Shooter fans, we've got sad news for you: R-Type is over. The franchise that defined many gamers' early memories of the side-scrolling shooter genre and that has you piloting a lone spaceship against hundreds of enemies is at last being put out to pasture with the aptly titled R-Type Final. Shooters with 2D gameplay are few enough these days as it is, with only the recent Ikaruga and the upcoming Gradius V to carry the standard. Now, sadly, we can count the struggling shooter lineup one franchise shorter. But if R-Type must end, at least it's going out on a high note--rest assured that Final lives up to the classic R-Type name in every way.
Humanity has one last chance to blast off and strike the evil Bydo Empire in R-Type Final.
Shooters have never been big on storyline, but at least R-Type bothers to put a name to the waves of enemies: the Bydo Empire. Exactly what the Bydo Empire is has never been clearly established, but in any event, Final casts you as the key player in Operation Last Dance, humanity's last-ditch effort to rid the galaxy of the Bydo for good. You'll power your way through the game's sequence of seven stages (some of which have multiple versions depending on how well you performed during the previous level), and if you can make it through the grueling, nonstop tests of reflex and pinpoint precision, you'll finish the game secure in the knowledge that you sure blew up a whole lot of stuff. Sounds exactly like a shooter, huh?
R-Type Final's mechanics don't differ in a significant way from those of its predecessor, R-Type Delta, or even from those of any of the previous games going all the way back to the original. Your ship starts with two basic attacks: a basic rapid shot and a charge attack that can be powered up to two or three levels, depending on your ship (more on that later). Your first power-up is the force, which is the lynchpin of R-Type's gameplay. The force is a large energy ball that attaches to the front or rear of your ship, and it has three main functions. First, it absorbs enemy attacks, which protects your fragile vessel and charges up your superweapon; second, it can be upgraded with red, blue, and yellow power-ups to enable greater firepower of different varieties; and third, it can be launched directly into the fray to attack enemies on its own. If this arsenal isn't big enough already, you can also gain missile power-ups and two "bit" peripheral weapons that hover near your ship and fire extra shots on their own.
Take this weapons loadout, multiply it by 100, and that's what you've got to work with in R-Type Final. The last game, Delta, gave you a paltry three ships to play with, but Irem has gone way, way further this time around with literally 100 ships that you can unlock. Each ship isn't completely unique; they all mix and match various force types, charge weapons, power-up weapons, missiles, and bit types. Still, their sum behaviors are all different enough that your choice of ship makes a large strategic impact on the gameplay. One force seeks out enemies when you launch it, while another is equipped with tentacles that create some interesting power-up weapon capabilities. Instead of heat-seeking missiles, you can gain depth charges. The charge weapons range from an area-of-effect spherical blast to a bizarre battering-ram sort of melee weapon.
There's a lot of meat in R-Type Final, even after you've finished the main game.