Sunday, July 7, 2024

R-Type (Game Boy, 1991)


Another Game Boy Player's Guide game, and one I'm surprised I never posted about already. I actually got this game as a kid, one of the ten or so Game Boy games I ever owned. Unfortunately, out of those ten-ish, this was probably the one I got the least out of. I think I played it a grand total of maybe 2-3 hours at the most, and was pretty much done with it in one day. It's a very short game and doesn't pose any particular challenge, especially compared to other games in this series. Still, it's worth a look.

The R-Type series, from Irem, was sorta the Ross Perot of the shooter universe circa the 1990s. Not as popular or well-known as Gradius and not as beloved by the hardcore as the vertical Compile games. It has a number of innovations that set it apart from (and even surpass at times) the Gradius games.

The premise here is simple, you versus the Bydo Empire, with a Force Pod and several different weapons to cycle through. Don't be scared off by "Credit 3", this game has unlimited continues. It isn't generous with checkpoints though. The good news is that it isn't very difficult at all. R-Type II (and Super R-Type) are a step up and R-Type III is a murderfest. This one, however, is a relaxing cruise in comparison. Which is also why I got bored of it after one day as a kid.

There are about a zillion versions of this game on different systems, but I'll always think of it as this Game Boy version (even though it wasn't the first). It even punches above its weight graphically, especially for 1991.

This immediately separates itself from most shooters of the time by letting you charge up your shots. That's right, there was a time when most shooters didn't even let you charge shots. The charged shot is still kind of puny compared to the rest of the series, where it'd let you unleash bigger and bigger charged shots.

Then you've got the three potential special weapons that you can use at any given time. The laser weapon in this game is probably my favorite of the three, since the lasers bounce off of walls and ceilings for maximum coverage.

These "mini-xenomorphs" as I used to call them are sorta like minibosses. Course, the main claim to fame of these games is that the Force Pod can be launched to operate independently, and there's some creative stuff you can do with that.

If the ship being Xenomorph-like and the miniboss being a mini-Xeno weren't enough, the first boss is also Xenomorph-like. And probably the most iconic foe that people think of when they think of R-Type games.

The key here is to fire the Force Pod into the boss' weak point and just let it erase the boss' health while you dodge its attacks. This is generally the plan with every boss.

This guy shows up in almost every R-Type game. Here he is in R-Type Dimensions for the PS3, which IIRC is a remake of this one.

The second stage is this super-creepy mass of organisms. Is that a Metroid?

Here you can see the Fire Chain weapon in action, which snakes along the floors and ceilings. It doesn't have the full screen AOE coverage of the reflective lasers, but it deals with floor and ceiling foes very effectively. Probably the second-best of the three weapons. Both of these are pretty timeless weapons, and it's little wonder the series hasn't really tried to innovate much beyond them.

What's the third of the three weapons, you ask? The bubble laser, which is just a straight beam. Seen here in R-Type DX*. Does the most damage of any of them but doesn't have any of the coverage. Basically just focuses all your firepower forward, which could be good against bosses.... except that the Force Pod is always the best thing to fire into boss weak-points.

* - R-Type DX is a Game Boy Color remake of this plus R-Type II's Game Boy version, where you play through them back to back as one long game. It's a cool idea and they did a good job colorizing everything. I think it mostly flew under the radar though, mostly.

Second stage boss is this... Facehugger Egg? I don't know. Whatever it is, you manuever the Force Pod to land on top of it there and then hide in the corner.

The third stage boss... is the entire level. That's right, this whole level is a fight with this massive battleship and the zillion guns it's got on it. This is where the Fire Chain really shines as a weapon.

The weak point to bring the ship down is way in the back, and the Force Pod strategy almost feels like cheating here. Managing the Force Pod really sets this series apart from other shooters and makes it much more fun to play than most.

Stage 4 is the only part I really had trouble with as a kid. The foes here have a ton of HP and you're generally supposed to find safe spots to avoid them as they move through the maze, since they're practically invincible. With the slightly-awkward vertical design of the foes and your ship being more of a horizontal line, it's a bit of an annoying level.

The "boss" here is just a bunch of them that you have to slay. It's called Baldo Gardens, which is a mistranslation of Bydo Gardens. And yeah, this whole stage is easily the toughest part of the game, and the one I game overed on a few times as a kid. Once I got past it, I remember slaughtering the last two levels to score the win. Funny how many old games have imbalances like this where the endgame is easier than some mid-game obstacle, and once you get past the tough part midgame you just kinda sail to the end.

Stage 5 is the first one that the Game Boy Player's Guide doesn't cover, so it was pretty exciting to get here as a kid. Unfortunately the level itself is pretty bland, a short factory level with machines.

The stage boss here is this robot that doesn't move and attacks by dropping debris from the ceiling. You can actually fly right up to it and wedge between it and the ceiling there, with the Force Pod continuously damaging it, until the fight ends.

Stage 6 is short and there isn't much to say about it besides that it's another creepy organic level...and another short level. The last couple levels really did kinda just get thrown on. The final boss looks pretty awesome though. It's this well-protected... Xenomorph-Orc thing. Blast through the outer shield, and...

Once there's a momentary opening, fire the Force Pod through before it closes back up. From there the fight's basically over, just dodge around while it does all the work. They say that once the Force Pod is deployed, you don't have much for defenses, but I don't think so. Most of my defense is avoiding foes anyway and I don't rely on the Force Pod as a shield because some foes can go through it.

That's it for this game, and it's a pretty short and sweet one. They don't even pretend that there isn't a sequel already out there, so it's no wonder R-Type DX combined the two. After I spent an afternoon beating this game in 1996, I think I replayed it, then kinda went "huh", put it on a shelf, and never picked it up again. Eventually, in like 2015ish, I sold it in-box for $30 or so and regret nothing.

Well, I may not have had much to say about this and it may be the least-played game I bought as a kid, but it's still got some pretty rad Game Boy Player's Guide coverage. I'm almost done covering everything from said guide so this was a no-brainer to get on here next.

I never understood what "R-9 Rocks Heavily" means. The two "plasma forces" it refers to are basically the two shield pods that you can get (if you live long enough on a life) that protect you from attacks from above and below. They essentially turn into extra, stationary Force Pods that you can also place on foes to damage them. However like the Force Pods I don't rely on them to function as real shields.

Also, they did one better than me here by showing the "specs" screen for the ship, which I neglected to get a shot of myself.

Here's the part that really got me interested as a kid. The last two levels looked all mysterious, and those boss designs are something else (well, mainly the last one). Unfortunately in practice, the last two stages are short, straightforward, unmemorable levels that I only remember for their boss fights.

The Game Boy Player's Guide is looking all weathered and old now. Much like ALL OF US. By my count I've only got a few things left from it to play, which is kind of crazy to think about.

No comments:

Post a Comment