I absolutely love it when classic arcade games make it into the App Store and remind me just how soft this new generation of games has made me. R.Type, brought to us by DotEmu, is the latest game to make me feel the shame of being out of touch with my arcade roots. Is this port of a classic still a winner? Or should you save your virtual quarters for a more worthy pursuit?
The premise is simple: you jump into your very own R-9a ship and blow aliens to kingdom come in a side-scrolling shooter. R.Type was one of the first, and if I may be so bold to say, one of the very best in the genres. But now that it's made it onto iOS devices (for the second time after being pulled), has it retained much of its former charm and addictive gameplay?
In short, yes. But the transition is not a flawless one. R.Type retains its head-smashing difficulty, fun power-ups and punishing boss battles, but there's one thing that players have to contend with first: the controls.
Since you'll be playing on a touchpad instead of a controller, you'll notice that you have to get used to a different play style. You can can either control the R-9a with your finger, dragging it around the screen however you like, or with a virtual directional pad. Dragging around with your finger is faster, but your hand might end up blocking portions of the screen, giving you a pretty big blind spot. The virtual d-pad affords your more visibility, but also makes it so that your ship moves a little slower. Whatever control scheme you use, you'll still have a button to fire your guns manually and to deploy your Force unit (if you happen to pick one up).
Force units are little satellites that look like orbs that shoot from either the front or back of your R-9a. You can launch this item forward to have it attack enemies in its path before it wanders back to you. This is especially usually in the encounter with the first level's boss, since you can just send the Force flying towards its weak spot while you fire from a safe distance.
There are eight levels in all that can be played in Unlimited, Normal and Insane modes. Unlimited is basically a free-play option that lets you restart as many times as you want. Gone are the days of fearing for your quarters. Normal mode is the tried-and-true difficulty from the game's original days in the arcade. And Insane mode is reserved for those who like seeing just how high their blood pressure can go.
And really, that's all there is to the game. You fly, you shoot, you collect power-ups, you die -- a lot -- and then you do it all over again in a different setting. But that's not to say that R.Type isn't fun, because it's just as rewarding as it ever was. You'll tear your hair out trying to get past certain parts, but all you have to do is take your time, find patterns and then conquer.
Besides, classic games like this were made for trial and error so that the persistent can come out victorious and with a real sense of accomplishment. This is one game that doesn't hold your hand and offers a no-frills shooting experience. If you want to own a classic piece of gaming history, pony up your $1.99 and get this from the App Store now!