R-Type is one of the most popular side scrolling shoot 'em up games developed by Irem for the arcades in 1987. It became popular for its creative world-view and game system and was converted on various video game consoles and home computers!
STORY / GAMEPLAY The story takes place somewhere in the 22nd century! You fly a futuristic fighter craft called the R-9a "Arrowhead". The craft's name is based on its shape and because it is the ninth model in the 'R' series of fighter aircrafts. The main mission is to blast and destroy the evil Bydo Empire (and its fleets). Basically, you have to shoot everything that moves -with most aliens shooting back at you while others just get on your way to instantly kill you upon contact. The backgrounds look like tunnels (or caverns) that have a "ceiling" and a "floor" outcropping in places! These can also be dangerous since you can easily crash your R-9a. Some of the sprites are pretty large, like the giant spinning wheel monster that awaits near the end of the first level where you actually have to get your ship inside it and shoot it in the eye to close its account. And be sure that there are a lot of even bigger (and far more difficult) alien monsters to confront! The rapid presses on the fire button produce standard laser bursts, but should you require a bit more firepower you must hold the button for 3 seconds to charge and blast a bigger shot which will pierce and kill everything into its range. It is absolutely necessary to also collect an extra bonus shield (a sort of a second aircraft) that shoots and can be unleashed to kill everything on sight. Overall, R-Type is extremely difficult (frustratingly difficult actually) since you can easily lose lives and -the worst of all- if you are shot down, you re-spawn at the beginning of the level (very unfair in my opinion)! Actually the whole game is unfairly tough!
GRAPHICS / SOUND Although the developers tried to make a pretty faithful conversion of the original, the Atari ST suffers from inaccuracy. While most of the sprites and scenery have been reproduced with less detail but a fair degree of accuracy, the ship is a little on the large side and as such gameplay is unforgivably inaccurate in places. Such a flaw leads me to think that the team behind the ST conversion took their lead from a video probably back then rather than from the game itself! The fact that the action isn't particularly smooth can be forgiven. But when you try your favorite tactics you finally find that the game fails, dismally! The graphics on the ST offer 16 colors on screen and the sprites are decently done (some of them are really big, especially the end-level bosses)! Unfortunately most of the original background details are missing here but still the game is just ok! Soundwise, the things are better and the ST conversion offers some nicely composed tunes but no sound effects during gameplay (in contrast to the X68000 and Amiga conversions that keep things as they should be)!
In-game music sample:
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CPU: Motorola 68000 16/32bit at 8mhz. 16 bit data bus/32 bit internal/24-bit address bus. MEMORY: RAM 512KB (1MB for the 1040ST models) / ROM 192KB GRAPHICS: Digital-to-Analog Converter of 3-bits, eight levels per RGB channel, featuring a 9-bit RGB palette (512 colors), 320x200 (16 color), 640x200 (4 color), 640x400 (monochrome). With special programming techniques could display 512 colors on screen in static images. SOUND: Yamaha YM2149F PSG "Programmable Sound Generator" chip provided 3-voice sound synthesis, plus 1-voice white noise mono PSG. It also has two MIDI ports, and support mixed YM2149 sfx and MIDI music in gaming (there are several games supported this).