Classic side-scrolling shoot ‘em up action.
When I was a young teen, weekends generally meant heading down to the amusement arcade in the seaside town of my youth, and dropping all of my pocket money into arcade machines. Games like Spy Hunter and Altered Beast held my attention. Then there was R-Type.
The game had a reputation. It was harsh. It had a level of difficulty that meant only the best arcade gamers would even stand a chance of making any sort of significant progress. Doing well on the game would ensure a crowd of eager spectators, cheering you on. I, on the other hand, had difficulty getting past the first boss.
Nothing much has really changed there. After making an appearance in various different guises on most consoles, R-Type has finally made it’s way onto the iPhone, bringing with it the legendary difficulty.
For those who have never played R-Type I would first suggest that you come out from under your rock. I would then explain the basics. You have a little spaceship that moves from left to right through a side-scrolling environment. Your task is simply to survive through each of these levels. Along the way you will be assaulted by hordes of enemies and some very impressive boss creatures. Dodge or shoot your way through them all whilst collecting power-ups that make your ship more powerful or better defended. That is pretty much all you need to know.
R-Type is best played with a joystick and a couple of buttons, but that’s not an option with the iPhone. Instead you have three different control methods that you can employ. The first involves tilting the iPhone to make the ship move. Autofire is best turned on and then just tilt to move the ship up, down, left or right. This method actually works surprisingly well. But I still question any game that has the player titling the screen away from their eyes.
The second method, and in my mind the best, is the touch and slide method. Simply put your thumb or finger on the screen and drag in the direction you want your ship to move. Again, having autofire certainly makes this method easier. There are buttons on the right side of the screen to activate special weapons and such.
The third method pays its respects to the old school, with an on screen d-pad and buttons. These are laid out towards the bottom of the screen, with the playing area shrunk to represent an arcade cabinet. It looks good, and works quite well, but I have yet to get my head around on-screen d-pads. I don’t like them.
The game has three modes: Unlimited, which offers the player unlimited lives with which to get through the game, standard and insane, which needs to be unlocked and requires some kind of sanity check. The game looks and sounds good, especially since the style was set back in 1987. So there is no problem there.
The only problem with this game, providing that you can get on with at least one of the control schemes, is the already mentioned difficulty. Seriously, the game is just as hard now as it was back then, and I like to think that I have improved as a gamer in the past twenty odd years.
Still, if you are looking for a side-scrolling shooter that will slap you in the face and drive you to despair, yet offer such a sense of satisfaction whenever progress is made, you need look no further. R-Type is one of the most frustrating, yet exhilarating games available on the iPhone.
R-Type, from EA, is available on the App Store for just Â£1.19