When you’re taking time to consider the true greats of the shmup genre, a few names tend to crop up with alarming regularity. Darius. Gradius. Space Invaders, if you’re feeling particularly bookish. However, few shooters have had the same degree of impact that R-Type achieved when it hit arcades way back in 1987. The savvy combination of often grotesque visuals with the iconic Wave Cannon and Force Pod made for a shmup that played and felt totally different to any other – and over the years, a host of sequels have built on that reputation, right the way up to R-Type Final on the PS2, the supposed swansong for the entire franchise (not counting the turn-based R-Type Tactics / Command games on PSP, of course).
The recently-crowdfunded R-Type Final 2 proves that its PS2 predecessor wasn’t quite as final as Irem made out, and serves as the perfect companion piece to its 2003 forerunner. It’s a slow and often methodical affair, with rote memorisation as important as lightning-fast reflexes. The screen is rarely filled with bullets but you’re tasked with using the Force Pod as effectively as possible to shield yourself from incoming threats, while the Wave Cannon should be deployed carefully to ensure you’re never left vulnerable during its multi-stage charge-up time. To complicate matters, you’ll also need to use the speed setting feature (controlled by the left-hand shoulder triggers) to ensure you can navigate the often claustrophobic levels safely.
While the Unreal Engine visuals do look a little basic at times (this game’s take on R-Type’s signature ‘huge battleship’ level looks almost comically simplistic) and the music alternates from epic to slightly embarrassing (the ending theme continues the trend of amazing Japanese-made games having utterly terrible songs playing over their credits), R-Type Final 2 still manages to tick all of the boxes fans will want. It’s tough as old boots and requires many, many playthroughs before it clicks – and thankfully, there are so many ship variants to unlock that you’ll be coming back for weeks and weeks. These ships are ‘developed’ using materials gained from playing the game over and over, and while it’s disappointing that some are locked away as rewards for Kickstarter backers, the act of unlocking a new ship and then taking it out for a spin never loses its appeal.
Ultimately, R-Type Final 2 is exactly what you’d expect a sequel to R-Type Final to be like. It certainly doesn’t attempt to reinvent the wheel, and some may be a little underwhelmed by the fact that it lacks any massive gameplay changes from previous instalments in the franchise. Still, that’s rather missing the point; games like this aren’t as common as they once were and getting a shmup of such quality in 2021 is truly something to celebrate.
I downloaded the demo when I first caught wind that it was available. For weeks I’ve been playing the first stage over and over. When a game I’m playing frustrates me, I fire up this demo and cool off.
It’s not fantastic visuals but they suffice. The gameplay is where it’s at though especially for a R-Type fan. At the end of the day, it’s R-Type so I’m going to buy it.
My favourite is R-Type delta.
I’ve had the Switch version for just under a week (some of us who backed it on Kickstarter got it early) and I’m very impressed. It’s addictive unlocking the new ships.
Past R-Type stages are apparently going to be available as dlc (free, I think, to all backers).
How does it compare visually (PS4, Switch and PC)?
I was refreshing the store most of the day looking for this and as soon as it came up, splurged on the deluxe edition. I’ve been getting my butt kicked by RType since the pea green Game Boy port came out decades ago. Between this and Thunder Cross II, it’s been a great week for classic shooters.
Got my physical copy the other day, if you love shooters and Rtype you'll love this. Yes still doesn't beat the best from the 16bit era. But like the review says, getting fresh new shmups in today's market especially legacy franchises is few and far between. Never expected to see Rtype again. Now its about time Konami got with the program.
Looks good I'll pick this up at some point. Still hoping sega release an updated thunderforce 4 at some point my favourite shmup of all time.
R-Type is indeed a classic. Anyone remember Gaiares on the Sega Genesis? Now THAT was a great shooter for its time.
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