Game Review: R-Type Final 2

I’m not even going to question how you can have a sequel to an IP that was already declared to be the ‘final’ of something. Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter taught me not to bother to question such trivialities back in 1984.

Anyway, I was about 11-years-old and it was 1987. My older brother had taken me into the city centre of Birmingham here in England to do a bit of shopping and just have a bit of brother time together. He took me to Dayvilles the ice cream parlour on the corner of New Street and (if I recall correctly) Bennett’s Hill. It was an American import and people often raved about their thirty-two different flavours.

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In the corner of Dayvilles stood a Rampage arcade cabinet that people could play while they enjoyed their ice cream. But there was another side to Dayvilles, as a set of stairs that ran alongside the counter where the frozen flavoured milk was served from, led curious customers downstairs. It was there, in the basement of this ice cream parlour, where nirvana was found. Underneath where all of that sweet, sickly gelato was being severed as a full-blown arcade. It was here in 1987 where I first saw and played the original R-Type.

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Okay, so I wasn’t very good at it… I was only 11… And R-Type was one of the hardest arcade games around too. I couldn’t even clear the first level back then. Even so, I loved it. The graphics, the music, the end of level boss that killed me over and over and over again. The very memorable weapons, including the powerful wave cannon beam thing that you’d have to hold the fire button down to power up. As I said, I wasn’t very good at the game but my brother was. It was when watching my brother play R-Type in Dayvilles and when I got to see level three for the first time. That giant mothership that was the entire level is one of my all-time favourite gaming memories.

R-Type went on to become a pretty successful franchise and one of the most-loved side-scrolling shoot ’em ups ever made. With sequels and spin-offs aplenty over the years. Now, I’ve not kept up with all of the games in the series, I’ve not even played the first R-Type Final game from 2003, to be honest. Still, I have always had a soft spot for the franchise and every now and then, I’d find myself playing R-Type in one of its many forms. Be it the original arcade version, one of its many ports or even one of the sequels/spin-offs. I had a particular passion for the R-Type Dimensions remake from 2009. When I heard that a new R-Type game was coming from developer Granzella and publisher NIS America, I knew I had to play it. I just had a serious hankering for some high-quality arcade shooting action and you can’t get much better than a bit of R-Type. So here it is, my review of R-Type Final 2.

I must admit to being a tad confused when I first loaded up R-Type Final 2 as it was in Japanese, but a quick bit of playing around with the options and I was in English. Not sure why it didn’t auto regionalise when my console is set up for English? Anyway, the game starts with you having to create your pilot, give them a name, gender, etc. Then you can access your hanger where you start with three ships, the original R-9A from the first game, with an R-9D and R-9F as well. More ships are unlocked and added to your hanger as you progress through the game. Even though all of the ships have their own look and weapons, all of them can be customised. Change the colour, missiles, bit device and even add decals. I’ve played driving games with less customisation options than this arcade shooter. Customisation that extends to your pilot too. You can give the pilot a new helmet, flight suit and new poses. I’ve not even started the game yet and I’m lost in all the options and variables available to me. There are multiple difficulties to play on, from Practice (very easy) to R-Typer (very hard). So if you’re new to shooters like this, then you’ll easily find a suitable pace. Remembering how punishingly difficult R-Type games are, I settled for Normal setting… Which is still tricky enough. Even then, the game features an adaptable difficulty that changes as you play. So if you are blowing away enemies too easily, then the game will increase in difficulty in real-time.

The game starts out in a first-person mode with you as the pilot in your chosen ship in an interactive cut scene kind of thing before you launch. After which, it’s time to blast off to destroy the evil Bydo empire! The music kicks in and everything suddenly feels very, very R-Type. Sticking firmly to its roots, R-Type Final 2 is still a 2D shoot ’em up. Well, perhaps that should read a 2.5D shoot ’em up. Even though the game sticks to the basic left to right scrolling action (save a few instances) and you are pretty much playing on a 2D plane, the graphics are in 3D and as the levels scroll, you may find yourself going around corners, enemies move from the back to the foreground and the like. Yeah, this is 2D action, but it looks and feels 3D. Speaking of the graphics, R-Type Final 2 is quite a looker. Bold and very colourful and instantly recognisable as R-Type. Familiar enemies have been given an update and look great, even the levels themselves feel very much like classic R-Type ones, given a modern twist. There are some really nice lighting effects which, with a game set in space, is not something you’d expect. The lighting and shadows when you power up your beam are particularly nice. Enemies, scenery and the like cast shadows or give glints of light, as do your weapons and the copious explosions light up the action. Dust clouds appear, sparks fly, debris explodes everywhere and it all looks gorgeous too, especially when the screen gets a little hectic.

