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The original R-Type is an arcade shoot ’em up, released in 1987. The sequel, R-Type II was also and arcade game and released in 1989. Both were developed by Irem and have been ported to numerous systems over the years. I think my first R-Type game was R-Type III or Super R-Type, both released for the Super Nintendo. But the only one I’ve played long enough to really form an opinion on is R-Type Final for the PlayStation 2. Good game. Developed and published by Tozai, R-Type Dimensions was released for Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network. It was re-released as R-Type Dimensions EX for PC, Switch, and PlayStaton 4 in November, 2018. For this review, Jeremy and I teamed up and played through the PC version. R-Type Dimensions is a package containing the first two R-Type games remastered with an optional new visual presentation and new features.
R-Type and R-Type II are sidescrolling shmups and there is a bit of story. The enemy is the Bydo and according to the scrolling text seen at the end of each game, they are scaring people in the first R-Type and in the second game, they are turning planets into death stars. You fly the R9 “Arrowhead” and fire plasma shots which can be charged up. When you destroy an Armos, it will reveal a Force you can acquire which is like a satellite that acts as a weapon and shield and will accompany your ship. You can dock it to the front or back of your ship and launch it forwards or backwards and it will fire along with you when it’s detached.
There are different pickups you can acquire in both games. You can increase the speed of your ship by acquiring the speed pickup, the shield pickup will put a shield near your ship to protect it, and there’s heat seeking missiles which do exactly what you think they do. In addition to these, are special weapon pickups. In the first and second game you can acquire reflective lasers which bounce off surfaces, double transverse neon wave is kind of like a spiral-like projectile, and ground roving fireballs travel along surfaces. In R-Type II you can acquire semi-homing beams, shotgun shells, and scatter bombs. These weapons can be upgraded by acquiring more of the pickups but if you die, your weapon is downgraded.
There are no difficulty modes and both games are very challenging. Arcade challenging. You can play through both solo or with a friend and there’s two types of modes to play through. Classic and Infinite. Classic will resemble the original arcade gameplay. Infinite provides you infinite lives and is the perfect mode for practicing and trying to memorize the stage layouts. Infinite mode not only makes your life easier by providing you infinite lives but you can also slow down time, increase your speed with a fast-forward button, and power up your ship with one button. There’s eight stages in R-Type and six in R-Type II. You can replay any already completed stages from the stage select menu. You can’t touch any part of the environments or you’ll die. If you get hit by a projectile or crash into an enemy, you die. There’s plenty of ways to die and memorization is key. You are scored in both modes based on your performance and your high scores are posted to the leaderboard if you die enough times to get a “Game Over” or beat the final stage. In Classic mode, extra lives are awarded to you for reaching certain scores. If you’re playing with a friend you can enable or disable ship collision, and if playing with a friend in Classic, you both share lives. However, a life is only lost when both ships are destroyed at the same time.
There’s a boss at the end of every stage. Some are extremely easy and others are quite difficult. However, none of the bosses are as difficult as what’s thrown at you in the stages. Enemies, projectiles, and even environmental hazards will be thrown at you from every direction. Some enemies will create walls that can be destroyed or simply avoided. Most fly around and fire projectiles at your ship others are on the ground. Some enemies and bosses have weak points you need to shoot and the weak points are in spots that aren’t easy to shoot. You need to learn to utilize your Force to take down enemies. And not only do you need to memorize the enemies, bosses, their attacks, and patterns, but also how to utilize the Force properly to protect yourself. Memorization is required. These are arcade games so they’re relentless. Some enemies and hazards feel downright cheap and if it wasn’t for the infinite mode, we would have probably never made it to the end of either game.
R-Type Dimensions does run at 1080p, however, during gameplay, the presentation doesn’t actually fill the screen. You can change how you view the action from the main menu and one neat feature is that you can switch between the original arcade look and the new graphics on the fly. Unfortunately, the new graphics look terrible. The ship and enemies look plastic and the only real cool thing about the new visuals is the lighting and some of the backgrounds. However, the new visuals come with music that does sound quite a bit better than the original. Unfortunately, you can’t listen to the new music with the original visuals. The music isn’t bad. There’s some good and catchy tunes here. Nothing really stands out about the sound effects and on the technical side, the game ran great and we experienced no issues.
R-Type Dimensions EX is a great way to experience these classic shmups but they definitely show their age. They’re also quite short. You can beat each game in about thirty minutes. We had fun but we do think there are better shmups out there. It’s also worth mentioning that these are somewhat slow-paced shmups. The real gimmick of these games is the Force that needs to be utilized properly to survive. That and you need to memorize everything or you’re going to die. A lot.
Ultimately, we would only recommend R-Type Dimensions EX to fans of the series or shmups. We do feel some more content would have been nice like unlockables, new stages, or just anything else. Trying to master every stage will probably keep you coming back for a while and the Infinite mode is a great way to practice. It also makes the games accessible to newcomers and to those who suck at shmups like us. If you think this looks interesting, check it out but just know these games are products of their time. And the new optional facelift the game offers is just terrible.