R-Type is widely considered one of, if not the greatest shooters every created. But kick off any conversation with a shooter fan about R-Type and you're likely to get a 10 minute rant on how excruciatingly difficult the game is. Over the years, shooters have come and gone. Some have been good and some have been bad, but in the end R-Type is still the shooter by which all other shooters are judged. And one play through of the game will make it quite apparent as to just why that is.
The control scheme in R-Type is fairly straightforward. You can tap the fire button to shoot out a stream of cannon fire or hold the fire button down to charge up and unleash a powershot. You can also pick up various types of firepower that are dropped, as well as "pods" that will attach to your ship and increase your firepower spread. As with most other shooters out there, you'll have to navigate your way through each area where you'll square off with a huge screen-filling boss at the end of each level. But where most shooters only get difficult once you reach the boss, R-Type makes getting to the boss just as challenging.
The control itself is smooth and responsive, which is a good thing considering some of the tricky maneuvering you'll have to do along the way in each level. The powershot will also come in quite handy against some of the stronger enemies in the game and adds a nice degree of balance to a situation that will at times feel quite overwhelming. Make no mistake about it, R-Type is not for the faint of heart and you'd better be ready to put some time in on this game if you want to have any chance of beating it. At least you can rest easy knowing that the game provides you with all the tools and spot-on play control you'll need to do it.
The unique mix of metal and organic visuals found in the arcade game are replicated quite well using the TurboGrafx-16 console's large color palette and you'd be hard-pressed to find a better home version of the game from this time period than this one. There will be periods of slowdown when things get a bit too hectic onscreen, but it doesn't really take much away from the overall experience, in fact there will be times when things become so intense that you'll actually welcome it. Even the screen-sized bosses from the arcade release manage to retain all of their size and detail in this solid console port of the game.
As great as the visuals are in R-Type, it's the soundtrack that set new standards for music in arcade games at the time of its release and the game's music still ranks high on the list of all-time greats. All of the music and sound effects are here, and much like the visuals, are nearly indistinguishable between the arcade and Turbografx-16 versions of the game. Over the years, shooter soundtracks have moved over to CD-quality audio but there's still something to be said for this classic soundtrack that was clearly way ahead of its time.
No shooter fan's collection would be complete without at least one version of the classic R-Type game and this TurboGrafx-16 version is still one of the best. If you want to play one of the first truly great scrolling shooters in video game history, look no further than this absolutely legendary title. Just remember to bring your "A" game along for the ride or you'll wish you had.