ST Format Review
Before I start my review, here’e ST Format’s take on the game.
R-Type is a conversion of an arcade classic, handled by Electric Dreams who did such an excellent job with Super Hang-On. As you’ll likely already know it’s a side-scrolling shooter set in space, with the simple objective of killing anything that moves (and if it doesn’t, kill it just in case it starts moving).
The game eases you in gently but if you’re an idiot like me, you can still die. While the flying nasties are a problem if you’re as cack-handed as I am, the bigger problem is the tiny bullets floating around, which seem to be about 2 pixels by 2 pixels (admittedly chunky pixels). With the game a little jerky, especially compared with the [utl=[MEDIA=youtube]xmEhC91k3MI[/MEDIA] version[/url].
The game lets you throw a decent number of bullets around (to an extent that early on strafing up and down while mashing fire is a valid strategy) and as a bonus holding the fire button down grants you a fireball of different sizes depending on how long you power up, as a means to do some crowd control.
Space becomes more constricted as you progress, with nasties coming in from all angles and of course the perennial shooter vulnerability comes up, that if it’s not directly in front of your ship you can’t fight it. The game does throw a lot of sprites around the screen but I can’t help wondering if it might benefit from shrinking some of them for a more zoomed-out view in order to let the ST cope a little better, given framerates do drop a bit.
Enemies are a step up from the Space Invaders school of patterned attacks, coming in waves but being willing to deviate from the pattern and react to the player, as well as hiding behind obstacles. The bosses are pretty awesome too, featuring some lovely artwork and clever ideas (see below where your best approach is to get in the middle and shoot as it rotates around you).
Enhanced Version 2015
http://www.atarimania.com/game-atari-st-r-type-deluxe_30442.html – requires 2mb+ STE.
When I was hunting for an R-Type disk image (as it’s not in TOSEC) I found this enhanced version, made in 2015 for the STE, with a rather exotic 2MB of RAM (which almost nobody had back in the day). It’s much closer to the Amiga version offering smoothness the Electric Dreams version lacks. This is in part due to the STE’s superior hardware and in part due to the better hardware knowledge (the later ST games were so much smoother than these early ones which really suffer from a lack of technical knowledge at the time as developers were moving over from 8-bit and figuring out what these machines could do).
The smoother and more responsive controls make it easier and more enjoyable, so if you’re not a purist you may find this version a better choice.
Overall it’s a decent shooter doing lots of clever things and certainly a good game for its time, and I had a good time with it even though shooters aren’t really in my wheelhouse.