Commodore User


Author: Tony Dillon
Publisher: Electric Dreams
Machine: Commodore 64/128

Published in Commodore User #65


R-Type is probably one of the greatest, if not the greatest shoot-'em-ups to herald the arcades. Unfortunately, it's also a fairly average C64 shoot-'em-up, a weak conversion which contains one of the sloppiest loading systems ever devised.

All you need to know is that you are the pilot of a class R-9 type airborne fight locked in mortal combat with the evil forces of the oppressive dictator, Bydo. The practical upshot of all this is that you get to fly, left to right, across the eight progressive levels of knuckle-hard, finger-prodding action. It's not the hordes of aliens that make it hard. It's not the high number of bullets in the air at once that causes the difficulty. It's the damn unplayability.

Your ship, which by the way is small and blocky, moves very slowly across the screen, and everything else has a tendency to move faster.


Graphically, the coin-op is all there, Activision have successfully managed to capture the look of the graphics, from the cold, metallic backdrops of the first level, to the murkiness of level two. There are one or two small discrepancies, however. One of the best things in level one was an incomplete hoop, that span round firing inwards. You have to get through the opening, wait until the opening has moved round in front of you, and then get out again. This has been converted to a series of guns arranged in a circle. The don't move or anything, they just fire, presenting no challenge at all.

The most important thing about R-Type is the fact that it's a progressive shoot-'em-up. As you fly along, you come across a particular breed of aliens renowned for having strange digestive systems, which means, when they pass anything, it comes out as peculiar lumps of metal that, when attached to your ship, give you things like extra weapons. The first one you get is a natty number by the name of The Force. This is a little ball that attaches to the front or rear of your ship and acts like an indestructible shield. It can also be fired off, to be used to clear particular dense areas. Amongst an impressive armoury, you have a beam weapon at your disposal. Hold down the fire button and release it to let loose a powerful energy bolt that flies through everything. Just how much damage it's capable of doing depends on how long you hold down the fire button.

As I've said, it has a particularly bad loading system. If you are a cassette-based user with no patience, think very carefully about buying this game. Not only does it suffer all the usual indignities of multi-load, it also has a nasty habit of loading in the first level at the start of each game, regardless of how far you got in your last game. Even if you didn't get off the first level last time, you still have to reload. It's also bugged - it's possible to let the first end of level alien fly right through you.

Not the most satisfying of conversions, especially when compared to something like IQ or Katakis. It's addictive though, it'll keep you coming back for a while, particularly if you're a disk user, but the multi-load won't. Could have been much better, which is very annoying.

Tony Dillon

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