By Guy Rainey / May 24th, 2014
|Release Date||May 20, 2014|
R-Type Dimensions is a modern remake of two classic shoot ’em ups, the original R-Type and R-Type II. Hardcore fans of the R-Type games are probably already decided one way or the other whether they will be picking this up, but what about those of us who haven’t played an R-Type game before?
The story is… I’m not sure, actually. Something about an evil alien empire invading? One thing this port seems to lack is the text scrolls that roll when no one is playing. To select which game to play, you hover over an arcade cabinet on the main menu. These do play the demo footage that would have been on the real arcade cabinets, but, even after watching for a few minutes, I never saw the story scroll appear. The most story I got from the game was the text dump at the end, and, since I didn’t have any context, it didn’t make much sense.
Not that it matters, since story isn’t not what you’re here for. You’re here to try to survive waves of varied, colorful enemies racking up as high a score as possible. For a more authentic arcade experience, you could play on Classic Mode. In this mode, you get three lives. If you get hit even once, you die. Each time you lose a life, you get sent back to a checkpoint. Lose all your lives, and you’re done. There are no continue options. This is the R-Type that fans remember. All the challenge of the arcades has been preserved.
But maybe you aren’t as good at shmups as the average R-Type fan. I include myself in that statement. There are a lot of shoot ’em ups that I would love to dig into, but since my skill level isn’t all that high, I can never get as deep into the game as I would like. R-Type Dimensions adds a mode for me, and for people like me: Infinite Mode. Infinite Mode gives you unlimited lives, so even the least skilled player can brute force their way through it. However, the game keeps track of the number of lives you lose, and puts in on the score card at the end of the level. This is brilliant, since it allows someone like me to fully enjoy the game. I can play each level without fear of failure, but when I see the number of deaths at the end, I can say, “Hmm, I wonder if I can beat that.” So, it adds replay value, even to the less skilled.
That’s not to say that death is without consequence. Like many shmups, you collect weapon power-ups as you go along. These weapon power-ups stack, so, if you collect every one of them, you can have quite the arsenal at the end of the level. Each time you die, you lose some of the weapon power-ups you’ve obtained. Die too many times, and you’ll lose them all. And, since the power-ups are very effective and fun to play with, it’s just one more way the game inspires less experienced players to get better.
That’s not to say that it’s just your ship all alone against an army. You have one ally that is with you after your first power-up: a satellite that sticks to your ship. Now, that’s not all it does. You have two active buttons in R-Type Dimensions — OK, to be honest, the game uses every button on the controller, but most of them do one of two things: fire your guns, or fire/call your satellite. As you can see, you can attach the satellite to the front or the back of your ship. Attached, it can act as a shield for some (though not all) projectiles, and fire weapons (all the power-ups upgrade the satellite’s weapons, not yours). However, you can also detach the satellite at the press of a button. You can then switch positions, or even send it into enemy territory. It is invincible, and can even destroy some enemies by touch alone. It can also get into some areas that you can’t. The satellite will even fire when detached, so, on some bosses, you can send your satellite into enemies’ weak points, and fire away. The satellite gives players a lot of strategic options, which isn’t usually seen in a shoot ’em up game.
Some real work has gone into the presentation. R-Type Dimensions can be considered both a remake and a port. You have the classic 2D sprite art from the original games and a new 3D graphics option, as well. Should you so desire, you can switch them at the touch of a button, without pausing the game. There are also some novelty options here. In the options, there are two more graphics modes: crazy and arcade. Crazy takes the 3D graphics and rotates the camera by 45 degrees or so, giving the game a more dynamic feel. Arcade puts an arcade cabinet into the game, so you get some feel for how the game might have looked in the arcades. It’s little more than novelty, but it’s still a nice touch. The music is awesome in both 3D (where it has been remixed with instruments) and 2D (which retains the original chiptune awesomeness). Sure, most of it is pointless fluff, but it is novel for a few minutes, at least.
As I said, I suspect R-Type fans are already decided on this one way or the other. These games are classics, to be sure, but I doubt there’s enough here to warrant yet another purchase from hardcore fans. That said, if you haven’t played these games before, there may not be a better time to try. The Infinite Mode is great for newbies, and the games are rock solid. There are some niggling issues. For instance, some parts felt really cheap, and would be next to unplayable on Classic Mode. This was an arcade game, after all; they were trying to get quarters out of you, so they made it really hard. Infinite Mode smooths out these issues, though. For $9.99, I say go for it. It’ll be a fun 2-3 hours for your first playthrough, but I think that for most people there will be many more hours of enjoyment.
Review copy provided by the publisher, and is based on the PS3 version of the game