Saturday, June 20, 2009


~ R-TYPE ~
Hudson Soft / Irem / NEC

I've always appreciated this sidescrolling shooter's well-thought-out level designs; there's rhyme and reason to every aspect of every one of its stages. And brilliant board construction is hardly the only thing it's got going for it: its enemy designs are legendary, its graphics are remarkable, and its soundtrack is memorable and diverse. Despite all those positives, I've never particularly loved the game, as I find it falls short in many respects when compared with certain other strategy-emphasizing titles, and admittedly, I tend to prefer fast-paced Thunder Force-type shooters to the slow breed that it belongs to. Still, with my affinity for high-level challenges, I can't help but give R-T a play every now and then.

I do enjoy it for the most part. It hits its strategic stride with the stretch that comprises levels 4-7 before wrapping up with a somewhat-lame final mission. The first three stages are rather slow and easy, but they're veritable shooter-hall-of-fame displays considering the bosses and tunes they feature.

While that breakdown certainly indicates that the game provides a quality experience, I feel that it's too methodical and lacks spontaneity. Now, I like a good "thinking man's shooter" as much as the next guy, but some other mind-games-focused blast-'em-ups like Sinistron and Rayxanber II are superior to R-Type in my estimation, as they involve more-prominent "twitch" elements and force the player to make more spur-of-the-moment decisions, not to mention that they're even more aesthetically appealing than their forerunner.

Let's consider Rayxanber II. No matter how much you memorize of its fourth and sixth stages, they will always be challenging and you will always have to play well to get through them. Plus, Ray II plays fast--it's a Thunder Force-style shooter that calls for as much strategizing as an R-Type. Completing the first seven levels in R-T becomes perfunctory once you've figured out the correct paths to take and positions to occupy, and the plod-along pacing certainly doesn't make matters any more exciting.

Now take Sinistron. It doesn't even truly become rigid until its fifth stage begins. Just prior to that point, it demands that you play through an intense and ferociously difficult segment where you need to count on your reflexes more than anything else in order to navigate a gauntlet of asteroids and bullets. The only time R-Type's gameplay approaches this appealingly frantic style is during its final stage, when green baby-like things and dull spinning things kinda float about the screen; and even then, Sinistron's level of action murders R-T's.

I know that the infamous Stage 7 is the apple of every R-Type fan's eye, but even with all of its enemies and bullets and wall explosions, it's not particularly challenging once you discern the correct path to take. The boss is tough, though, and if you get killed in its trash-stocked lair, you'll most likely be unable to rebound, as you'll be placed at a ridiculous, unfairly situated checkpoint--which is surprising, as every other checkpoint along the way is completely reasonable. Any game can go ahead and take away your means of defending yourself and flood the screen with enemies and call itself "tough." That's not quality design--it's crap challenge and a quarter-nabbing tactic, and it's annoying to experience it in a home console game. It would have been nice if Irem had gone the Sinistron route by granting you the option of returning to the beginning of a stage rather than the checkpoint upon continuing.

In any event, I like the gathering of ships that takes place at the very end, and I do enjoy the ride there for the most part. Sinistron and Rayxanber II are stronger titles, though.

1 comment :

chipperkwah said...

My shooter skills are seriously lacking, cus i couldn't even beat this game when I owned the cabinet...

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