is a name synonymous with "side-scrolling" shooter, popularized in the arcade nearly two decades ago by Irem. The series extended into many sequels in the arcade and the console, and even saw a decent port to the Game Boy when Nintendo left the world of grey-scale and into the realm of full color in R-Type DX.
. R-Type Final
recently shipped on the PlayStation 2, and hot on its heels is the extremely long-in-waiting Super NES port of R-Type III
for the Game Boy Advance. This conversion is decent on a technical level, but in terms of gameplay this design needed to spend a lot more time in the cooker.
- Six levels
- Three different Force Pods
- Password save
I'm not going into this review as an expert on all things R-Type.
In fact, I haven't sat down with an R-Type
game since the original Super NES
game during that system's first year of life. So, this game is being reviewed on its own merits, and not how good or bad the port is in comparison to the Super NES edition...which is what this game's entirely based upon.
With that said, the game is a great looking arcade-style side-scrolling shooter that, at the very least, puts the Game Boy Advance's hardware capabilities to use. Raylight Studios prides itself in its BlueRoses graphics engine, popularized in its games such as Wing Commander Prophecy for DSI as well as Ozzy & Drix for Midway. For R-Type III the graphical demands aren't quite as enormous to require fully 3D objects since the original design resorted to background and sprite tricks for many of the game's effects. The engine can definitely handle a lot of sprites and objects on-screen, and the design puts this ability to use in several places throughout the game's levels. But Raylight's engine comes in handy for when the level designs require object and background scaling and rotating, much like the Super NES' Mode 7. In one challenge, for example, you're required to move the ship in a safe zone while a structure slowly rotates around.
Other effects are subtle and don't affect the gameplay at all. Watch the background where a tumbling monolith floats on by. I imagine something like this wasn't in the Super NES as these background items are fully 3D, texture mapped objects. They're few and far between, but it's obviously thrown in so the developers can say, "See? This is what our engine can do.
But as good as the game looks, at least on the level of old-school side scrolling shooters anyway, the game is full of little annoyances that add up to big problems, and it's these problems that hurt the game so much that it makes it not so much fun to play. For instance, the fact that the ship's collision detection extends a few pixels beyond the sprite causes so many problems with the gameplay that it borders on system-chucking frustration. Creep too close to an enemy and the ship will explode simply because the sprite's programming said, "oops, too close!" Even when the sprite never even touched the hazard.
Level designs are also a bit of a drag. They go on for far too long, and the game's pace is incredibly slow. And even though this is apparently a R-Type trademark, it doesn't make the game all that exciting...and since much of the game's challenge comes from negating corridors and "mazes" you'll find yourself wishing the game moved more quickly just so your ship doesn't have to stay inside a predetermined, narrow corridor...all the while the environment automatically scrolls sluggishly on either side. And when the game does move quickly, there are gameplay "cheats" in place to make the game feel more challenging; too far to the right of the screen and you might be killed simply due to a fast-moving wall popped up with zero warning.
And though the audio initially impresses on start-up with a very dynamic and retro-sounding "SHNNNG!" when the R-Type III logo pops up on the screen, the rest of the sound falls flat; the soundtrack, something that could have given the game a powerful boost, ends up muddied, muffled, and drowned out by the sound effects.
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