R-Type is a sci-fi side-scrolling shoot-'em-up developed and released by Irem for arcades in Japan on July 1, 1987. It received a worldwide release later that year, with the North America version released by Nintendo.
Playing similar to other side-scrolling shoot-'em-ups of the time, such as Gradius and Darius, R-Type has players piloting starfighter R-9 "Arrowhead" as they take on the biomechanical alien forces of the Bydo Empire, who seek to wipe out all mankind, in the year 2163.
Along with enemy fighter and background designs inspired by the nightmarish works of H.R. Giger, the game is notable for its use of an upgradable companion device power-up known as the "Force", which can be standalone as additional firepower or attached to the player's ship as a shield.
Along with ports to multiple systems, including a PC Engine port that was split into two separate releases (R-Type I and R-Type II) and the high-definition port R-Type Dimensions, the game was included in multiple compilations and received numerous sequels and spin-offs.
Ports & Re-Releases
The game was first ported by Hudson Soft to the Japanese PC Engine as two split releases: R-Type I (released on March 25, 1988) and R-Type II (released on June 3, 1988). As the 2Mb HuCard format could not fit the entire game, the first release included the original game's first four levels, while the second release included the remaining three levels. Players who finish R-Type I receive a password that can be inputted when starting R-Type II to start with the same power-ups.
In 1989, it was released for the North American TurboGrafx-16 as one game (R-Type), using a higher-capacity 4Mb HuCard to include all eight levels in one cartridge.
The combined version was later ported to the PC Engine Super CD-ROM² System in Japan on December 20, 1991 as R-Type Complete CD. Released by Irem themselves, this version includes arrangements of all songs (using redbook audio) and fully-voiced animated cutscenes.
Both PCE versions, as well as the TG-16 version, were later digitally re-released for the Wii as Virtual Console titles in late 2006 and early 2007. The PCE "I" version was released in Japan on December 13, 2006, the PCE "II" version was released in Japan on January 23, 2007, and the TG-16 version was released in both North America (on December 25, 2006) and Europe (on December 29, 2006).
The TG-16 version was later included in all versions of Turbografx-16 Mini / PC Engine Mini / PC Engine CoreGrafx Mini mini-console on March 2020.
In addition to the game's standard joystick controls and dedicated Shot button, the game includes a separate "Force" button for manipulating the Force unit (once it has been acquired).
The player's ship is equipped with a special Beam-Wave Cannon that can be charged-up (by holding down the Shot button) for a powerful shot that is not only larger, but deals more damage and over-penetrates weaker enemies.
By collecting a Laser Crystal dropped by certain enemies, the player's ship can summon an indestructible biomechanical companion known as a "Force". Resembling a glowing orange orb surrounded by mechanical parts, the Force acts both as an offensive weapon system and a defensive shield for the player's ship. Players can upgrade the Force twice by collecting additional Laser Crystals.
The Force has two modes of use, depending on whether or not it is attached directly to the ship. Regardless of mode, the Force absorbs most smaller projectiles, can damage enemies by colliding with them, and fires in conjunction with the player's rate-of-fire (but cannot charge-up shots).
While detached, the Force roams at one of two areas of the playfield (either closer to the right side of the screen while the ship is closer to the left, or closer to the left side of the screen while the ship is closer to the right). Vertically, the Force attempts to maintain the same position as the player's ship.
Regardless of the last Laser Crystal picked up, the Force has only one weapon type while detached. At its base level, it fires the same weapon as the player's standard shot. On the first upgrade, it fires two shots in a forward-facing angle. On the last upgrade, it adds two additional shots, with one shot directly above, one shot directly below.
Players can attach the Force to their ship by colliding with it either from the ship's front (which attaches it to the front) or the ship's back (which attaches it to the back). Pressing the Force button while detached has the Force begin moving towards the player's ship to attach itself.
While attached to either the ship's front or rear, they serve as a makeshift shield and remains on the ship whenever the ship moves.
The base level Force cannot fire weapons while attached. The first upgrade allows it to fire one of three different weapon types (based on the color of last Crystal picked up), while the last upgrade improves all weapon types:
- Reflective Laser (Blue) - Fires three thin blue beams, one straight forward, one in an upward angle, and one in a downward angle. These beams ricochet off of walls and other objects. The last Force upgrade increases the length of each beam.
- Air-to-Air Laser (Red) - Fires two forward-facing beams, one red and one blue. The last Force upgrade causes both lasers to intertwine in a helix pattern for a powerful front-facing attack.
- Air-to-Ground Laser (Yellow) - Fires two flame-like beams, one straight upward and one straight downward. These beams crawl across terrain once it comes into contact with them. The last Force upgrade increases the length of each beam.
Collecting additional Laser Crystals changes the weapon type to match.
Players can detach the Force to their ship by pressing the Force button, which propels the Force to the edge of the screen (right side if attached to the front, left side if attached to the back). This propulsion can also be used as a ramming attack.
Players can acquire special power-up items for their ship by destroying a special type of enemy known as the "POW Armor", then collecting the item they leave behind. All items are lost once the player's ship is destroyed.
- Speed-Up - Increases the movement speed of the player's ship. Can be further increased (up to three times) by picking up additional copies, although higher levels can cause less-precise movement.
- Heat-Seeking Missile - Allows the ship to periodically two fire missiles that track nearby enemies as its firing (or charging-up) their Beam-Wave Cannon.
- Laser Crystal - Summons a Force if it is not active, otherwise upgrades the Force (up to two times) and changes the Force's weaponry (based on the Crystal's color, either blue, red, or yellow).
- Bit - Summons a smaller support "Bit" unit that acts as a shield for the ship. Only two Bits can be active at a time, with the first one above the ship and the second one below the ship.