Giant Bomb Review

40 Comments

R-Type Dimensions Review

4
  • XBGS

Extravagant production and abusive arcade shooting action combine to nice effect in this Live Arcade remake.

We need more level-spanning multi-part bosses in the world today.
Those of you who spent a lot of time and quarters in 1980s arcades will probably remember R-Type, Irem's side-scrolling shooter notable for its anatomically suggestive enemies and teeth-gritting difficulty. The original R-Type and its first sequel, R-Type II, are back in a new $15 Xbox Live Arcade package called R-Type Dimensions that brings along some nice updates like pretty, high-def 3D graphics and simultaneous cooperative play. That painfully maddening degree of challenge hasn't gone anywhere, though.

Let's be honest here: R-Type, in its original arcade form, is not made for normal people. It's not the kind of fast-paced action game where dynamic reflexes and deft on-the-fly strategy will save your ship from the nonstop hail of enemies, bullets, and lasers. You can't maneuver your way out of tight spots, because if you're in the wrong place at the wrong time, you are dead, simple as that. You just aren't fast enough to dodge or outrun the obstacles in a lot of cases, and every death is a relatively major setback. It's the kind of unreasonable difficulty that will frequently make you want to hurl controllers across the room--and since most controllers these days don't come on cords, it could get dangerous and costly to satisfy that urge.

Getting good at R-Type is mostly a matter of memorization, playing and dying and replaying until you know exactly where the enemies are going to come from and what weapon you should be using in any given section of each level. It's kind of like beating your head against a brick wall until you finally break through it. That kind of game design may have filled plenty of developers' coffers with quarters back in the '80s, but unless you're a real stalwart fan of this genre, it doesn't play as well today when you've already spent your money on Xbox Live and you just want to sit down and enjoy the game.

Good thing Dimensions' developers realized that R-Type's original gameplay style--called classic mode in this compilation--was going to turn off a large part of the potential audience, so they came up with a much more forgiving alternative, infinite mode. Classic works on a checkpoint system, so when you die, the game drops you back at the last one you hit with no power-ups. If classic had been the only mode in Dimensions, I probably never would have finished either game. It's just that demanding.

R-Type has gotten a great visual update in Dimensions.
Infinite mode gives you a kinder, gentler R-Type that respawns you immediately when you die, with no break in the action. (Ironically, just like a lot of other shooters did in the first place.) This certainly makes the two games shorter; you could probably play through both of them in about an hour, while I spent more than that just trying to learn and get through the fourth stage of R-Type alone on classic. But it's great that both varieties of gameplay are in here, playing to different skill levels and tastes.

There's a startling number of big and small additions to round out this package. The most obvious is the full 3D facelift Tozai applied to both games. It faithfully reproduces the art style of the originals while layering in the expected level of eye-popping effects, pretty glowing light sources, and so on. The best part is you can toggle between the old 2D and the new 3D instantly at the touch of a button, which is great for the sake of comparison.

But that's just the beginning of the visual updates. You can also play the game in a tiny thumbnail embedded in an in-game arcade cabinet, or you can have the 3D mode offset its camera angle so you're sort of looking down the long hallway of a given level. Those features are fun novelties that eventually seem pointless if you're trying to play the game skillfully. Lastly, there are some fun graphics filters for those of us with a nostalgic bent, allowing you to drop the resolution and color depth in various ways to slap a more pixellated, color-banded look on the new 3D graphics. They really went above and beyond on the graphics front.

Tozai also added two-player simultaneous play for the first time, which is another way to make the ludicrous difficulty a little more manageable. You can play co-op on Xbox Live, but the second player slogged through an unfortunate degree of lag in all the games I tested. In a game that requires split-second timing, any degree of lag can often be too much, so you'd likely be better off playing two-player on the same console for the proper experience.

Don't even ask.
Even the Xbox-specific stuff in here is handled well, with achievements that reward you for skill-based tasks (beat the first level using only the charged beam shot) as well as ones that you'll get simply by grinding through the game multiple times (collect 500 power-ups, kill 30,000 enemies). This game is also like The Maw in its exemplary handling of the profile-level goodies that you can unlock in some Live Arcade games. In this case, there are two gamer pictures up for grabs, and you'll be notified in the relevant levels where you can get them. You can even go back to the main menu later and download them again if you delete them for some reason. This surely sounds like small, small potatoes, but most games don't even notify when you've opened up a new gamer picture, much less give you the chance to install it again in the event of storage disaster.

Side-scrolling shooters have been on the endangered genres list for years and years now, but somehow they keep limping along with just enough major releases to prevent extinction. Downloadable platforms like Live Arcade have created a great platform for developers to release shooters with minimal investment, and Tozai has capitalized on that here with R-Type Dimensions, a feature-rich shooter that can appeal to people with either a passing or a serious interest in the genre. Brad Shoemaker on Google+
40 Comments
Posted by MrMiyagi

I don't know. It just seems a little bit pricey.

Posted by JJOR64

I might get it.  Not to sure yet with that $15 price tag.

Posted by John

Yeah the pricetag really put me off, it might be worth it, but gta dlc is right around the corner.

Posted by PowerSerj

Good review. Having never played an R-Type game myself, I'd probably have given this release a try if I had a 360.

Posted by Jared

I  might get this, but not till it drops to $10 or less.

Posted by GHT

I could never beat that stupid third level.

Posted by Diamond

This game is super excellent, but for the amount most people will play it I guess $15 is a little steep.

