Tuesday, July 9, 2024

R-Type II (Game Boy, 1992)


This one I played way later in time than the other one, and for a while didn't even know it existed. The first one was the only one I saw covered or talked about anywhere. And there's a very good reason for this: It never came out in North America. That's right, it got Japan and Europe releases and then they just kinda cancelled the American version. Regardless, this is basically part two of the first game, picking up right where it left off. It has a lot in common with Super R-Type (but not everything). I think most people only experienced this via the R-Type DX compilation on Game Boy Color, especially in the States.

This is it, the game that was TOO HOT FOR AMERICA.

Well, not really. Hard to believe this dropped barely a year after the first one.

We have an intro movie this time, explaining that the Bydo Empire is attacking...again. What exactly makes the Bydo Empire tick? How did they get so many bizarre creatures on board with their dastardly agenda? What IS their dastardly agenda? Who's their leader? Can they be reasoned with? Why don't the good guys have more than one ship? Why isn't there build variety? WHERE IS MY BUILD VARIETY?

The charge shot returns, complete with giant Lagoon style charge meter. Or whatever game that was.

This is the first game in the series to introduce the double charged shot. Charge all the way to full and keep charging, and before long the meter will fill a second time. The second charged shot is a spread shot that pretty much annihilates everything in front of you.

The three special weapons return and they're all pretty much the same as usual. The reflective laser is still my go-to for spraying and praying. Also, this game has pretty dramatic slowdown due to more enemies/projectiles onscreen than the previous one, and the reflective laser helps trigger the slowdown (which can make the game substantially easier in tough spots). It seems clear that this game was intended to be played after the first, as the difficulty of Stage 1 more or less overlaps with Stage 5 of the previous game, etc.

First boss. Unlike the first game where you could beat any boss by parking the Force Pod on them, in this one the bosses are only vulnerable for short durations and have weak points that'll be intermittently exposed.

Stage 2 is an aquatic level where you slow down every time you pass through the water. The backgrounds in this game are a lot more detailed than the first, and while playing it I thought that it must have come along late in the Game Boy's lifespan (my guess was 1997 or so). Was a big surprise to find that it was only a year after the first.

It even has physics on things like waterfalls, which push your ship downward. And like most shooters, bumping into any walls is insta-death, so this is a problem.

The boss designs are really detailed in this one, but also these things are so misshapen that it's hard to even tell what you're looking at a lot of the time. Still, impressive boss artwork.

Third stage is a fight with a ship armada, like the first game. Except instead of one massive ship it's a bunch of large ships.

Each ship is basically 50% miniboss and 50% stage layout obstacle. It's a lot of fun to take out all the gun pods on one of these things.

Unlike the first game, this time the ship armada ends with a separate boss fight. It's possible to fly through this boss without being damaged, and hiding inside of it is actually an effective strategy.

The next stage is full of these block walls that converge and try to trap you.

Sometimes they appear in front, but it's nothing a double-charge shot can't handle.

Next boss is a trio of glass eye things that are stationary while all kinds of obstacles fly onto the screen. It's sorta like that stage 5 robot boss in the previous game, except times 3.

Final stage is a creepy organic level, as is tradition (only now with background graphics).

This gives away to a mechanical structure towards the end, leading to the final boss:

This weird "brain in a case" which is the head of the Bydo Empire. Not sure if this is the same weird creature from the end of the previous game. It sorta looks like it might be that guy's head, which could be all that was left of him after that game.

So that's it for R-Type II, and the Bydo Empire is defeated for real... until R-Type III, that is, where they really go balls-to-the-wall. That was the last one I really got into as a kid, and soon I'm going to play it again for the first time in about 25 years.

But first, Super R-Type, which is kind of a remake of R-Type II, but also has some stuff from the first game, and some new stuff. It's really the best of all worlds and the one I'd recommend over this.

Programmed in Wales? Wait, what? Wales makes video games? Run Silent? Run Deep? WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?

So, final thoughts on this one: I'm not sure why it didn't get a North American release. It's a quality game, and feels like the second half of the previous game. Makes a fair amount of improvements too. In the end, it's too close to Super R-Type for me to go out of my way to ever play it again, but still, it's a cool game.

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