Year Of Release: 1987
The first game in the popular shooter franchise, R-Type would be released by Irem in 1987. While Irem started the series over the years, R-Type would be developed and published by many different companies such as Hudson, Nintendo and EA. But when most gamers think of R-Type it’s Irem that comes to mind. This first game was released to huge critical and commercial acclaim and was one of the most popular space shooters of its time. You play the role of a space marine, fighter or whatever you want to call him who is piloting a R-9A or Arrowhead if you prefer. As he needs to save the universe from an alien threat simply known as, Bydo.
R-Type is a great looking and sounding game. While its more than fair to say there were better looking arcade games at the time, R-Type was released. The game did actually make you feel like you were part of this war fighting off an evil alien threat. The game had a very “Aliens” kind of look to the way some of the enemies were designed.
As far as the game play goes, R-Type is a side scrolling shooter and its known for one main thing and that is its just brutal difficulty. When you see a list of hardest games of all time. More often than not the original R-Type game will be on that list. Its bone crushing difficulty is something that has stuck with the series over the years. You would need to blast various enemies as you progress to the end of the level where some of the coolest end of level bosses would be waiting for you. The controls were nice and tight and you had some really cool power ups that you could get which could turn this intergalactic war in your favour, but the hardest part of the game was by far the level design.
You see R-Type is a game where you are going to die, die again and then probably die at least another ten times before you run out of money to put in the arcade. This is a game where the level design is so specific that there is a “right” way to progress through the game. How can this be in a scrolling shooter? Some of you may be asking. But there are certain areas where if you go then you will crash into a wall or some structure, but more often than not you will find yourself in an area where when you go to avoid enemy fire you accidently crash into the wall! R-Type is a game that requires level memorisation. You are going to have to play through each level and take on each boss until you know the pattern. This may sound terrible, but R-Type is just such a fun shooter that it never really feels unfair.
Current High Score: 521,840 by Jason Wilson
R-Type was a huge hit in the arcades and it would also prove to be a success when it was released for various home computers and consoles. The TurboGrafx or PC Engine if you prefer has a fantastic port of the game that was developed by Hudson themselves.
There have been a vast number of R-Type sequels and remakes over the year. R-Type II would be released in 1989 and once again be a huge hit both in the arcades and for the computers and systems it was released on. Interestingly, R-Type II would set the ground work for what would be Super R-Type on the Super Nintendo which is regarded as one of the best games in the R-Type franchise.
The Playstation Portable would get two really neat games that turned R-Type into more of a strategic series of games. These are the R-Type Tactics series and proved to be quite popular when they were released.
Most recently R-Type has appeared on the Xbox Live Arcade and the iPad and iPhone, proving that there is still a large audience out there for this amazing shooter.