Perhaps the most exciting, and equally excruciating few weeks I’ve ever had playing a game, was spent with R-Type. It quickly became a disability I had to conquer, and although an expensive one, was definitely worth putting my life on hold for. I think R-Type gets the balance just right; and embodies a certain kind of spirit which can appeal to the underdog in all of us.
The beginner has a fighter’s chance (maybe), and rewards the experienced for playing well. It’s bursting with personality, identifiable enemies, brilliantly crafted design, and you don't start out with a pea shooter for a weapon.
R-Type had the force (not that force)… a physical and mental power that could attach and release at will. The weapon could be upgraded in three stages, by collecting laser crystals left behind. The force was a breath of fresh air, and could be mounted on either the front or rear of the R-9 fighter, delivering devastating carnage.
The arcade original is the definitive version, but the Pc Engine (despite resolution), Amiga, ZX Spectrum and other 8-bit conversions were highly accurate. The visual gap between the different versions is massive, and though the world has a better pixel count in the Arcade original, its core design, and idea are still relevant in the lesser machines.
R-Type featured massive firepower! Giant warships, a variety of creatures, eight stages, and a queasily brilliant confrontation with the iconic end of level boss, Dobkeratops. Not many games can lay claim to legendary status, but R-Type is up there, alongside Pacman, Space Invaders, Outrun, Metal Gear, Mario, Sonic, and the Final Fantasy series. It’s a masterpiece held firm within gaming history, and a shining beacon of what the old generation achieved.