Review: R-Type Final (PS2)

R-Type Final
Release Date: 02/03/04
Developer: Irem
Publisher: Eidos
Genre: SHOOTER

Sorry this review is a bit late. With my recent forays into the music section and everyone’s favorite countdown, I’ve just not had the time to do a review. Hell, we’ve all been slacking in the review area, but that changes now.

R-Type Final. The last in the long lovely series that is one of the greatest shooter series of all time. We hade R-Type 1, 2, 3, Super R-Type, R-Type Leo, R-Type Delta, and now we come to the final member of the series. And Irem is serious about this being the last ever R-Type game. And I could rant here about the demise of my beloved shooter genre. Of how it’s so lame that 2D gaming is taking a back seat to the prettier but still inferior 3D versions of the genres I love. How Sony has said Samurai Spirits and SVC Chaos aren’t good enough for the PS2. Of course, they said the same thing to Soul Hackers, which adds to even more hate towards SCEA and why I only own a Japanese Ps2 (Sakura Wars PINK). But I won’t. I’ve still got all my shooters. I wasn’t the dumb ass who didn’t grab Ikaruga when it was available all over. I’m the one that still has R-Type on the Game Boy, Gradius on the NES and Super R-Type for the SNES. I grabbed Bangai-O on launch day and three groundhogged it to death. It should be all of you lamented the death of the 2D shooter. Not me. But then a lot of you don’t know what you’re missing.

Of course, as there are 6 R-Types, it’s easier to get emotional about this game. It has a legacy from 8 bit goodness to today. And since this game is cheap and easy to find, hopefully by the end of this review you’ll have but down whatever crappy platformer you have in your PS2 or turn off your Mario Party. Because they’re a new game in town and it requires actual skill to play.

Let’s Review

1. Story

For those of you not used to the genre, one would think there is no story to these games. There are generally no cut scenes or dialogue. Just one ship blowing up thousands of other things. But the great thing about shooters, is that the plot stays basically in the manual. You are given a synopsis of the plot and then you are limited only by your imagination as to what the story is.

Of course, that doesn’t mean the story is a classic. It’s you and your ship against the infamous Bydo Empire which is trying to commit genocide on the human race. As the pilot of Operation Last Dance, it’s time for blowing up a lot of stuff. And I mean A LOT of stuff.

Sure the plot is fluff. But at least there is some. And if you’ve played most of the other R-Types, there are a lot of tributes and in comments to the old games. And if you can successfully unlock the hidden time travel level, then you’ll see more of the plot unfold.

And there are different endings to the game. One you can’t unlock until you’ve beaten the game once. One you can’t unlock until you’ve beaten the game twice! This may not sound lie a big deal, but for a shooter, this is amazing.

R-Type may be over, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen Irem put so much work into a Shooter before in terms of plot. Thank you!

Story Rating: 6/10

2. Graphics

Homina homina homina. It’s beautiful. Sure what appears on your screen is small, but look at the detail. The backgrounds are stunning. The texture and the design of the ships are simply amazing. 100 different ships, all unique and beautiful takes a lot more talent than designing a bunch of cyberchicks in bikinis that only look different by boob size and hair style. Look at how Iren managed to make this game quite possibly the most replayable ever. Over 80 types of Wave cannons! 12 types of missiles and bits! Over 50 force attacks! ARRRRRRGH! And they all look different! They are all unique and wonderful and make the game feel completely new! THIS is graphical achievement. Not something that looks almost human. That’s been done so many times it is passe. THIS took skill and talent and genius. When is the last time you saw a game that offered you over ten thousand ways to design your character. And none of the designs felt like one you made before!

Jesus people, if this doesn’t impress you, I don’t know what will aside from Hentai dating simulators. If you can’t look at R-Type for five minutes and have your mind blow by the massive amount of work that they put into the graphics, you shouldn’t be gaming. I know that makes me sound like a pompous ass, but it’s true. The variety of things that can be done to your ship. The massive amounts of enemies you can blow up with out slowdown. These are things that matter. Not 3D rendered aliens screaming when you shoot them
with a shotgun. Any developer seems capable of that nowadays. This…THIS is an achievement that should make you all fly to Japan and offer your first born children to the Pagan Gods that are Irem. Go now. Impregnate women and harvest their womb parasites. The Irem are impatient and vengeful gods.

Graphics Rating: 10/10

3. Sound

Nothing warms my heart more than the sound of alien flesh and metal being torn apart by human backed laser power. And you will hear a lot of that in R-Type Final. Explosion after explosion after wave of force cannon fire. It’s glorious. Is there a sound for each type of weapon as there is a graphical representation. No. Of course not. When something blows up, it blows up. But the lack of variety here doesn’t matter as the effects are gold.

And then we have the music. This is the Last R-Type. The grand finale to an epic saga spanning nearly twenty years of gaming history. And the music makes that very clear. You can hear in the music for each stage that this is IT. The last. The end of either humanity or Bydo. A battle to the death and both sides know it. Sublime. Simply sublime.

Would I buy the soundtrack? No. The music is in a symbiotic relationship with the game. The game needs the music to achieve the full effect of this Series ending. The music needs the game to truly elicit the emotional overtones of it all. But it’s damn good for what it is.

Sound Rating: 8/10

4. Controls

There’s something that makes my Retrogaming self giggle like a schoolgirl when I think of how LITTLE the controls have changed over the years for R-Type. It is in essence as untouched as the game could be considering its humble roots on Nintendo’s 8 bit juggernaut. The square button fires your wave cannon. Hold down square to change the cannon you are using. X releases and calls back the force orb. Circle is autofire. Triangle shoots the dose charge, L1 and L2 change the ships speed.

