The R-Type series has always held an exalted place in gamers' hearts, particularly those who grew up with the shooting genre. The game's unique level designs, beautiful and menacing enemies and exacting difficulty has always made it one of the gold standards other titles in the genre strive to live up to. Now, with the release of the climactic installment, R-Type Final, Irem has set the bar even higher. While it's definitely an R-Type game at heart, there are several new twists that should keep players' reflexes sharp while extending the replay value immensely. Coming from the original developers at Irem, R-Type Final derives from the classic series and definitely feels like those older games with similar patterns, conventions and power-ups. Many of the old enemies return, especially some boss creatures, though they are joined by a variety of new foes including liquid metal bosses, which look amazing. This mixture of old and new serves to keep the series fresh and contemporary. As always with an R-Type title, the key of mastering the game lies in memorizing the enemies' attack patterns and anticipating their moves, getting out of the way when necessary. This isn't as easy as it sounds, since the game requires near flawless movements from the player each time. The game allows you to play one of five difficulty settings ranging from very easy to next to impossible. Playing on the lower levels allows you to familiarize yourself with the ships' commands and learn the enemies' attacks, but R-Type Final's difficulty curve gets steep in a hurry. Even so, this is not an easy game, especially at the harder difficulty settings, which are next to impossible to beat unless you know exactly what you're doing.
R-Type Final's basic gameplay mechanics and conventions will be instantly familiar to veterans of the series. As usual, you can adjust your ship's speed on the fly, without the need for power-ups. Your ship has two basic weapons, standard shots and Force Attacks which can be released by holding down their button and waiting for the power-gauge to fully charge. There can be more than one level of charge, depending on the weapon. However, shooting is limited while charging, so you have to be careful since you are vulnerable. As usual, you can upgrade your standard and Force attacks by collecting the traditional power-ups and icons. The level-designs fit nicely with R-Type traditions, with a variety of enemies coming at you until you face an ultimate boss, though some levels make you attack two or three sub-bosses before you reach the final battle. R-Type Final's gameplay is quite tight, and players will find the smooth, silky controls they've come to expect from the series evident. Despite the new enemies, epic levels, and upgraded graphics, Final feels like an R-Type title should. Old-school fans should feel right at home playing the new installment, and this familiarity will allow you to better appreciate the subtle changes and tweaks.
While mastering the enemy attack patterns is an important part of the game, R-Type Final's extensive ship customization plays a key part in the strategy of the game. The game gives you a small number of default ships early on, but you can earn more as you progress through the game. Once you've earned a ship, you have to place it in your hangar and can then select it before each game begins. There are more than 100 different ships available in the course of R-Type Final. This is quite a selection, though many are merely slight variations on one another. Each of these ships has different speeds and weapons and players can change their configurations at the hangar menu. Players can also choose from force weapons, and there are dozens of these ranging from the standard multi-level attacks, to powerful thunder bursts that shake the screen. There are also Force Weapons that automatically target enemies and others that will wipe out most of the enemies on the screen. Additionally, players can customize their ship colors and view them from different angles in the hangar as well. The many unlockable ships and their extensive customization adds a lot of replay value and depth to R-Type Final. It's fun to see how differently each level in the game plays with them, adding to its longevity and making the prospect of replaying the game much more appealing than you'd expect.
As smooth and satisfying as the game plays, R-Type Final's smooth presentation only enhances the overall experience with a cohesive futuristic feel evident throughout that makes for a coolly immersive shooting title that retains the feel of the old, while not neglecting to exploit today's technology. The menus are beautifully designed and easy to navigate, allowing you to select ships and view the various gallery items with ease. From a visual standpoint, the game lives up to it's lineage with impressive enemy designs. R-Type Final mixes the traditional 2D gameplay approach with impressively rendered 3D backdrops. This is cool enough, but the enemies are amazing, with the organic creatures and cool techno backdrops making for a pitch-perfect experience. This is all punctuated by the weapons themselves, which use light-sourcing, reflections, and waves of glowing auras to spectacular effect. These special effects are used effectively and R-Type Final's intense visuals explode off the screen, with dazzling colors and smooth framerates that keep the action intense throughout. The game frequently switches in perspective and require you to find a safe spot, which isn't always in the most obvious place. Many parts of the game are designed to trick you, with enemies and obstacles taking up a large portion of the screen. This unique approach works well to keep you guessing. There are many areas that tilt diagonally, adding to the challenge. From a visual standpoint, this is one of the best looking traditional shooters ever, with beautiful worlds including underwater levels, large cities, space junkyards, icy tundras and deep space solar flares rendered with a great attention to detail. The music is quite effective at punctuating the action, with an epic soundtrack that mixes orchestral flourishes with a techno edge that adds tension to each level.
there are many familiar elements, R-Type Final isn't an exercise in nostalgia.
The game's state-of-the-art visuals are quite impressive, with a high gloss
production and some truly breathtaking level design. The gameplay itself is
incredibly difficult and intense, requiring a great deal of concentration and
focus. R-Type Final is definitely a title geared for the series' hardcore fans,
and will challenge even these veterans at its higher levels. Adding an arsenal
of more than 100 customizable ships and configurations is a stroke of genius
that extends the game's replay value even more. Fans of the shooter genre
haven't had much to celebrate in recent years, as this type of game has become
rarer with each passing year. Unfortunately, this looks to be the last gasp of
another legendary series, which is a shame. However, this installment gives the
series a brilliant finale and the deep selection of ships means this finale that
will linger for quite some time. It represents a bittersweet moment for hardcore
and veteran gamers: R-Type Final may mark the end of the series, but it is
definitely going out with an impressive bang.