|[ Writer ] = BAD
|[ 09/06/02 ] = It's Getting Cold In Here, So Put On All Your Clothes
Seeing how Irem has announced a new R-Type for the XBox hardware, I have decided that this site wouldn't be complete without some R-Type coverage of some sort. The series well deserves coverage; it's one of the oldest, and longest running series in the shooter realm. From R-Type and R-Type II to R-Type Leo and R-Type Delta, Irem has given us quite possibly some of the most frustrating but fun shooting action ever seen. Therefore, I have chosen to cover Super R-Type because of its general lack of coverage and recognition. Sure, R-Type III is just as fantastic as any fan will tell you it is, and R-Type Leo is an excellent shooter, but there are some cool things in Super R-Type also.
When Super R-Type came out, it was one of the most impressive looking shooters of its time. With tons of bright, vivid colors put into every enemy, shot and background, Super R-Type was graphical goodness back then. Still today though, I think Super R-Type looks nice, considering how much time has gone by since it was released. Picking up where they left off with R-Type II, Irem developed Super R-Type with a more detailed and colored environment thanks to the new hardware (back then). Super R-Type pushed more colors, explosions, bullets, firing orbs, moving enemies, and flying missiles than its predecessors. Sure, sometimes R-Type II got hectic a times, and R-Type might have even had a few moments like that, but in Super R-Type there are some pretty bad spots. Anyway, the enemies in Super R-Type look pretty cool; most notably the alien robots (below left screenshot) that were in R-Type and R-Type II and both of the ship types that are shown in the above center and below center screenshots. The silver-purple ships in the above center picture make some cool formations, and the red ships actually spiral across the screen (kick ass). The nice detail and textures put into every enemy and boss really make Super R-Type a nice game to watch.
The animation in Super R-Type is actually pretty good; the robot aliens look around as you fly around them, tanks and ships adjust their gun positions depending on where you fly, and your ship has some great dodging animation. Just as the graphical touches and effects of Super R-Type look nice, so do the backgrounds; the first stage in the game depicts several vividly-colored and shaded planets, while other stages offer nicely textured variations of the bio-machine mood of the R-Type games. Super R-Type's stages look just as creative as in R-Type and R-Type II, but Super R-Type's backgrounds showed just how much more Irem could do with new powerful hardware (and later proved this again by topping Super R-Type's backgrounds with those of R-Type III). Are the backgrounds as good as R-Type III's? Well, I'd call them about even because I don't know if I have seen enough of R-Type III's backgrounds (a difficult game) to tell, so I'll just stick to breaking even on that one; after all, they are on the same hardware, right? Chances are, those who liked the backgrounds in R-Type III would probably like the ones in Super R-Type because not much had changed between the two entries in the series.
Although some may try to kill Super R-Type by stabbing it with 'slowdown problems,' the fact is that in Super R-Type slowdown can actually help you out with some of the toughest parts of the game. I mean, come on; like I want to have the game running at warp fucking speed while sets of four enemies at time are quickly cluttering the screen. No, I don't think so. The slowdown at times seems to suit my gameplay style and doesn't hamper the play like some will say; just try it and see for yourself. Sure, shooters aren't supposed to be slow (speaking of Einhander), but in certain shooters it is needed, and since most of the shooters it is needed are horizontal ones, Super R-Type benefits from this. Now that I've got the poison out of your head that others may have put in, I'll say that the gameplay is of course classic R-Type; the helpful attacking and shield orbs, the laser and loop guns, the relentless enemies, some bullets here and there, and lots of technicality. Yes, R-Type is the most technical shooting game on the planet, and Super R-Type carries on the torch from R-Type II faithfully. Rather than dodging a sea of bullets like in my favorite shooter Mars Matrix, or encountering frequent boss fights and point bonuses like in Silpheed and Radiant Silvergun, Super R-Type focuses more on the technicality of every move that can be made. For instance, not only bullets, beams, and missiles act as threats, but you must also watch out for various walls, explosions, and enemy ships who fly directly into you. I give R-Type in general some serious points for being such a technical series, and I give Super R-Type credit for being in that family.