Lots of people buy games and DLC with far less value though.

Posted by RHCPfan24

This looks really cool, just expenisive.

Posted by Kohe321

Good review, might get this!

Posted by roushimsx

10+ hours in and I'm still loving the hell out of R Type. I don't care for R Type II at all really...its only real redeeming factor before was its graphics, but with that taken out of the equation then it becomes more painfully obvious how much weaker designed it is than the first game.

Hopefully it sells well enough to warrant interest in porting III and Delta to the service, but I'm not holding my breath. Hell, I'm still not able to beat the boss on the fifth stage of Classic.... grabbing a second speed power up may help, but it'd only punish me on the 6th stage...hmmm.... I'll need it anyway for the 8th stage boss and the 7th stage is easy-peasy with the lasers....

If only I could find someone to locally co-op through Classic with. Not sure if I could handle playing with the online lag :(

Posted by AndrewB

I guess I'll echo what everyone else is saying, since I feel the same. The game seems pretty cool, but it's just R-type, and hardly worth the asking price, in my opinion. At 800 points, it would be a deal.

Posted by roushimsx

Except it's not just R Type, it's two R Type games in one package. Not that I'd complain if they had split them into two 800pt releases, because then it would have saved me a bit of cash as I completely passed on the second game.

Posted by agentboolen

I just dont get it. A game like this would probably get bought more times at $10 then at the steep $15 price tag making for the company that brought it out to earn more money and having there game appreciated by more gamers.  Just seems stupid, someone just doens't get what gamers are willing to spend.  Make money through quantity not through over pricing.

Posted by Johanz

But 15 bucks isn't alot of money, hell, it's super cheap. Here in Sweden, most XBLA games cost around 15 dollars because that's what 800 points cost, roughly, with the conversion rate and all. And really, 5 bucks is nothing! If you want to support these kinds of games, and want more of it, do buy it. Even if you don't play it that much or didn't like it, you know that other did and your money went to a good cause. :) We need more schmups!

Posted by Captain_Fookup

I'll get it eventually but I gotta pay bills and shit.

Posted by strangeling

I don't recall ever playing an R-Type game.  I do need to find a copy of R-Type Final to complete my "Fresh Games" collection though.

Posted by oobs
Posted by Bonuslevel

Can we save progress in classic mode??

Posted by roushimsx

Yea, you can start on and / or practice any level that you'd previously gotten to in either classic or infinite.

Posted by iAmJohn

When did $15 become too much for two fully remade games with brand spanking new graphics and other new features?  I swear, you people are spoiled.

Posted by quiller9

"steep $15 price tag"????? .

R-Type is an absolute classic and, judging by this board, seems to be getting bogged down by the same issue that plagued Braid. Namely that it is expensive.  This is absolute nonsense.  For $15 you can play a game that is more challenging than most full price retail releases, and in many cases a lot better. Personally I blame piracy for this, it really annoys me to come and read this kind of bollocks from people who probably don't even purchase their games.

Q9

Posted by Redfield

Dude, it's 15 bucks... I want it, but it should be 800 points...

Posted by dogchunx

It's expensive and I've played R-Type on a million other platforms. Hopefully enough people will vote with their cash and they'll drop the price to something more reasonable.

Posted by Zerodash

Maybe we will get lucky and R-Type Delta will get an update.  Delta > every other R-Type.

Posted by Media_Master

should be $10

otherwise

yes

Edited by Cubical

All xbox live updates of old games should be done this way. The maker must  have loved R-type it shows.

Posted by Driadon

I will wait to see if it drops down the the 800 point standard. Either way, looks awesome.

Posted by racastro

True. We need more multi-part bosses this days.

Edited by ahoodedfigure

That spaceship blew my mind when I saw it in the arcade, and was probably my favorite stage in the home version I had.  I liked blowing that thing apart bit by bit.

Good old R-Type.

Posted by darianw

Awesome. I bought this the day it was released. A great remake of some of the best old school punishing side scrolling shooters.

Posted by Artie

Why is the front page 2 stars, but the review is 4 stars?

Posted by CrazyNinja

I'm getting the same thing as Artie, the front page shows 2 stars instead of the 4 the game got.

Posted by 1_879_116_9420

Yeah, but if you read the review you can tell that the two star score was a glitch.

Posted by Slumberpunch

Great review.

I'm really enjoying this one, but it's insanely difficult.  Without the infinite mode I'm pretty sure I could play this forever and never beat it.

Posted by mossman93

4/5 = 8/10 = ( R-Type > Killzone 2) = disservice to game buyers.

Posted by Mann_uk

Remember this is two games in one, so the price isn't to bad. This was the first game i played so i will be buying it for sure this weekend.

Posted by zymase

I love R-Type and will get this eventually, but my video game spending is on hiatus thanks to having pre-ordered Resident Evil 5.

Posted by Lind_L_Taylor

I'd prefer the game at $10 as well. I don't think I would play it enough to justify $15 seeing as how the larger, blockbuster games consume most of my gaming entertainment time.

I tried the demo for R-type, man it's the shortest demo I've ever played in an XBL game.

Posted by MayorMcCheese

It looks a lot like Aegis Wing but for 15$ more.

Posted by bshirk

Dammit, can't beat these games on regular mode.  I got to the end of level 6 in R-Type and the end of level 5 in R-Type II, but the game is so damn unforgiving.  I can't say you didn't warn us but damn, this game makes Mega Man 2 look like cake.