Super R-Type (SNES) review
"If there was any fun left to be had while playing Super R-Type, after considering the weak sounds, horrid slowdown, and the excessive tedium that the unrewarding difficulty curve creates, it is out the window at this point. Enduring all of those weaknesses in an attempt to appreciate the game's few strengths is made impossible, when you throw in the lack of start back points."
Don't let the name fool you
Allow me to present some plain facts. They may seem unrelated, but a profound connection is there: The 2-D shooter is my favorite game genre. R-Type is my favorite 2-D shooter series. Super R-Type is really a juiced up version of R-Type II with a few different levels. Super R-Type isn't remotely enjoyable.
It's true, all of it (well the last statement isn't really a fact, but it's close). If there ever was a weak link in a superb series, this is it. I can only shake my head at the inept naming of this game; there's nothing 'super' about it.
First, the good. Super R-Type has all the usual R-Type staples that have made the series a shooter institution. Highly detailed, hand drawn graphics, delineating organic alien designs and tight mechanical enemy and background compositions. You’ll pilot the R9 as usual, on a one-man mission of death and apparent futility, through seven diabolically crafted levels. Enemies will take up flight patterns that will confound you. They will be just where you fear they would be, and consistently so.
This is where your Force Device comes in. It is a spherical satellite that you can attach to the front or back of your ship as a shield, to see you through those seemingly impossible situations. You may also fire Force out into the fray, where it will fire as long as you’re firing, establishing some semblance of independence.
Here as well, are the Bit devices that you can earn and use to protect the top and bottom of the R9. Also present are the much-needed speed boosts, the nice to have missiles, and the various, obligatory weapon power-ups. In typical fashion, after picking up a blue power-up, say, a second blue power-up will amplify the destructive force of that same weapon, as well as the Force and Bit Devices.
I’ve said that the game—in true R-Type tradition—looks great. The sounds are uninspired though. The tracks are a combination of muddy rehashes of the original R-Type’s themes and some boring new ones. This disappointment in the audio department is just one of the reasons for R-Type’s fall from grace with this version.
It is also true that the game is plagued with heavy helpings of slowdown, to the point where firing in some parts slows things down by about 50%, as compared to when not firing. This might be attributed to the programmers’ inexperience with the platform, as Super R-Type was a first generation SNES title. But the music and the slowdown would be manageable if not for the problems to follow. These are reasons why this game is possibly the only R-Type title to really crash and burn.
Perhaps an explanation is in order first. Most action-oriented games have challenging bits that you can navigate with good anticipation, and good reflexes. Then there are other bits that you won’t be able to get through without prior experience.
Many shooters feature a decided dominance of the former bits, but R-Type games, for the most part, balance things. Like many platform games, a good amount of dying, and some trial and error is necessary to establish certain strategies for success. Super R-Type, being that it is not much different than R-Type II, leans so far to the memorization side of things, that it is not enjoyable to play.
With this in mind, we shall continue on to the coup de grace. R-Type II offered ‘start back points’, which is the modus operandi that Irem saw fit to use throughout the series. These points divide the level into manageable segments, so that when you die, you will respawn at one of these points rather than start the whole level over. This was essential in such difficult shooters, with this unprecedented focus on learning. Being that R-Type II went overboard with the memorization, they were made even more important. And being that Super R-Type is really just a home version of R-Type II, you would expect the same M.O. here as well, right?
Wrong. This brings us to the final nail in the coffin. Consider all that hard work you put into getting to the final boss. If you should touch a wall in all your excitement, it’s back to the beginning of the level for you. This is absolutely asinine, inexplicable, and unforgivable.
If there was any fun left to be had while playing Super R-Type, after considering the weak sounds, horrid slowdown, and the excessive tedium that the unrewarding difficulty curve creates, it is out the window at this point. Enduring all of those weaknesses in an attempt to appreciate the game's few strengths is made impossible, when you throw in the lack of start back points. Irem must have seen the slowdown coming; but this other error was akin to shooting themselves in the foot. There are far better shooters out there, and if you’re a fan of R-Type shooters in particular, every R-Type game out there is better than this one.
They can’t all be gems.
Staff review by Marc Golding (January 13, 2004)
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