Super R-Type is a shooter that is not so easily beaten in one credit. Fuck, I'd be surprised to beat the game in 20 credits, but the fact is that every single movement in Super R-Type needs to be somehow accounted for, somehow recorded, systematically, in order to effectively pass the game's tricky stages. While some stages require a sort of memory for the enemy patterns, or at least a quick (very quick) trigger finger, other stages require you to quickly change the position of your attacking orb so that you can't be hit from an onslaught of rear attacks, or to fight off ships emerging from the water while also dodging missiles and quickly approaching walls. Still, Super R-Type doesn't give up on trying to shatter your dreams, throwing you into a boss battle that consists of you, a tank that covers the screen (shown top right screenshot), 5-way shots, missiles, and walls that almost seem to appear in front of you; this boss fight is one of the hardest spots in any shooter that I have ever played. There are more spots of technical madness, though, but there are so many I forgot about some of them. Super R-Type allows the player to have two shield Force orbs (one below, one above) in addition to the attacking Force weapon that fires out the alternate shot like lasers, etc. The Laser is still my favorite weapon in Super R-Type after having a liking for it in the other entries; bouncing lasers off the walls and into the bosses kicks ass. Having two shield Force units definitely helps you out with some of Super R-Type's really nasty parts, but it doesn't make the game as easy as you would think; there are some parts at the end of the game where the enemy will find a way to wreck into your ship.
In addition to the Force weapon, you can also get speed power-ups, but they should be considered speed "power-downs" because of how nearly impossible the game is to play when you get more than one of these bastards. No, I am not joking. The speed "power-up" system in Super R-Type is the second biggest problem (cheap enemies are the first). Most of the time, you'll either die because you will be fighting with the obnoxious speed of your ship after have collected too many S icons, or because you're trying to avoid them like the plague and smash into a fucking wall before you know even what happened. A completely enraging factor of the game. Annoying as hell. I would say that in a way this problem falls under control, but the ship controls fine until the S icons come into play, so I am not sure how to classify this burden. Smashing into walls or enemies because you barely tapped a direction with an S "power-up" seems a bit unfair. Sure, maybe this sort of flying can be mastered...but fuck, think about it a while and you'll realize that you shouldn't be forced to get (or die trying to evade) the wretched S "power-ups." I can see how some really good players can beat Gradius in one credit, or how some of the really great players at the shmups board can get through Giga Wing 2 or Mars Matrix like professionals, but how can there be anyone out there who strategically benefits in any way from the wretched S "power-ups" in Super R-Type? Is there anyone? Even if there is, I still believe that the odds shouldn't be stacked that high against the player amongst all the other hazards in Super R-Type. Yeah, I think Undead Line is hard, really hard, but I find myself swearing at Super R-Type a lot more; of course, I still love the game, though.
Just like the other games in the series, the biggest problem with Super R-Type is the ridiculously cheap enemies and their means of victory on you. I cannot fucking stand to dodge and weave through waves of bullets, missiles, and walls, only to get taken by a fucking spiraling enemy who hasn't fired a single shot. And the bosses, well, if they can't hit you, they'll just fucking run into you also. It wouldn't be so bad, but there are walls in R-Type, so dodging big enemies or bosses is something else (especially when you've been forced to collect an overabundance of S icons).
I don't like to address problems with such a cool game, but fuck, it's irritating as hell to get killed by walls and speed up "power-ups" more than the bullets shot at you. I guess maybe this is what comes with a technical shooter, so I can understand to a certain extent that I may suck at the game, but it still boils my blood to see my ship a flaming wreck after a stray enemy flies right into me (and then losing all of my guns and starting the level over again). Super R-Type can make even the most tolerable gamer absolutely livid after a few credits. I've probably enraged at least a few R-Type fans by now, but it must be noted that I am an R-Type fan as well, and this what I think is the only bad part of the game (well, that and the fact that I suck at the game). I don't hate the series by any stretch of the imagination, and I sure don't hate technical shooters. Maybe technical shooters like R-Type aren't absolute top on my list, but I always give R-Type the respect that it deserves (I'll be one of the first in line for the upcoming R-Type game).
