also comes packing with mirror lasers as a power up. This is just scratching the surface because the game boasts a whopping 99 ships inside. Wow...that is a lot of different ways to play through the game. Top this up with the ability to choose which pod you want and even the color of the ship and you've got a whole separate mini game.

After you decide which ship you want to pilot to enter the realm of the Bydo Empire, you'll immediately notice the graphics and your jaw will drop. They're crisp 3D graphics that have an organic feel to them. The first level gives you an example of what to expect, and then by the time you see the second level you'll be completely blown away. Little details like water ripples when your ship is touching the water to the way the sun reflects off your ship are all noticeable. You can see for yourself in the screen shots.

 

The gameplay is similar to any old school shooter. The ship is on "rails" where all you can control is your placement on the screen, but R-Type Final does a good job with this by shifting camera angles and your direction in the world. If you've played Einhander you probably know what I'm talking about if you haven't you'll be in for a pleasant surprise. The action is nonstop once you start, enemies are constantly attacking you and you'll have to move around to avoid shots or be dead. Even though this is the future they don't seem to build ships very well since one stray bullet and its game over. Thankfully you have a two spare ships for every continue and the ability to switch ships during a continue. Even though you could beat the game with any ship, which is a number of different challenges in itself, you'll quickly realize that some ships have an advantage over other ones. For instance in the second stage there is a narrow passage way. The Andromalius has a charge attack that causes a sphere of energy that destroys all enemies around you, which is extremely effective in the narrow passageway. Other ships will have to focus on dodging bullets and attacking in a tight area, while the Andromalius is invincible. The lesson here is if there is an area too hard to pass, try switching your ship you may be surprised by the results.

As with any shooting game you will need tight responsive controls and R-type Final shines in this department. Navigation with the D-Pad is quick and responsive, you can even switch the speed of your ship up or down by pressing the L1 and L2 buttons. Square serves as attack and charge and circle allows you to shoot your pod out to attack enemies. Even though control is responsive slowdown does plague the game in some areas where there are either a lot of ships or a lot of bullets on screen. This is something that most shooting fans are used to, but it probably will frustrate younger gamers.

Frustration is probably the most annoying part of the game, even on the easiest level the game is still tough compared to many of the other games out there. While this may not be as hard as the original R-Type or even Super R-Type (R-Type III) for the Super Nintendo it suffers from a similar degree of frustration. Most people won't like the "one shot you're dead" game play. Granted your pod can take shots for you, but if a shot hits the main ship its over. Older gamers are used to this level of challenge while younger ones are used to some type some type of life bar or at least a second hit. The game's longevity is based pretty much on this frustration. You're either going to keep coming back to tackle this beast or you're going to throw the game out of the window in disgust.

The sound is a mixed bag, the audio pretty much contains ambient sounds, which goes with the organic feel of the game. However, a pulse pounding sound track would have made the game feel much more energetic. The sound effects are awesome, the explosions are loud the lasers sound like well... lasers.

Import Friendly?

Well its a shooter, you press buttons and fire stuff at aliens. Doesn't need much more explaining that that. However, the secrets and story (which is pretty basic anyway) are in Japanese or Korean depending on which version you get. Overall, if you're a fan of R-Type or have played any shooter before you should have no trouble jumping into this game.

US Bound?

Eidos' Fresh Games label has announced that they will pick up R-type Final as one of their games. A January 2004 release date is slated.

Overall

Fans of old school shooters should rejoice. This game is awesome, there's no doubt about that. However, it doesn't have as much shelf life as many other games unless you're up for the challenge of unlocking all the ships.