R-Type (iPod/iPhone) review
Irem’s side-scrolling shoot-em-up R-Type has been released in so many forms, we’ve lost count. There was the Turbo Grafx 16 edition, the Sega Master System iteration, the arcade game (produced by Nintendo), the Game Boy version, its inclusion in the R-Types compilation for PlayStation, and revamped as part of R-Type Dimensions for Xbox Live Arcade. Its latest release now comes courtesy of Electronic Arts, this time for the iPhone and iPod Touch. And, to some, it’s a game that still holds some worth – as long as you find the right configuration that suits you.
If you’ve never played R-Type before, here’s the rundown: It is a side-scrolling shooter taking place in the deep reaches of space, where the alien Bydo Empire has taken control. Utilizing a number of power-ups and a handy detachable pod, it’s your job to hold them back, no matter what form they take. One minute you’re facing an evil xenomorph with a waving tail, the next you’re dealing with a flying battle cruiser with an organic heart. Times like these will make you thankful for ground-cradling shots and reflective lasers.
There is some leniency provided in this version of R-Type. Along with the original arcade mode (in which you get three lives and only so many continues), there’s also an unlimited lives option, where you can run through the game in one shot. And considering its heinous difficulty setting, you’ll be happy to have it included. Seriously, by the final stage, so many Bydo enemies will be raining down on you, not even a nuclear umbrella could save you.
Visually, R-Type looks the same as it did back in the early '90s. The graphics remain mostly untouched, although the bigger format you can play this in (like the iPad), the better. The frame rate remains pretty steady, even with everything that’s happening on-screen, and the explosions are well done for a space shooter from the “good ol’ days” of gaming. As for the music, it’s still true to the original soundtrack, although some of the cues come in too suddenly for their own good. There’s no intro to inform you that you’re about to face a boss. You just jump right into it.
As for controls, there are three options available. You’ve got a virtual joystick you can use to maneuver your ship, you can tilt your device to move it by force, or you touch the screen in order to move it around. The joypad is too clumsy for its own good, and tilting with a game like this just feels weird. Your best bet is touch, as you’ll have precise movement over your ship at all times – and you will need it.
R-Type doesn’t have much longevity going for it – no online leaderboards, no bonus levels, no R-Type II – but considering its two dollar price tag, you could buy worse for your Apple device. Bump up the score one point if you remember it well or have a nostalgic taste to obliterate aliens to kingdom come with a one-man army.