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Yup, R-Type Final 2 is a very pretty looking game indeed. Yet under all of that glitz, the game has lost none of its heart as this still feels and plays like a classic R-Type game should. If you have ever played an R-Type game before, then you’ll know exactly what you’re getting here. Control-wise, things are very familiar. Standard shooting, which comes with a rapid-fire button. There’s the powering up for the wave cannon beam, the ability to shoot your Force unit and move it from the front to the back of your ship. Everything from previous R-Type titles is here and it all felt instantly comfortable the second I picked up the controller, even if I’ve not played one of these games for a few years now.

In terms of the levels, I have to admit that even playing this on normal difficulty, I’ve struggled to get past stage four. Yet I’ve been enjoying every second of the many, many, many game overs I’ve had, just wanting to get back into the action again. I learn something new each time, where an enemy comes from, a boss’ attack pattern, the best weapon to use at the right time and more. Still, of the levels I have seen so far, I have genuinely loved them. They all feature throwbacks to R-Type history. From the very familiar looking end of the first level boss to the now traditional third level massive warship thing… And of course, a bit where you have to fly in the middle of a rotating thingy and destroy it from the inside. Classic.

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Then there are the weapons themselves. As I mentioned before, each of the playable ships in the game have their own weapons. The original R-9A and its instantly recognisable red, blue and yellow lasers are all here. But those same red, blue and yellow power-ups are different for each of the ships in the game. This adds a lot of depth as different ships can be used to suit your own play style and preferences. Then there’s the speed of the ship itself. In previous R-Type games (at least the ones I’ve played), you’d have to collect an upgrade to increase the speed of your ship. Sometimes a faster ship was very handy, sometimes it was a pain in the arse. What’s needed is a speed level that you can control yourself and yes, R-Type Final 2 has just that. With a tap of the left shoulder button on my Xbox pad, I could increase the speed or decrease it with the left trigger. This really proved handy for when I needed to get out of a tight spot, but didn’t want my ship to remain at that speed. The variable speed thing really is a fantastic addition and help to make you feel much more in control of your chosen ship. There’s also the addition of a special weapon. Use your Force unit to destroy enemies and that will power up (what is called) the Dose meter, once this is full (Dose Break), your attack and score increases… But you can also unleash that Dose Break as a powerful smart bomb type thing that looks effing cool.

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Bearing in mind that I’ve only been talking about the main game mode here so far and R-Type Final 2 has quite a lot of options outside of the standard arcade mode to play around with too. As you play, you earn resources (in-game currency) that can be used to buy a variety of things. More decals to customise your ship, helmets and flight suits for your pilot. Your pilot even earns experience the more you play too and can rank up and earn medals along the way.

R-TYPE FINAL 2 PILOT

Other game modes include a Stage & Score Attack where you can replay any of the levels that you’ve unlocked and try for a high score. Data & Gallery is where you will find all sorts of info on pretty much anything in the game. There’s the R Museum where you can look at and explore any of the ninety-nine ships that are in the game (once you unlock them of course). Get ship, weapon info and more. The Pilot & War Record is where you can see just how well your pilot is doing. Check their rank, medals, edit their suit and more. Then there’s the Bydo Lab and here you can find out any and everything about all of the enemies you’ll come across in the game. How many you’ve defeated, how strong they are, etc. There’s a serious amount of detail going on outside of the main game itself. There’s even a Gallery where you can unlock some really nice artwork and screenshots that show off just how pretty the game is (and it is). You can even set any of the unlocked images to the loading and title screens. Honestly, this game offers a lot in terms of unlockables and extras. I’ve still not scratched the surface in my game and there’s a lot more to unlock, other game modes and options that are greyed out until I (assume) finish the game.

R-TYPE FINAL 2 SHIP HANGER

I think I’ve covered pretty much everything the game offers, or at least that’s open to me right now anyway. So the big question is, is R-Type Final 2 worth playing? Yes, oh so much yes. If you’re an arcade shoot ’em up fan then this is a must buy. If you’re an R-Type fan, this is a no-brainer. R-Type Final 2 is a cracking and beautiful looking shooter with a lot to unlock and play around with. Yeah, it tough, but R-Type is meant to be hard, it is in the franchise’s DNA to be a difficult game. But it’s so damn playable and fun too. Full of customisation options and variables that it’ll keep you coming back for more.

