Tuesday, April 01, 2014

R-Type Final: PlayStation 2 Tuesdays #9

In the mid to late 80's shoot 'em ups were all the rage, but since then their popularity has waned. Recently however, the arrival of download services from all three console manufacturer's has seen a revival of classic arcade style games that can be picked up and put down quickly and easily, and we've started to see shoot 'em ups come back into fashion. Even the holy grail of vertical shooters, Radiant Silvergun, can be experienced by the the masses for a low cost thanks to it's release on Xbox Live.

As the name suggests, R-Type Final was supposed to be the very last game in this series developed by Irem.  It was followed up by two more games on the PSP though: the Tactics games. If it was the swansong of the series, it would have gone out on a fairly high note, as R-Type Final delivers an atmospheric trip down memory lane and features dozens of different ships for the enthusiast to collect, as well as a branching route through the stages. Fans of the old games will see familiar bosses such as Dobkeratops (the one that looks like H.R. Giger's Alien) in new surroundings, and stage three is another huge enemy dreadnought as is traditional with the series.

Even on the absolute lowest difficulty setting of Baby, R-Type Final can be an absolute bitch. Don't expect to get very far into the game on your first try. Luckily however, each time you see the game over screen the game gives you slightly more credits than the last time, and your skill should also have improved a bit so you should get slightly further in. I'm not really a fan of the modern day bullet hell shooters myself, I prefer the old style games where the enemies attack in exactly the same way each time so you can learn and adapt through trial and error. This is the category that R-Type Final falls into.

Each of the many many different ships that are gradually unlocked as you play feature their own style of weaponry, so it's worth trying each one out as you get access to it to see which one suits you best.  The all still use the Force though, the little bolt on shield thingy that has been a hallmark of most of the games in the R-Type series since its inception. More than ever before, the difficulty and the level design will force you to detach your Force pod from the front of your ship and move it to the back, as enemies swarm at your from both sides.  On the lower difficulties at least, dying doesn't mean you lose all the power ups you've picked up along the way, you return in the state you left in. The game is still tough, even like this!

There are 100 ships to unlock in R-Type Final, making it a completionists dream!
R-Type Final is not my favourite game in the series by any means (that would be R-Type Delta for the PS1) but it does have it's charms and it holds infinitely more charm to me than whatever me-too FPS is currently in vogue at the moment. The game can be found for as little as £5 used and about £15 for like new copies.  Irem still apparently functions as a company, though their output has dwindled in recent years, which is quite sad.  Maybe they could licence out some of their properties to other developers like Capcom did recently with Strider.  I would love to see new versions of R-Type, Dragon Breed, Ninja Spirit and Steambot Chronicles!

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