Overview – developed by Granzella and published by NIS America, R-Type Final 2 is the latest entry in the legendary scrolling shooter series from Irem Corporation. This title features the classic gameplay that made the series popular during its original run, while introducing a couple of features unique to this release. R-Type Final 2 is available on all major platforms, links to each version of this game will be available at the bottom of this review.
Disclaimer: before I get into the review, I would like to thank NIS America for providing the copy of R-Type Final 2 that was used for this piece. The provision of this software has not influenced the contents of this review, all thoughts and opinions contained within are my own.
Now with the introductions out of the way, let’s get into the review. I will be skipping the story segment as there is no significant plot to discuss for this release.
Gameplay – R-Type Final 2 is a scrolling shooter, taking over the course of seven of a possible eleven stages, where the player battles robots, extraterrestrial organisms and aliens from the Bydo Empire. When starting the game, a screen shows up where the player can enter details to set up their pilot. This profile can be changed freely in the main menu, along with additional costumes, color changes and more that can be unlocked during play.
After setting up the profile, the game itself can start proper. The player selects one of three unlocked ships from the hanger, with more that can be unlocked later (which will be discussed later). After selecting the ship, the difficulty options appear with five options to select from that offer increasing levels of challenge for players. The options are Practice, Kids, Normal, Bydo and R-Typer, giving players of all skill levels a chance to succeed.
The stages of the standard game mode follow a linear path, travelling through unique sci-fi environments that are filled with enemies and hazards to overcome, including intense boss battles and large scale set pieces. Be careful however, as any contact with enemies or hazardous objects will destroy the player ship, restarting the level at the closest checkpoint. The majority of stages are played in sequence, with the last few stages depending on choices that are made by the player.
The action is fast paced and the variety of hostiles is impressive, ranging from robots to aliens and even mutated space pineapples that spray bullets across the screen. The amount of enemies on screen, the number of bullets flying past the player and sudden shifts in movement direction can become overwhelming, but there is a silver lining to the difficulty of this title.
During the course of the game, the amount of credits that can be used per set of lives increases over time, starting with only a handful of continues which increases to free play as the maximum. I am unsure as to why this happens, but it is a net positive as it gives everyone the chance to persevere through the harder challenges and make it to the end credits.
During the missions, a specific enemy will appear at set points, dropping items for players to collect that can power up their ship to increase its destructive capabilities. The most effective way to use the pick-ups is to combine them with the special attacks for each ship. Here is a breakdown of the different items and weapons the player has access to;
- Standard Shot – the most basic attack that is available, which can be used with single shot or rapid fire. These attacks deal a preset amount of damage to enemies that are most effective against the smaller enemies.
- Wave Cannon – the cannon is a special charge attack that is charged by holding the standard shot button down, filling a meter up at the bottom of the screen. Releasing the button will unleash a powerful attack that is dependent on the ship chosen. The cannon can be charged past maximum, dealing even more damage to the enemy forces.
- Armament Power Up – the power ups that give the player ship access to enhanced firepower. There are five items that can be collected. The first are laser crystals, red, blue and yellow objects that provide a different attack for the ship which levels up with each crystal collected. The others are a missile pick up to get bombs and a Bit item, a special satellite that protects the player ship.
- Force – a special support item that will appear when a laser crystal is first picked up, growing in power with each crystal that is collected. The Force can attach to the front and back of the player ship, defending from shots while also dealing contact damage to hostiles. The Force can be launched from the ship, becoming an independent entity that will assist the player in varying ways depending on the ship.
- Dose – each time the Force absorbs damage or makes contact with a hostile entity, a gauge called the Dose is slowly filled. When the meter is filled entirely, a feature called a Dose Break becomes active which increases the power of the Force. The player can deplete the Dose meter by activating a special screen filling special attack dealing damage to everything, most useful against bosses.
There is also a score/stage attack mode that can be played separate from the main game, which is useful for practicing the harder stages on higher difficulties and challenge players themselves. The addition of this extra mode, provides more replay value as players are encouraged to get higher scores and experiment with new ships that have been unlocked.
