R-Type Final 2 offers tight, tense battles against organic and mechanical Bydo monstrosities. It continually puts the player in challenging situations no matter what difficulty level they’ve chosen. Plus, when you have to respawn back at a checkpoint instead of instantaneously, it makes every narrow escape and dangerously-close victory feel utterly satisfying. I just wish it looked a little nicer.
The Bydo continue to infest and evolve, filling planets with all kinds of sickening, twisted alien life as well as with combat-ready machines. Through this, R-Type Final 2 continually offers stages that feel varied and fresh, filled with all manner of different threats that work well with one another. Having to keep a large, wrecking-ball like enemy bouncing in the air while you weave between shielded organic artillery turrets? Weaving through heat-seeking pollen as you blast at the vulnerable base of a plant the size of an office building? The game has so much enemy variety, and it’s used well to keep giving you dicey situations to escape.
Bosses are even more satisfying in R-Type Final 2. Each of them, even on lower difficulties, can make for a challenging throwdown. Whether it’s a monstrous sea creature that spawns dozens of smaller versions of itself, a living core that keeps growing killer tentacles that fill the screen, or a familiar alien monster buried in ice, each pushes the player’s mobility and combat abilities to their limits.
Part of the challenge comes from having to respawn at checkpoints instead of on the spot. While other shmups may have you pop back in on the spot so long as you have lives left, a single screw-up in this title means doing an entire boss fight or section again. This deters players from brute-forcing their way through hard parts, while also creating some pure white-knuckle moments as you tuck yourself into small safe places to avoid damage. With a single failure often costing you dearly, it makes every moment feel intense and involved, and victory all the sweeter.
You have plenty of tools to use to help you get through R-Type Final 2, as you have a ton of ships that change the game in huge ways. Each of these ships has their own weapons, charged shots, and attacks, with many of these offering big changes on how you approach the game’s harder spots or which power-ups you collect. These all use the same buttons and power-ups to activate, making it easy to change your tactics on the fly while offering appreciable differences in harder areas.
In tight spaces with a lot of entrenched enemies, the ship with the large blast radius on its charge shot might be a good choice. However its regular weapons, which fling lightning upwards instead of straight at the foe, or send a narrow electric beam out, may not be as helpful as the ship that has a steady, cutting beam. That ship changes the spread of that beam as you move back and forth, making you consider movement in how you attack. There are so many fine details in the weapons and capabilities across a huge variety of ships, basically rearranging the play with each choice.
Most of these ships have a cost, though, but you can gain the currency you need relatively easy by playing through the game. There’re three currency types you get from beating levels, so even if you’re only good enough to finish a stage or two, you’ll still eventually be able to grab a bunch of different ships that make your life easier. I’m not super sure why the game needed three currencies, though.
However, finding where to buy those ships is a bit more difficult than it probably should be. Acquiring new ships took me a while, as I had a hard time finding it in the game’s museum section. I’m not sure why it was there when the game already has a Shop menu item, but that only lets you buy little trinkets to customize your ship and characters. It seemed needlessly complicated to find, which is a minor issue, but one that still bugged me a lot.
What bothered me more was the visual style. In a sense, it looks nice. The ships have a decent visual variety. The lighting effects on many of the weapons and blasts make the whole area around them light up, creating some impressive moments. Creatures have some good designs. That said, much of the game is dark and hard to make out. It can be difficult to tell what’s a background piece and what’s a hazard at times. I’ve shot enemies I barely knew were foes until they exploded when my attacks hit them.
Everything just looks like a muddled mess in most of the stages, making it hard to appreciate the clear work that went into them. This saps some of the enjoyment out of the game, and can add extra frustrations in long stages since you can die to things you can’t even really make out. You do get better at picking these details out over time, but when you’re new at a stage, you’ll likely die a few deaths because you could barely tell what something was.
Overall, though, R-Type Final 2 is a satisfying shmup with many challenging, carefully crafted stages. Having so many different ships gives it a ton of replay value, and also gives you many strategic options for how you tackle a given area. I wish it had a more striking, clear visual style so I could appreciate the designs and stages more (and die less to dopey things). Still, it’s solid in every other regard (and you should try the demo to see that for yourself), so I can’t stay mad at it for long.
R-Type Final 2 is available now for the Nintendo Switch, PS4, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, and PC.