My only slight niggle would be its price point. As I look on the Microsoft store, R-Type Final 2 is £34.99. That price is a little too high for my liking. Look, I really do love this game it is brilliant, no doubt about that. But is it almost £35 brilliant? It’s a tough call to make. You do get a lot here for your money… But it is still an arcade shooter and they are not exactly known for their longevity. Yes, I highly recommend this one but you’ll have to decide if it’s worth £35 of your hard-earned or not. Did I mention how gorgeous it is though?

R-TYPE FINAL 2 BEAM

R-Type Final 2 will be available to buy within hours of me pressing the publish button for this very article.

RollerCoaster Tycoon

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Little Bit of History:  Released in 1999 for PC – RollerCoaster Tycoon is a construction and management simulation based in numerous theme parks. Designed and programmed by Chris Sawyer.

Little Bit of Plot/Story: No real ‘plot’ to talk of here – you are just given a chunk of land, some cash and the research team to help you develop, design and build your very own theme park. Build rides, attractions, shops and coasters. You can even design and create genre specific scenery and rides, you want a horror, cowboy, space theme along with various others? Well you can  – make enough money and meet mission requirements so you can move onto the next park. You can even download fan made content and parks/rides, some based on world famous attractions from around the world. You can create your very own Disney World.

Little Bit of Character: There are no characters in the game – just random customers who will enter your park looking to be entertained and amused. Though you can rename any of the characters to whatever you like, so you can name your punters after your friends and family… then make then throw up after going on crazy coasters.

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Little Bit of Influence: RollerCoaster Tycoon was not the first game in this genre – but it was the best of the lot (until the sequel). It went on to become a successful franchise with four main games and several spin-offs.

Little Bit of Memories: It was my older brother, Rob who first introduced me to this game and I admit, at the time, I was not too impressed with it. I just found it slow, dull and uninteresting. But the more I played, the more RollerCoaster Tycoon grew on me – as I learned the building mechanic, as I became more familiar with the micro managing – I soon found myself becoming a big fan and before I knew it, I’d sunk hundreds of hours into this game creating some of the most insane theme parks and roller coasters ever created.

Little Bit of Playability: RollerCoaster Tycoon is just as playable now as it was eighteen years ago. I still enjoy losing myself in its charm and deep management gameplay. Though I much prefer RollerCoaster Tycoon 2 over the original, it still holds a special place in my gaming heart. If you like theme parks, roller coasters and games – you’ll not find a better place to quench your thirst than RollerCoaster Tycoon and its sequel… and to a slightly lesser extent the third game – but stop after that, you’ll thank me later.

RollerCoaster Tycoon Box

I love roller coasters and theme parks so much that I have decided to start my own theme park blog; 0 to 4gs. Its early days yet as I’m tinkering with the style, etc – but feel free to check it out – more content coming soon.

Wolfenstein 3D

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Little Bit of History: Released in 1992 originally for MS-DOS and later ported to various other machines including’ SNES, Jaguar and 3DO. Developed by id Software and published by Apogee Software. The game was the brainchild of; John Romero, Tom Hall, John Carmack and Adrian Carmack (no relation).

Little Bit of Plot/Story: Playing as William “B.J.” Blazkowicz, you have to escape Castle Wolfenstein, discover and end the Nazi plan to create an army of undead mutants and finally kill Adolf Hitler who is hiding in a bunker under the Reichstag.

Little Bit of Character: The main star is William “B.J.” Blazkowicz who you control through the game. Along the way you will encounter enemies like; Nazi soldiers, dogs, Hans & Gretel Grösse, Otto Giftmacher, General Fettgesicht and Doctor Schabbs.

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Little Bit of Influence: This game may not have been the first ever First Person Shooter (FPS), but it was the game that popularised the genre and went on to influence pretty much every single FPS that has been released since. From the immortal classic; DOOM to modern FPS of today like the Call of Duty franchise. Every FPS created today owes a debt to Wolfenstein 3D.

