R-Type is a side-scrolling shoot-em-up arcade created by Irem in 1987. The graphics design was inspired by H. R. Giger's artwork for the Alien movies. It was ported to several home computers, including ZX Spectrum and Commodore 64 in 1988, Atari ST, and Amiga in 1989.
Ever feel like horizontal-scrolling ship shooters are all the same? That's because, to some extent, they are. Some excellent ones are known for having the same gameplay, the same camera, even the same story. With that in mind, how will R-Type break a stereotype that wasn't even overused at the time? It's time to find out.
Made for arcade machines, the game was developed and published by Irem in 1987, a Japanese company whose most famous titles were Lode Runner and Moon Patrol.
The story is not a very complex literary work to read. As usual, the character is dressed as a hero and must destroy generic villains who want to wipe out humanity. For this, the hero drives the ship R-9, alias "Arrowhead," and his goal is to destroy an alien race called Bydo. Can a single ship save all humans? Possibly, but let's pretend we don't know the answer,
By default, the protagonist's spaceship is fast but weak and has two main weapons: a rapid and much heavier one. The game's ability to differentiate itself from most of its contemporaries is the ability to shoot backward, and the enemies also come from this sector. This makes this already challenging adventure a bigger bullet hell. Besides, a fascinating component called Force is also implemented. This, which comes in the form of a glowing orange ball, can be equipped to let the protagonist use 3 new powerful weapons. As a joke, it was also given a shield function. One may ask: what's the joke in this? Shields are not funny. In this case, they are because this addition came when the designer Akibo randomly imagined a dung beetle's behavior.
Developed by Factor 5, the makers of Turrican, the conversion to the Amiga was a huge success. Interestingly, Factor 5 was almost forced to this port. They had previously released another game, Katakis, that was clearly an R-Type clone. Activision Europe, who had the rights to port Irem's arcade to the Amiga, offered them a choice: retire Kakatis or develop R-Type's official port. They chose the second option.
Despite the rush, Factor 5 did a great job. The graphics, gameplay, and story are almost identical. There are some minor differences; for example, the parallax scrolling is missing; the big boss of the 3rd level has fewer parts than the arcade; the mechanical snake that you find in the second level is shorter. I'm sure Factor 5 could have done even better, but the game is still great.
On the other hand, the music has some different tones, and most importantly, it features a piece of intro music written by Chris Huelsbeck that became legendary. It is, alone, a good reason to try the game.
The company's excellent work made this conversion a runner-up in the Best "8-Bit" Coin-Op Conversion of the Year at the Golden Joystick Awards.
With a huge difficulty that does not spare the player and the single life that he must keep preserving all his weapons and power-ups, R-Type is not a game for everyone. If you're willing to invest the time and patience to get good at it, you're in for one of the best shoot-em-ups on the Amiga, if not the best. Are you up for the challenge?