Like every shooter, this game requires hair trigger reflexes and skills you just can’t get from playing Sonic or a turn based RPG. The only thing other than a shooter that can help your harness the speed you need would be an old school 2D fighter. But make no bones, if you have a problem with the controls, it is all you. It is you that need the practice, not the controller than is messing up.

Yes it’s a hard game. Even on easy an inexperienced shooter fan will get annoyed. On the hardest difficulty? Even I start cussing like a sailor. But that makes the game all the more enjoyable.

Control Rating: 8/10

5. Replayability

Levels that change the more you play them? Infinite possibilities in terms of designing your ship and blowing Bydosians away? You could own just this game, JUST THIS GAME, on your PS2 and you wouldn’t need another one. If there was ever a game that deserved a perfect in this column it is R-Type Final. I still can’t get around all the options in this game and things to unlock. I could write an entire review just on this section. So I’m shutting my mouth before I can letter the babble take over and will simply say this: Codes, ships, weapons, endings. You can’t beat R-Type final in this category. Not even my beloved Ikaruga can stand up to R-Type Final in terms of options.

Replaybaility: 10/10

6. Balance

The game starts out like any shooter beginning. Simple enough to let you get the basics but then the difficulty level is cranked through the roof! And the bosses? Oh my are the bosses tough, touch, TOUGH! I love it! This game provides a challenge almost akin to Ikaruga. And the Bydo final boss is Stage 7A? Get ready for the longest battle in shooter history! This game goes all out to make you work for your ending.

Now, although most games would get a low rating for having such a steep learning curve, that’s the point of shooters. They started off being designed to be as hard as possible so that you would keep sticking quarter after quarter into the slots of an arcade console, whittling your hard earned allowance into a soulless machine. And R-Type Final continues the trend. However, now you only have to pay what? Thirty bucks to own this game FOREVER. It’s nice to see the difficulty hasn’t been killed simply because it’s a home console game.

It’s going to be a game that will piss you off at first if you’re not used to 2D shooters. But the more you play, the better you will get. And the more you will love it and hug it and name if George.

Balance Rating: 8/10

8. Addictiveness

It’s a long shooter. Far longer than most we’ve had to play over the last few years. And knowing there are multiple endings and a hundred playable ships? That increases the addiction factor if you’re the kind of obsessive compulsive gamer that needs to get 100% on everything.

At the same time, shooters are the type of games you either put down after five minutes or play until you have beaten the game. Forgetting to eat, drink, sleep, blink or defecate.

I think this is going to be more addicting to the casual gamer simply because of things like multiple endings and unlockable ships. It doesn’t take as much skill as Ikaruga either, but that could be a good thing.

I love this game and could play it nonstop if not for the existence of Pokemon, KoF and other shooters, but I could see other people getting frustrated at the challenge instead of getting into it. But in the end, it’s my review and I have a hard time putting down the control. R-Type Final made me actually want to play the PS2. And that’s a huge rarity for me. If only this game was on other systems. HINT HINT…¦

Addictiveness Rating: 8/10

9. Appeal Factor

This should be where I lament the dying 2D shooter genre in the US. Where I bitch and moan in the Lucardian style you’ve all grown to love as I foam at the mouth and rant and use the word f*ck far more than a professional writer should. But I’ll be reserved. See, I have ranted that little pet peeve of mine to death in the original Ikaruga review, in the Gamecube feature, and in the DC feature. This time I’ve saving that anger and venom for Fred when he reviews Gradius V in a few weeks. I’m sure he will do me proud. Or else I’ll get LC to do a commentary on it. He loves them shooters too!

Now, because the average gamer seems to be afraid to try shooters, or else just dislikes them, I can’t in good conscience give R-Type Final a high appeal factor. Only gamers that seem to scare people like myself or ECM are that zany over shooters. Even here at 411, there’s a small handful of us. LC and Fred love them, but nowhere to the degree I do. And Williams and Bebito will play, but they can take or leave the genre. At one time, this genre was king. Now it’s a shred of its former glory and greatness. It’s sad but times, they be a changing.

I hope you people will go out and try the game. I’d beg and plead and beseech you, but in the end only you can make yourself rent or buy R-Type and I know the majority of people just would rather have a 3-D platformer or a Final Fantasy game. It’s your loss, but even if you only rent it, try the genre!

Appeal Factor: 5/10

10. Miscellaneous

Do I really have to cover this again for you? R-Type Final has covered everything. It’s got a Museum. 100 ships to unlock. Tons of customization and Iren went out of their way to make their last R-Type the best. And they succeeded in spades. Never before has a shooter tried to pack in so many nifty things into a single game. Iren deserves a lot of credit for what they have done and I salute them for it. I also thank Eidos for bringing this to the US. This doesn’t make up for all those Tomb Raider games, but it’s a start.

In short, R-Type Final is one of the most impressive games I’ve ever seen in terms of little extras put in by the developers. Tributes to the past games, old ships and villains, and tons of ways for you to play up evil aliens. Thank you Iren. Not only for R-Type Final, but for ever chapter in the R-Type saga.

Miscellaneous Rating:10/10

Short Attention Span Summary
It’s going to be this or Gradius V that gets shooter of the year in 2004. R-Type Final may be the best R-Type ever made, but it’s still not Ikaruga in terms of quality. Although R-Type Final has a lot of extras and is beautiful to look at, it still lacks some of the challenge and gameplay found in other shooters. Still, this is a game that gets one of my highest possible recommendations. But it may not be for everyone due to the difficulty and the fact gamers have gotten that half the fun is in the challenge. And dodging fire from a few dozen enemies ships at once.