A few years ago, if you’d asked me if I liked shmups I would have probably said something to the effect of, “They’re ok. Ikaruga is pretty awesome.” It wasn’t until a little more recently that I rediscovered R-Type and I was bitten by the bug. Sadly, it was a game I’d mostly missed out on in my youth. Ikaruga and the R-Type series appeal to me so greatly because they’re much more than just shoot, dodge, repeat. Ikaruga has it’s polarity switching. R-Type
has the “Force” pod. Both are revolutionary gameplay mechanics. Both
have excellent and extremely difficult games built around them, almost
resembling puzzle or rhythm games at times. Both manage a great balance
of strategy, reflexes and memorization. They’ve made me appreciate what
their genre can be.
The best shmups are games you can spend countless hours mastering and
still have a blast each time. Great shmups seem to, and in the case of Ikaruga
do, have a definite Buddhist mentality. You will die, but you will be
back. Once you let go of your pride, your fear of death, and work
towards a goal greater than survival, you’ll be on the road to mastery.
For those not familiar, the R-Type series is a popular series of horizontal shmups that rivals the popularity of classics like the Gradiusa powerup known as a Force (which is nothing like the Force in Star Wars).
The Force is an indestructible satellite-like device, capable of moving
independant from the player’s ship, that can be used as both a shield
and a weapon. The series is also known, like Gradius, for its levels which contain more obstacles and a more complex level design than the average shmup.
R-Type and R-Type II are not necessarily the best games in the series. Most fans would agree the best is either R-Type III or R-Type Delta.
They are however, great games that were originally released in arcades.
Great arcade games usually see several console ports over the years and R-Type and R-Type II are no exception. I’ve put a lot of time into the PSX release, R-Types which features I and II. While R-Type Dimensions isn’t necessarily all that R-Types was and more, it does feature some great unique elements that make it worth buying.
R-Type Dimensions includes completely faithful recreations of both games. After a while, I noticed R-Type
seemed harder. It turns out the Japanese version of the original game
was harder than the US version. This is a remake of the harder Japanese
version. While I actually prefer to have the original harder version,
the game lacks any sort of difficulty setting which may disappoint some.
What makes R-Type Dimensions
stand out is the graphics have been completely redone in 3D in an art
style very faithful to the original 2D graphics. The game also can tilt
the 3D graphics a bit to one side to give the graphics more depth.
After that, there is an optional widescreen mode as well as some
full-screen graphics filters that seem to not do too much other than
add things like pixelation or change the color pallete. Still, better
to include the filters than not at all! One might complain about the
existance of black bars on the sides of the screen even in widescreen
mode. I imagine this was deliberate. Full usage of the screen would
make the game noticably easier. Purists may even want to turn off
widescreen mode altogether.
Speaking of purists, the 3D graphics
are completely toggable, even in-game. You can switch to the original
2D graphics and back with the tap of a button. The switch is quite
smooth. There’s even an “arcade” mode, for the 2D graphics mode which
places a virtual arcade cabinent around the game screen and makes the
camera bob as you move the ship. It’s supposed to give the feeling you
are actually in the arcade, moving your body slightly as you move the
joystick. It’s a cool effect but I doubt many people will use it.
Perhaps the most important improvement in R-Type Dimensions is the new coop support. The R-Type games, with the exception of R-Type Leo,
have never had coop. At most they’ve had 2 player support that forced
players to take turns. Now both games support simultaneous two player
action either online or with two controllers. I haven’t had a chance to
try the 2 player support but I haven’t seen any significant reports
of lag issues.
Both single player and coop include “Classic” and
“Infinite” modes. Classic is just what you’d expect, 3 lives but with
continues allowed. Continues can restart from the last checkpoint or
the beginning of the level which is a nice option. Infinite mode gives
the players infinite lives and doesn’t force them to restart from the
last checkpoint after dying, rather they just respawn. The goal of
infinite mode is to complete the game using the fewest lives possible.
minor complaints… One would be the lack of button configuration.
Although the default configuration works just fine, it’s different than
I’m used to with R-Types. Also, while the graphics are
beautifully redone it might have been nice to include redone music as
well. Another possible misstep is the price, 1200 XBLA points, which
some may see as overpriced. While I found it worth the money as an R-Type
fan, others may be hesitant. Rest assured the game has no glarring
oversites or bugs, that I noticed, and has a lot of fun to offer.
and achievements are included, of course, and you can even unlock two
free gamer pictures by beating the first boss of both games. R-Type Dimensions is a definite winner and I’d love to see some DLC (maybe the stages unique to Super R-Type?) or possibly an R-Type Dimensions 2 (maybe remakes of R-Type Leo and R-Type III?) If you’re a fan of shmups then this is a must have.