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R-Type Final (PlayStation 2) artwork

R-Type Final (PlayStation 2) review

"The Bydo Empire has been terrorizing the universe since about mid-eighties now and had no plans to stop. Well, that was until Irem decided to end the shooter series R-type with one last game. My incorrigible side didn’t want to believe such nonsense “One of the greatest series in shooter history just can’t end can it?” Much to my dismay, I’d look like I was only getting one more go around against the Bydo Empire and all their evil machinations. "

The Bydo Empire has been terrorizing the universe since about mid-eighties now and had no plans to stop. Well, that was until Irem decided to end the shooter series R-type with one last game. My incorrigible side didn’t want to believe such nonsense “One of the greatest series in shooter history just can’t end can it?” Much to my dismay, I’d look like I was only getting one more go around against the Bydo Empire and all their evil machinations.

R-type Final was heralded as the final game in the series, leaving many genre-loving fans biting their tongue with a tear in their eye. R-type surely doesn’t disappoint either; it follows the age-old tradition of making gamers cuss like sailors after getting blown into little pieces of space debris after a single bullet finds its way through their defense. I’ve found myself getting destroyed over and over for half an hour then losing my temper. Like every other gamer that loses their temper, I went and started to paint the house again and lay some more tiles in the kitchen.

My handyman work aside, R-type Final has some distinct idiosyncrasies that manage to differentiate itself from its predecessors. First, the most advertised and well-known of theses features, the one-hundred plus ships that we can unlock by meeting certain prerequisites. Some of the prerequisites require us to play with certain ships for hours on end while others merely require us to beat a certain stage. Every single ship is diverse in the respect that they all have different variations of three main types of weapons. First, we have the string beam that’ll crush all enemies that dare get in its way. The second is a stronger, but smaller, beam that can really blow its way through the monstrosities. The third, and final, version is a proximity weapon that’ll only affect a certain portion of the screen.

There are subsections to each weapon type as well. The power beam may be a flame thrower on one ship but then could be a yellow plasma beam on another. These beams can also be powered-up via holding the button down till our hair turns gray. A majority of the weapons can be charges to the first level in about one second flat. Charging it up further requires a waiting period of roughly five seconds. As shooter fans, we’re fully aware that every single second is valuable to success. R-type realizes this and makes us strategically apportion our time. Should we charge or just try and blast our way through the opposition? The decision is yours.

However, the second charge, called a “High” charge, will be able to do about three times as much damage as the initial charge. Getting more pedantic with it, an even stronger charge that requires another five seconds will lay waste to about anything it hits doing around five times the initial damage. Of course, not all ships are outfitted with the proper equipment to charge to such high levels. One ship in particular, called the Ragnarok II comes to mind as it has a gun appropriately entitled the ‘Giga Beam’ that allows us to charge it up seven times destroying everything in the game with one blast.

There are more weapons for you to utilize other than just the main one that comes standard with the ship. Gathering small orange dots called ‘Bits” will prove helpful almost anywhere in the game. There are two types of Bits; one allows us to fire an extra beam or two at whatever enemies may be unfortunate enough to get in our way. The second type of bit is used for primarily defense, allowing us to crush any opposition that happens to get too close for comfort. We cannot change the type of bits that the ship comes equipped with so we’ll have to take that into consideration when we make our selection. With the game on easy, we’re able to retain our bits if we die. On higher difficulties, we’ll find that we lose our bits and something even more important.

“What could possibly be more important than our attackers and defenders?” we ask intrigued. Surely the the most prominent of all our ship’s gadgets: the force. The force has a whole host of functions in the R-type world. First, its ability to absorb enemy fire is second to none. Once the force absorbs enough power it’ll be able to disperse it all in one large attack that clears the screen of all enemies. We’re only suppose to us this in an extreme emergency, as keeping it fully charged allows us to gain extra points. More points means we’re able to get extra lives quicker and everyone wants extra lives.

Given the levels in R-type final, we’ll probably need all the extra lives we can get. The first level starts off slowly, introducing us to a few swarms of enemies. A panoramic view of a destroyed cityscape in the background lets us know that something evil lurks nearby. Suddenly, a crab, bearing a tough, chitinous coat, breaks through a wall to greet us. After he falls we’ll meet the boss face to face: the beast that was responsible for the destruction of the city.

Level one may sound exciting but it’s really a bore. Depending on how many times you’ve cleared the game will influence what version of level two you play through. The first time, you’ll be above body of water fighting you way past long-legged bird monsters that have their feet planted firmly in the ground. The second time will send us through the ice cold water underneath fighting against swimming beasts who want to make a quick snack out of our ship. However, the boss is the exact same each time; he’s nothing more than an over-sized sack of purple appendages whose weak spot is one carrot-colored dot that randomly appears through orifices on both sides.

Level three comes off as nothing more than sloppy. This is where R-type had a chance to achieve greatness but dropped the ball. The stage is composed of nothing more than flying around an enormous soaring ship. Ending the stage on a sour note is that of the boss who happens to just be a machine that spits out attacks, truly disappointing.

Luckily for us, the last levels pick up the slack. Most notably is that of level five, which happens to be one of the most original stages in shooter history. The time-space continuum twists to and fro uncontrollably as it contorts everything on the screen to its liking. Lasers are turned into meandering pieces of hovering power as they come at us. Entire mother ships bend helplessly as they break onto the screen in an attempt to kill us. Only malleable shooter players will survive this level of brilliance and intensity. The cherry on top is really this: the way in which we execute this boss depends on what final stage we end up with. Managing to take out the bottom red flag lands us in a cyber space level followed by another level that I won’t talk about as not to ruin it. Destroying the top blue flag lands us in another secret level that consists of attacking our own ships.

R-type will please fans of the series along with new comers. The game isn’t terribly long but has a great amount of replay value due to the different difficulty levels and changing stages. The point should be obvious, though, the game is cheap and adding it to your PS2 collection probably wouldn’t hurt.

Final - 8

Sclem's avatar
Community review by Sclem (February 13, 2005)

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