Little Bit of Memories: The first time I ever saw this game was on a friend’s PC and it blew me away. We had never seen a game that ran this smooth and was this violent/bloody. It was a revelation, even if we didn’t realise back then just how much of a revelation it would prove to be. The huge maps to run around in, the variety of weapons to use and of course the unparalleled amount of fun the game offered was unheard of back then.

Little Bit of Playability: To be honest, this one has not held up too well. Playing it today and it feels very sluggish and slow. The gameplay just has not held up as well as other FPS from around then (DOOM) and I honestly didn’t enjoy playing this again even if I loved it back in 92. But it is a classic and deserves to be remembered.

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There is more Wolfenstein in my Wolfenstein retrospective.

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Bomberman/Dyna Blaster

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Little Bit of History: Developed by Hudson Soft and released in 1990, this was a reboot of original 1983 game of the same name. Originally released for the PC Engine/TurboGrafx-16 as Bomberman before being ported to MS-DOS, Amiga and Atari ST re-titled as Dyna Blaster in 1991. A Commodore 64 version was planned and even advertised but it was never released.

Little Bit of Plot/Story: The single player mode had a simple story. You play as White Bomberman (yes that is the character’s name) who has to make his bomb his way through eight worlds until he reaches a castle. There he must make his way up to the top floor where Black Bomberman is holding the kidnapped daughter of the inventor who created the Bombermen.

Little Bit of Character: Not much to cover here. There is White and Black Bomberman a handful of enemies and that’s about it.

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Little Bit of Influence: This was not the first game in the franchise, as previously mentioned this was a reboot to the 1983 original. But this version was the game that kicked off the success the franchise would find with multiple sequels and spin off games that are still being released today. The franchise also spawned an Anime called; Bomberman Jetters, a toy line and even a short series of Club Nintendo comics.

Little Bit of Memories: I recall playing this game on the Amiga for its excellent multiplayer mode where four friends could bomb each other. The single player was pretty redundant to be honest, but the multiplayer mode was where all the fun was at. Then my friend Paul got the SNES port and a Multitap so four people could play at once and this was where the real fun began. A simple but fiercely competitive game that could break up friendships and families faster than a game of Monopoly. Fighting to get those bomb & explosion power ups, trying to trap your opponent in the corner, etc. Fast and frantic gameplay that though simple, kept us coming back for more.

Little Bit of Playability: This is still a great title to play now and there are literally dozens of versions to try out. I would definitely recommend the SNES port; Super Bomberman and its sequels. There are even more recent updates like; Bomberman Live, Bomberman Blast, Bomberman Ultra or Bomberman Live: Battlefest. There have been numerous Bomberman games released on pretty much every popular format, even iOS and Android as recent as this year.

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Friday The 13th – C64

Today is Friday the 13th so…

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Little Bit of History: From Domark and relased in 1985 for the Commodore 64. Later ported to the Amstrad CPC and ZX Spectrum. The game was inspired by the film series of the same name and became infamous for its jump scares. Some copies of the game even came with fake blood capsules filled with red sugar water that you could use to make it look like blood was pouring from your mouth. Also at the end of the tape was a collection of horror SFX.

Little Bit of Plot/Story: You play as one of the teenagers and are tasked with hunting down and killing Jason Voorhees while trying to protect your friends by taking them to a player selected sanctuary somewhere on the map. Jason could disguise himself as anyone of your friends and this would make him hard to find.

Little Bit of Character: You could play as 1 of 5 teenagers including; Gerry King, Bryan Bone, Amanda Baxter, Wendy Watson and Stuart Palmer. Then of course there was also Jason Voorhees.

Little Bit of Influence: Later Friday The 13th games were made like the more known one for the NES another for mobile games in 2000 and there is an all new Friday The 13th game coming to PC, Xbox One and PS4 to be relased in autumn of 2016.

Little Bit of Memories: I had this one on the same compilation tape as The Evil Dead. I always remember this one being pretty good fun even if it did have a strange soundtrack like Teddy Bears Picnic would play if you went to the woods or Old McDonald when you went to the farm. The map at the time was quite varied and fun to explore all while trying to find Jason. Oh and then there were those jump scares I mentioned as if/when Jason would kill one of your friends, you would be greeted with a image of a teenager with a machete stuck in their head and a loud digitized scream sound.

Little Bit of Playability: I was quite surprised to find this was still pretty playable today. I really enjoyed exploring the map and trying to track down Jason before he killed everyone. Though the controls did feel a little stiff, but after a while I got used to them. Still a pretty fun game to play today.

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