Since 1987 R-Type has graced a range of platforms, most of which being ports of the original classics. Keeping with this running trend, the name has been plastered on yet another blend of the same first two games with a few additional extras. R-Type is as simple as it gets, requiring you to navigate from the left of the screen to the right fighting off waves of scripted enemies, typically ending in a climatic boss battle. The series has earned a name for itself by the nail biting difficulty and the slick sci-fi pixel work which was beautiful in its day.
The main feature which is promoted by the game is, as the name would suggest, Dimensions. When starting a new game you can select a range of options to select the style that suits you. One of the many options on offer is the chance to play in retro 2D goodness, or brand new flashy 3D. Whilst this holds nothing new in comparison to other retro titles remade for XBL, R-Type Dimensions takes it a step further and allows you to seamlessly change from 2D to 3D, and back, at a simple button press during the action. Such a simple feature must have provided endless complications for the developers, and is one which is worth the effort for the single moment of “ooh cool!”.
Other options on offer include screen ratio, camera effects (such as screen tilting), and mode choice. For each of the two games, R-Type and R-Type 2, you can select from Infinite or Classic mode. A word of warning to anyone wanting to jump into the lion pit with Classic mode, it might be wise to use a wired controller to prevent it smashing against the wall when thrown. A single bullet, enemy or obstacle coming into contact with your ship will spell game over, a formula to bring any veteran gamer to their knees. I know that it is possible to beat (hell, I looked!) and some have even managed it with no power-ups, but in my little world where I lack special human abilities I was tormented for hours on just the easy levels.
On the flip side to this brick wall they call a difficulty curve is Infinite mode, where beginners and slow minded folk can come together and destroy their ship over and over, never being punished for doing so. Whilst I hate the frustration Classic mode provides, the challenge is bitter sweet – something which the developers would have been foolish to leave out. The downside of the modes for me comes with the easier Infinite mode, which removes the sense of achievement and challenge by not simply lowering the difficulty but removing it all together. You can literally put the pad down and watch the game self-destruct its way to success.
A welcome addition to R-Type fans is co-op online (and local) play, allowing you to halve the frustration with a friend. This coupled with leaderboards adds the typical flare of playing age old classics on your current generation console. Whether these new features on offer add up to 1200 MS points is a personal question of what type of gamer you are. Retro fans will no doubt rejoice, as will gamers who love the pad breaking frustration of a challenge.