Moving on, I want to talk about the content unlock and upgrade system for this title. When playing through the game, credits are rewarded for each stage that is cleared separated into in game coins and resources. The resources can be used to open up new ships in the Museum when specific requirements have been met, such as a specific amount of the points gained or a specific stage has been cleared.
Unlocked ships functions in a similar way to leveling up in an RPG, featuring a skill tree style progression system, with each new ship potentially adding a new branch to explore. However, there are ships that are locked behind passwords and updates that will added at a later date. This system adds more to do alongside the main game and challenge modes, with almost 100 ships to unlock and a total of 12 slots to create a personalized ship loadout, letting the player modify and change ships between stages.
Finally, I want to cover the gallery and personalization systems. First is the gallery, which offers images and enemy profiles as unlockables to be earned during the course of the game. The images can be used to modify the title screen of the game, along with custom names for extra creative options. The last thing to mention is the pilot/ship cosmetics, where players can buy new suits, helmets, poses and even decals to add to their pilot and their chosen space craft that can be purchased from the in game shop.
Now with gameplay covered without the surprises spoiled, I will be moving onto the other aspects of this release, starting with the controls.
Controls – R-Type Final 2 is an arcade style scrolling shooter, so the controls are simple and effective to use. The shooting is responsive and the movement works well for the most part. Unfortunately, the thumbstick is not the most precise for movement compared to the D-pad/direction buttons, giving the game a twitchy feel when using the left stick. Aside from this minor issue, the overall control of the game is comfortable when using all control methods in both handheld and docked modes.
Difficulty – as mentioned during the gameplay segment, the difficulty options for players are separated into 5 choices (more can be unlocked later) that increase the overall challenge of the stages. During gameplay, increased difficulty can include additional projectiles being fired upon the player, stronger enemies and even altered boss battles at the highest setting. Each of the difficulty options is well balanced and with enough practice (and infinite continues) all settings can be beaten.
Presentation – R-Type Final 2 is very pleasing in the visual department. However, there are some minor issues that occur when playing the game in both handheld and docked modes. The first issue is depth perception and size of projectiles on screen, especially in handheld mode some enemy shots can be difficult to see and it can be tough to see if things are in the background or not. The second complaint is framerate inconsistencies, which occur when there are a lot of objects are on screen causing slowdown.
The sound design for this release is very good with an atmospheric soundtrack, which serves as a perfect accompaniment to the environments that the player explores. There is an effective use of electronic sounds, synth and piano that combine together to create a sense of nostalgia which invokes the spirit of the titles that came before it. Overall, the graphics and music work well to enhance the experience, making for an enjoyable experience.
Final Thoughts – I have been a longtime fan of the R-Type franchise, so I jumped at the chance to play this entry in the series. I can happily say that it has the same quality of gameplay, challenging stage design and impressive boss battles that made the R-Type name popular during its early years. The action is exciting, the gameplay is rewarding and aside from the minor issues with occasional drops in framerate/visibility, this is an almost perfect return after over 10 years of waiting.
I have no problem recommending this title to fans of the franchise and those who enjoy scrolling shooters in general. The content included with this title is more than enough to keep you occupied for a considerable amount of time, along with the ship unlock tree and pilot customization. There is even additional stage packs that are being released as DLC, adding a total of extra six stages to the game (I have not been able to test this content) pushing the total stages to challenge to seventeen.
In the end, I give R-Type Final 2 a final score of 4/5. This is an excellent return from the once dormant scrolling shooter franchise, with a plethora of ships to unlock, challenging stages to take on and the classic arcade style gameplay you would expect from a title bearing the R-Type name. if you want to check this title out for yourself, links to each version of the game will be below.
Link to Nintendo Switch version (HERE)
Link to PlayStation 4 version (HERE) – US version could not be found
Link to Xbox One version (HERE)
Link to Steam version (HERE)