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Irem’s 1987 game R-Type is regarded as one of the preeminent shmups in gaming history for good reason: it is beautiful to look at and listen to, challenging to conquer, and both innovative and influential in meaningful ways. R-Type is this month’s game for Together Retro, and we invite everyone to join in the fight against the Bydo Empire.
The gameplay in R-Type is, at one level, very basic: fly through space and shoot enemies. One area where the game really shines, though, is in its innovate use of a charge shot, the use of an orbiting/attached weapon/shield known as a force, and a meticulously placed series of checkpoints that typically force the player to do a lot of memorization in order to even consider approaching a 1 credit run. R-Type is noted for its difficulty, primarily due to level design and boss patterns. Indeed, the original R-Type is still regarded as one of the tougher horizontal shmups of its own or any other era.
Most ports of the game were very faithful in reproducing the basic gameplay elements and overall difficulty that made the game distinct. Probably the best regarded and best known early port of the game was found on the Turbo-Grafx 16/PC Engine, though ports of variable quality were released on for the Amiga, Amstrad CPC, Atari ST, Commodore 64, Game Boy, MSX, PC-88, Sharp X68000, Sega Master System, and even the ZX Spectrum. The game has received many additional, updated ports in the past decade or so for mobile platforms such as iOS and Android, and Wii (via Virtual Console). There have also been several remixed/repackaged versions of the game in the form of releases such as R-Type DX for the Game Boy Color and R-Types for the PS1 (both games include both R-Type I and R-Type II, offering various optional tweaks to make them easier) and the more recent R-Type Dimensions for the Xbox 360 and PS3 (which offers “updated” and three dimensional graphics that can be toggled on the fly).
There are at least ten games in the R-Type series, not all of which are shmups. Direct early successors include R-Type II/Super R-Type, R-Type III and R-Type Leo. The series maintained its reputation as one of the tougher shmup series with later releases on PlayStation platforms with titles such as R-Type Delta and R-Type Final, each of which featured fresh approaches to the tried and true formula or the original. There are also two tactics games spun off the series on the PSP, and an early game that introduces a different perspective on the game’s story and design in Armed Police Unit Gallop. The series has also seen some interesting pirate versions and other strange spin-offs that are chronicled in the extensive write up on the series by our friends over at HG101.
Join us in the forums this month to compare the many ports, share high scores, and otherwise chat about this great shmup classic. Check out the discussion here.