R-Type Review

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The Sega Master System is a vastly underrated console that helped launch some amazing franchises. R-Type was released in the arcades before being ported in 1988 to the console. Space shooters are a dime a dozen but R-Type seemed to be ahead of the pack. Developed by Irem. Corp and published by Sega, R-Type was received very well. In this R-Type review, I’m taking control of the R-9 and looking to destroy the Bydo Empire.

R-Type Plot:

Let’s turn to the manual and back cover for the plot of this R-Type review.

“The galaxy is in deep peril: foul creatures from the evil Bydo Empire have warped across space to invade and conquer our planet! There is only one hope for victory. The Earth Defense League has chosen you to pilot R-9, a nuclear-powered space fighter that can cut through invading aliens faster than a light saber through butter. (Interesting that they use the term light saber as an example from another franchise)

Fly R-9 through eight exciting levels of high-powered action. Use your plasma gun to rip through armies of nasty creatures and their deadly machines. And when the going gets really tough, pick up Droid Units to make your ship even harder hitting.

You’ll be up against creatures so mean and ugly they’ll make your hair stand on end. But Earth is depending on you. So strap yourself in the cockpit, put your fingers on the triggers, and blast ’em out of the skies!”

Okay, so that should shed some light on this R-Type review for the plot, but does the manual say anything different? Let’s inspect it.

“They came from a dimensional plane clear across the galaxy, wreaking havoc and chaos from star system to star system. With an evil that smothers all resistance with fear and terror, the horrid creatures of the Bydo Empire are knocking on Earth’s front door.

The Earth defense league has one ray of hope to stop the wave of terror: R-9, a supersecret spacecraft capable of striking the enemy in their own dimensional plane. When flown by a hot pilot like you, the R-9 can rip through bug-eyed monsters faster than a light saber through butter. (There it is again) But the horrendous creatures of the Bydo Empire are more than claws and pointy teety; they’ve got some pretty impressive hardware, too, so stay frosty! Earth’s future depends on you!”

All in all, both the manual and back cover spew the same plot. It’s up to you to defeat the Bydo Empire as they make their way across the galaxy. Pilot your fancy ship, the R-9, and send the aliens packing.

R-Type Gameplay:

My R-Type review got off to a slow start quite literally because your ship, the R-9 crawls at a snail’s pace before picking up power-ups. Speed is key in this space shooter and you’ll want to pick up the pace quickly if you have any hopes of surviving. Picking up any power-up that comes your way is crucial before facing the first boss. I hate when games do this but it was quite common in the 80s. If you don’t defeat a boss quick enough, he’ll close in on you. R-Type’s first boss does this and it took me a few times to defeat him due to his vicious nature of going after you.

I love games that go the extra mile when it comes to details. In the 80s with the NES and SMS, I always applaud games that created detailed backgrounds. The Mega Man franchise continued to improve the background on each release, and Submarine Attack on the SMS did a great job making the visuals stand out in the background. R-Type is another example of providing detailed backgrounds which makes it stand out against all the other space shooters. There are plenty of flashing lights and different textures as you make your way in and out of bases and space. The music is also top-notch in R-Type. It comes across as intense but not overpowering, a great balance that will help you get into the zone.

Compared to another SMS space shooter that I reviewed in Astro Warrior, R-Type will kick your ass. It’s a very tough game that you’ll have to learn before proceeding toward the end. Enemies come at all speeds from the top, bottom, left, and right as you scroll through the level. To help with this is the movable mounted cannon on your ship that you can detach and rearrange. It’s awesome to see this and quite innovative. Positioning your cannon to best suit your needs will help in defeating enemies during a tough spot.

I love boss fights and R-Type doesn’t disappoint. The second level boss was a long snake that flows through a beating heart. It was easier than the first boss, but I’m not complaining. What makes R-Type so good is the variety of gameplay. No level is the same and the third level was a giant ship battle in which you destroyed guns and armor off it as you zoomed by. From all the weapons, the position of your cannon, and unique bosses, R-Type keeps it fresh.

For my R-Type review, if I was having issues with a boss, I’d look up what to do in a guide. While reading a guide, I learned of a secret level in R-Type. It blew my mind that R-Type offered this and I’m sure gamers who found it back in 1988 were left with their jaws to the floor. If you exit through the roof of an area in the fourth level, you will be transported to a secret level with enemies not mentioned in the manual. It’s a treat and a very nice touch.

R-Type’s bosses are unique in every sense of the word. Each one is a different fight from stationary foes to ones like the fourth-level boss who takes pieces of his body and sends them at you while zooming around the screen. It was a tough fight but I appreciated all the different variables that R-Type offers with the gameplay. The final boss is a tough one but if you know the trick to beating him, it’s manageable. Again, it comes down to different strategies for each boss but the finale has quite the defensive setup. There’s an opening with its mouth that opens and closes from time to time. If you launch your detachable cannon into the mouth it will stay there bypassing all defenses of the monster. Your cannon will blast away at it while you avoid the monster’s offensive attacks. R-Type does a phenomenal job of making a 30-minute game stretch into a game that requires many runs to figure out the strategy of the bosses. You won’t just blast your way through enemies. R-Type gives you the power to defeat the bosses but it’s up to you to figure out how to use it.

I never played R-Type growing up and didn’t know too much about it before researching the Sega Master System and discovering that it’s one of the better games on the console. I purchased it during a heavy collecting period. I loved the cover art but the gameplay blew me away.

R-Type Review Score:

From start to finish, R-Type dazzles gamers with the soundtrack, innovative gameplay, and strategic boss fights. Each level is unique, each boss requires trial and error, and there’s even a secret level! For any Sega Master System owner, R-Type is a must-own. It sits atop the list of space shooters from the 80s.

R-Type scores a 9 out of 10.

What would you write in your R-Type review? What was your favorite boss fight? Did you discover the secret level? How did you use the detachable cannon? Let me know your thoughts and comments on R-Type, I’d love to read them.

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