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R-Type II (Game Boy) artwork

R-Type II (Game Boy) review

"The GameBoy iteration of R-Type II managed to take the already flawed and decidedly obnoxious arcade experience, and made it loathsome and near-unplayable."

R-Type! The horizontal shooter that features the nasty, invading alien biological-cum-mechanical Bydo, and Earth's saving grace: the famously brilliant interaction of R-9 space craft and the all-important, indestructible Force Device (it's an orb, shield thingie). Welcome to the sequel, in black-and-white and a very difficult game to track down. But for all the trouble I had trying to get my hands on this rare Ďgemí of a game, it certainly did not deliver. There are so many problems with this abomination that I hardly know where to start.

Firstly, do you remember R-Type? Iím certainly not one to let people forget--if you know me, you'll know that I like to remind folks at every opportunity, because I love the series. But I never found myself too enamoured of the arcade sequel. R-Type II required too much strict memorization necessary to advance for it to be much fun. To move from screen to screen, youíd need to be in precisely the right place at the right time, doing exactly the right thing. There was hardly room for positional or timing errors, where in the first game, often resourcefulness and improvisation could get one out of a sticky spot even if one managed to wander off the patterned pathway the game coerced you toward.

The GameBoy iteration of R-Type II managed to take the already flawed and decidedly obnoxious arcade experience, and made it loathsome and near-unplayable. First, the good bits. The game is a side-scrolling shooter, and it's portable. That is a great thing, and a rare-ish thing, so itís worth mentioning. The graphics are very detailed and crisp, surpassing even the detail of the original, and the two Nemesis games by Konami for the same system.

The downward spiral begins here, and itís a messy trip. Aleste shooters often feature protagonist weapons that can actually shoot down enemy fire. R-Type games do not. But this one does! Thatís right, youíll quite often find your own bullets somehow canceling out enemy projectiles, and Iím fairly sure this is not supposed to happen. Fine, we can adjust. Unfortunately, the phenomenon, while stupid, is not even consistent, and at times bullets you thought had been nullified, will find themselves eating their way through your canopy.

Worse yet, bullets donít only get eaten and belched up by your fire, sometimes they play amateur magician, and disappear completely for no reason at all! Youíll be dodging and thenÖ you wonít need to dodge. As expected, this horrible glitch is anything but consistent, so that more often than not, a lost bullet will reappear when you least expect it.

If the bullet bullshit wasnít bad enough, thereís another major problem that plagues the horrible handheld horizontal. The power of your various offensive outputs is entirely unbalanced. Your charged wave cannon often seems to do less damage than a few normal shots (this shouldn't be). The Force Device too, seems criminally underpowered. I am wont to put the Force on my front and batter enemy gunpods mounted on the ceilings and walls. For some reason, even the gunpods that take a single shot to take out with the cannon are sometimes able to completely resist the 'destructive power' of the Force!

To summarize: R-Type II looks good, but it isnít a good look for you. Irem took a stodgy, unforgiving, bland copy of a classic, ported it to the black-and-white GameBoy sans one level (we only get five rather than the arcade six), and completely cocked up the programming. Itís not entirely unplayable, but so much of it is random, and so much of the action requires so much more than random execution. The game wants you to be precise while it froths forth flicker and uncertainty. What happened? The original was good. You may want to try that instead, but whatever you do, donít mistake the two. Better still, look for R-Type III on the GameBoy Advance, assuming youíve got the hardware. If not, youíre still in much better hands with say, Nemesis, and that game is easy to find. R-Type II is hard to find, so letís leave it lost.

Masters's avatar
Staff review by Marc Golding (August 06, 2011)

There was a bio here once. It's gone now.

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overdrive posted August 06, 2011:

Man, I didn't even know this existed. With how "well" porting this game worked on the SNES as Super R-Type, you'd wonder why they'd even try putting it on the GB.
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Masters posted August 06, 2011:

I didn't know either, until I happened upon it at a secondhand store. I was so excited. And then I started playing. The only positive is that the glitches make it comparatively easy, so you can say, "I beat R-Type II without continuing"... which is like, impossible to say otherwise.
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JoeTheDestroyer posted August 06, 2011:

Sweet crap! This sounds about as terrible as the GBA port of Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance.
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pickhut posted August 06, 2011:

Yeesh, you weren't kidding about its rarity, I took a quick look on ebay and only found incomplete copies of it being sold from the UK. Nicely written review, by the way! Really sounds like it's not worth tracking down.
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qxz posted August 07, 2011:

Just outta curiosity...

Was this review based on the standalone game or was it based off the R-Type DX release?
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Masters posted August 07, 2011:

This leads me to believe you didn't read the review before commenting...

Black and white standalone.

Thanks, Pickhut.
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overdrive posted August 07, 2011:

This sounds about as terrible as the GBA port of Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance.

Those aren't words to be tossed around lightly. Although the GBA port of the PS2 Gauntlet game is even worse.

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