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R-Type (Sega Master System) artwork

R-Type (Sega Master System) review


"R-Type is a classic. The arcade game was a diabolical quarter muncher featuring detailed alien and mechanical enemy hybrids the likes of which nobody had seen before. The general consensus among shooter fans seems to be that R-Type's first level boss is the coolest looking boss in a shooter. But the question was, could Irem get this home? The answer is a resounding yes."



Blast off and strike the evil Bydo Empire? Why not, we're not doing anything else today anyway.

Incidentally, that's really the extent of the story behind this perennial shooter favorite. Aliens threaten the galaxy, and your R-9 spacecraft is humanity's last hope. It sounded much better in 1988 of course, but does it really matter? This is a 2-D shooter after all.

R-Type is a classic. The arcade game was a diabolical quarter muncher featuring detailed alien and mechanical enemy hybrids the likes of which nobody had seen before. The general consensus among shooter fans seems to be that R-Type's first level boss is the coolest looking boss in a shooter. But the question was, could Irem get this home?

The answer is a resounding yes. This port looks great. Some of the background detail was removed and the game suffers from a little flicker but there is surprisingly little slowdown, and only Lifeforce for the NES rivals it for graphics in an 8-bit shooter. The huge bosses are all represented here, right down to the difficult to animate parts (the second level boss' snake defender comes to mind). Everything is here.

R-Type also sounds like it should. The Irem classic's music was always eerily alien, if unspectacular, and nothing changes in this rendition. Sound effects are more than adequate; the enemy exploding still sounds as satisfying as ever.

After all and any R-Type discussion about graphics and sounds, the focus will inevitably shift to the game play. Irem must pride themselves on making the game design of R-Type games brilliant. The placement of enemies borders on sadistic, and it will take expert use of your now-famous Force Device to navigate this game--it's quite challenging.

The device can be affixed to the front or back of your ship, acting as both a shield, and as the source of your ship's true firepower. Three weapons are available; the blue reflective laser, the red ring laser, and the yellow crawling laser. Collecting the same colour will power up that weapon when the device is attached to the R-9, and simply power up the device when it's loose creating havoc on its own. Speed boosts are also there for the taking, and you'll need a few to feel really good about the way the R-9 handles. Fortunately finding a few won't be difficult.

Unlike its disappointing sequel, each of the eight levels are distinct and most often NOT frustrating. The control is perfect, and when you die you will suck it up and say, ''I know what I did wrong'' and try again. Don't expect to blow through this game on the first go. The R-Type trademark has always been, 'see this level FIRST, and work out how you can get through it safely' type game play. You must be a tactician as well as a pilot to succeed. Knowing when to allow the Force Device to wander, when to have it on your front, when to have it on your back, and where to position the R-9 plays as much a part in your survival as your reflexes.

The Master System version is not the near arcade perfect game that its Turbografx-16 follow up was, but it is more enjoyable. It plays a little easier in the arcade and Turbo's more frustrating parts, (like the second half of level seven) and it's got a Master System ONLY extra level!

The entrance to it is hidden in level four and it replaces level five should you choose to take that route. The level and its boss aren't all that awe-inspiring, but they're fun to discover and play and a very nice touch. Perhaps more importantly, that level's inclusion helps make something else about the game clear. Like Double Dragon 2 for the NES, this game is faithful to its arcade counterpart, but for what it loses in the presentation, it more than makes up for with its increased 'fun factor'.

The slightly easier and less frustrating play, the novelty of the extra level, and the fact that it's based on an excellent arcade game to begin with make the Master System R-Type a winner. It may well be the best 8-bit shooter out there. Period.

Rating: 10/10

Masters's avatar
Staff review by Marc Golding (January 12, 2004)

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