There may be some problem when comparing this game to the two-player simultaneous R-Type Leo, or to R-Type III, but Super R-Type is a good game. Super R-Type is good for those who want to sit down and put in hours into a shooter just trying to pass the first few stages (using continues). Super R-Type is the kind of game that endurance players will get a lot out of; you can't just jump into the game and get through stages without at the very least breaking into a cold sweat. There's a lot to learn in mastering Super R-Type (or attempting to), just like there is in all of the other entries in the series. Probably the hardest shooter series, the R-Type designers definitely make you work for what you get. R-Type has just about every other horizontal shooter beat though, in terms of technicality; you'll be hard-pressed to find another shooter that takes as much memorization and patience as R-Type. Gradius fans may wonder what I think when comparing Gradius and R-Type; I compare them in the sense that they are both established, high-ranking horizontal shooters, but the gameplay in Gradius isn't as technical and focuses more on the classic shooting elements.
R-Type's developers have that Gradius formula but at a different level, turning it into essentially a more technical gameplay; does this mean it's better than Gradius? Well, I'm more of a Gradius fan, but R-Type is definitely not far behind. In Gradius, one thing that I like better is the fact that you'll die from bullets and missiles, and sometimes even walls, more than some jerk enemies running into your ship. Sure, it happens in Gradius, but it's not such a huge factor in the overall gameplay of the game as it is in R-Type. I think the only R-Type where I didn't die constantly from cheap shit was R-Type Leo; what a relief that was. As far as bosses and enemies, maybe R-Type leads in enemy design, but Gradius seems to take the boss category with its cool bosses (namely in Gradius III). Anyway, I don't like to compare the two games, but I do contrast the comparison of both titles occasionally. What do you think? I think Thunder Force has more in common with R-Type than Gradius does, and when comparing R-Type to Thunder Force I take R-Type in most aspects. Why? To me, R-Type just has better overall design in more areas than one. The bastard-ass enemies in R-Type enrage me, but so do some of the ones in Thunder Force. Definitely though, an interesting comparison is when looking at the aspects of two technical shooters like R-Type and Thunder Force. One thing is for sure - playing Thunder Force results in significantly less swearing than a session of any R-Type title.
Is Super R-Type the trainwreck that it's sometimes made out to be? Not at all. It's easy to see how Super R-Type could be overshadowed by all the great things Irem did with R-Type III, the classic factors of R-Type and R-Type II, and also by the following R-Type Leo has, but Super R-Type is just as good as all those games. In fact, I think I like Super R-Type better than R-Type II, simply because I am a fan of most of the game's bosses, enemies, and stages. Super R-Type just has to be looked at in a different perspective than R-Type III, R-Type Leo, or R-Type Delta; it has to be realized that this game was after R-Type II, a time (1991) when Super R-Type was a game that was one of the only first-generation shooters on the hardware it was on. Super R-Type was R-Type before the evolution of the Force weapons as in R-Type III or R-Type Leo, or the evolution in ships as in R-Type Delta; to realize this is key in respecting what Irem did with Super R-Type. I like Super R-Type a lot, and it'd be nice if others would at least give the game a chance to prove itself; it's not R-Type III or R-Type Leo, but it doesn't try to be. Super R-Type succeeds in carrying on the R-Type legacy of deathly hard shooting action, cool weapons, unrivaled technical gameplay in horizontal shooting, and of course, cool enemies. Go play it now, just be sure to explain to your family and/or friends why you'll be fired-up the rest of the day.