The R-Type series is famous for a number of reasons. Ball busting difficulty, unique weapons and that infamous alien that adorns the box art doesn’t hurt either. Most popular in the arcades the original R-Type was ported to nearly every home console of the time with varying degrees of success. With its later release Irem decided to gift the SNES with an exclusive, Super R-Type.
Super R-Type was released at the SNES launch in both North America and Japan. The Bydo Empire has invaded our galaxy and it’s up to our lone star ship to repel their forces across 7 levels. Why God, why do they always send one god damn ship to fight an alien armada? The Star Fox team has the right idea but they lose points because, you know, Slippy sucks. While mostly based off of R-Type II there are original stages thrown in creating a weird pastiche. Regardless only the sturdiest of shooter fans will see the end of this game.
The R-Type series has always marched to the beat of its own drum, ignoring the trends set by others shmups. The pace is slower and more methodical, allowing you enough time to assess any given situation the majority of the time. Your arsenal of weapons is vast, beginning with the series defining Force option. This multipurpose pod can be attached to the front or back of your ship and sent out to provide additional firepower at any time. A powerful tactic is to shoot it inside the stronger enemies where it will continue to damage it while still making contact. The weapons available: Counter air laser, rebound laser, spread laser, shotgun bomb, and counter ground laser become available at specific points in the levels. Generally if you see one chances are you’ll need it for what is ahead. All of your weapons can also be attached to the back of your ship when necessary and choosing the best one at any given moment is essential to survival.
The difficulty is high, sometimes not for the right reasons. Although the pace is slower than most shooters it can be very easy to become overwhelmed by the sheer chaos on screen. Move too slowly and the screen will be cluttered with enemies. The game does an exceptional job of inundating you with smaller foes and herding you into walls because you were too focused on what is in front of you. This is especially true for the boss battles. Power-ups are few in number for every level, sometimes you’ll have to advance through a third of any given stage before one shows up.
I mentioned the right weapon for the task at hand is usually there when you need it, this can also backfire and leave you stuck fighting a particularly tricky boss with an inappropriate weapon. The two biggest culprits however are the lack of checkpoints and the slowdown. The slowdown is some of the worst on the SNES with the game nearly screeching to a halt at points; the flip side is you can take advantage of it. Starting every level from the beginning if you die at any point is completely unfair though. That level of archaic design should have died years prior to this game’s release.
It sounds damning but these are the standard elements of any given R-Type game. Some of it is unreasonable but at its core this is still a solid shooter. The soundtrack is phenomenal and if you like your games hard Super R-Type has that in spades. Unlimited continues ease the pain but the heavy repetition of starting over after dying will deter most. But then again most of the best shooters have that masochistic streak to them.