There is a button that is buried deep within the quivering bowels of some of us. This button should never be pushed, but when it is, we are compelled to shun society and shame-facedly collect every last car in Gran Turismo or enslave legions of Pokemon. R-Type Final is a fantastic game that repeatedly presses this button, taking the addictive qualities of the aforementioned titles and seamlessly joining them with a rock-solid shooter experience that will appeal to anyone who is a fan of the genre.
The R-Type series is unique among shooters, as it typically encourages you to run head-first into enemies and bullets. Once you collect your first power-up (red, blue, or yellow), your Force will appear and anchor itself to the front of your ship. The Force is an invincible, bullet-hungry construct that unleashes more and more firepower as you level it up with additional power-up collection. You have limited control over these Forces, and you can attach them to the front or back of your ship, or even let them roam free, as each Force has its own behavior when cut loose. If you use your Force to block and absorb bullets, it will gradually store enough power to unleash a screen-clearing barrage. In other words, the Force is the best thing you’ve got going for you in worlds inhabited by the evil Bydo.
Initially, you are faced with a choice between three space ships. Easy enough, right? You pick your ship, change up the colors if you see fit, choose your missiles and bits, and you’re off to show those Bydo (who presumably use babies and pieces of the Constitution as fuel) a thing or two, and wipe out some peace-loving indigenous life while you’re at it. More often than not, the Bydo will belly-laugh as your flaming wreckage plummets from the sky, and you’ll find yourself back at the ship selection screen. This is not a bad thing, as your journeys will inevitably unlock different ship types and refinements of your currently used ship, and the resulting upgrades in firepower are oftentimes awesome to behold.
You can keep track of the ships you’ve unlocked in the museum screen, where a simple flowchart shows your progress. This screen also hints at what you must do to unlock the next ship, which can range from logging more time with one of the ships to clearing a certain stage. You can also head into the gallery screen, where you periodically unlock spaceship artwork that you can then screen capture, print, put in your wallet, and then brandish whenever anyone asks about your significant others.
- Memorization is key! Like most shooters, you’ll have to identify patterns in the boss' attacks and use them to your advantage. Detach your Force and let it do the dirty work during the first boss, while you avoid the laser blasts and its other attacks. Most Forces, when released, will home in on the weak points of the enemies; as long as you’re making sure you hold down the rapid-fire button, they can do some serious damage while you’re relatively safe elsewhere.
- If you haven’t unlocked a ship in a while, take a trip to the R-Museum, which has a flowchart that can often give you a hint about the prerequisites for the next ship. The two most common prerequisites are more combat experience with your current ship and defeating a certain stage, though there are others.
- Know your Force intimately (wink, wink). Your selected Force type will have a profound change on your experience, as they harbor more abilities than can often be seen at first glance. One of my favorite Forces is the drill-type, which, when detached from your ship, will latch on to the enemy and drill all up in their grill, which is particularly effective.
- Swap ships! If you get stuck on the same part of a stage over and over again, try swapping ships entirely. Different weapon/Force/bit combinations often yield surprising results and some excel in certain circumstances.
- Play in an isolated location. You will be cursing and screaming a lot, mostly at the screen or your clumsy, clumsy hands. You don’t want people to see you like this.
R-Type Final is the definitive edition of one of the most beloved shooters of all time, and the gameplay, stage design, and imaginative ship models all help to make it an instant classic. It’s hard to find a better shoot-em-up bargain, and you owe it to yourself to cede all control to your collector half and give this one a whirl. Tell the Bydo I sent ya.
Omega 5 (XBLA), Gradius, Ikaruga