Setting the benchmark

R-Type 1 logo

EVERY court case has two winners - the solicitors. R-type is the result of another case where the losers won. Factor 5, a German software house wrote a scrolling shoot 'em up called Katakis. Katakis looked too much like R-Type, a licence Activision guarded with zeal, as you would if you had paid Irem, the Japanese originators, lots and lots of Yen. US Gold had Katakis modified to look less like R-Type and called the result Denaris. So Factor 5 wrote two games which looked pretty similar. But the best was yet to come. Katakis was such a good R-Type rip-off that the Germans were chosen to produce the official version.

They have done a brilliant job. Purely in the interests of research I visited an arcade to check out the original. I used not to be very good at R-Type, but after three days intensive practice on the Amiga version I sailed though the first two levels of the arcade version. Friends in the arcade were well impressed. This reveals two things about the conversion. First, the timing and feel are spot on. Second, the Amiga version is much harder than the coin-op with standard settings.

Increased difficulty is no bad thing. At 20p a go there is a strong disincentive to practice. If you have shield out 100 times the amount and then all the games are free, you will play until your fire button finger is sore. Then you will play some more.

The programmers clearly know and love the Amiga. The game oozes slickness. Graphics are not quite up to the money-munching original but they are pretty close. Speed does not seem to be affected by swarms of encroaching aliens, the massive end-of-level guardians nor your unleashing megatonnes of death by building up loads of weapons. Pick up a shield, ripple lasers, side firing lasers, seeking missile and some side shields and no enemy poses a real threat. But if your finger slips on the sweaty trigger and you lose a life at a crucial moment, it is still playable.

Dedicated gamers will argue that if you lose extra weapons early you might as well give up and go back to the start. This takes some patience because you have six credits and the temptation is to use them regardless of tactics.

A well-programmed conversion of one of the best games in the arcades is the most you can hope for. The music does not grate, neither is it great, but the result is spot on.

Denaris may be a better game for its deviation from the original, but R-Type is the benchmark by which other games of this ilk must be judged.

R-Type 1 logo

Price: £24.95

Isn't the software industry backward? You take the hottest home computer in the UK (PC Engine and 386 PC excluded), capable of beating the competitors hands down, and what happens? It takes months for software to appear on it. Take the case of R-Type. All these poor Amiga owners are sat about looking lost when the 64 owners are saying how bad R-Type is, and ST owners are sat about saying how bad R-Type is. Mr Commodore Amiga is sat there saying how he wishes R-Type would come out on the Amiga so he could say how bad it was...

Now, months later, it has appeared and Mr Amiga can run out into the streets saying how good Amiga R-Type is, but nobody wants to listen. R-Type is old news. Everybody is talking about the Pamella Bordes licence now, and consequently he loses all his friends and starts listening to heavy metal, because he is no longer fit to join society.

This might seem a little drastic, but it does happen. All I did was tell one Brinks-Mat joke two years after it happened and now look at me. The more astute of you might have noticed the little slip in the first paragraph. For those of you who missed it, what I said was, Amiga R-Type is good. In fact, it is better than good. It is approaching arcade perfect.

Do I have to bore you stupid with the plot? Let me put it this way. You are a spaceship with a variable weaponry. You can fire bullets of all sizes. The longer you hold down the fire button, the bigger the bullet. You get lots of other things on screen when you play. These can be divided into four categories. Background - to be avoided. Collision with this results in a little explosion and you die horribly in a ball of flame. Not surprisingly, this results in a loss of a life. Bullets - see background. Other sprites - the proper gameplaying term of these is 'enemy'. These have to be shot. End of level alien - these are very big and require a lot of hits. Destroy this and you go onto the next level. Kill the one on the eight level, and you have finished the game. (Game description © N. Taylor School of Computer Games Mastering).

Probably the best thing about R-Type is the feel. The smooth scrolling, combined with the pixel-perfect collision detection and with the speed of the game, make it fun to play. In fact, the feel is more or less identical to the arcade, as are both the graphics and the sound.

The backgrounds are a little flat, but only veterans of the coin-op will notice difference in gameplay.

The sprites are large, detailed and ported almost directly from the coin op. A still shot of the game makes it look the same as the ST version, but it is the fluid movement and the absence of flicker that gives it a real arcade look.

The intro tune is great (even better in stereo) and all the tunes and FX from the coin-op have been copied perfectly, through a strange rattling noise occurs whenever you hold down the beam weapon at maximum.

R-Type was worth the wait, says Dillon's little verdictometer. It is just a shame it did not appear when 64 owners were mourning the loss of their ten quid. Still better late than never.

Strap on your pods and blast yer beams in this great conversion

R-Type 1 logo Zzap! Sizzler

Electric Dreams/Mediagenic, Amiga £24.99

In the early 21st century, the people of Earth realised that they must preserve their planet. For many decades, they have been keeping the atmosphere clean, conserving fuels and maintaining a healthy environment. Unfortunately, when such a healthy planet exists, alien forces become jealous...

The people of the distant plant of Bydo are such a race: they haven't been so careful to preserve their world. Their planet is dying and they're looking to invade the Earth and claim it for themselves, destroying the human race in the process. A message has been intercepted that tells of strange robots, spaceships and bio-mechanoid creatures being built to stamp out the humans and leave the way clear for an invasion.

Defence forces were collected to try and counter these machines, so the engineers of Earth began a programme to put a stop to the Bydonian plan. Thus the R-Type fighter was born. Various models were made until version nine was considered the perfect attack craft, due to a revolutionary new weapon system.

It was discovered that certain Bydonian robots were powered by crystals that could be used to generate holographic images capable of releasing powerful energy bursts. The engineers built the patented holo-cell weapon - a pod that could be added to the front or rear of an R-type fighter. The standard model R9 was fitted with a pulse laser, mega-beam laser and a holo-cell converter. The crystals needed could be collected by shooting hovering robots; they then converted the pods to weapons such as reflection lasers, ground lasers and homing missiles (see R9 weapons box).

To win you must fly the R9 into the heart of Bydo and destroy all the guardian creatures: strange beings such as huge Giger-esque semi-mechanical creatures, tree stumps concealing huge metallic snakes and gigantic space cruisers. Destroying these mega-beings will negate the Bydonian invasion plans, giving the people of Earth some breathing room, not to mention warning them to keep an eye of the activities of the planet Bydo on future...

Kati Hamza Remember the Amiga Update box in last month's review of the 64 R-Type? We were hoping for 'arcade quality graphics and gameplay', and we've got 'em! Electric Dreams have done an absolutely brilliant job converting this game to the Amiga, from the graphics and sound to all the little presentation details - including the continue play option (what a relief it is not to have to scrabble around in my pockets for a couple more 10ps when the message appears!). The game's still multiload, but you hardly notice since it's done so well; and that 'certain other shoot 'em up' that caused all the fuss doesn't really have the punch to keep up with the 'official' game - on the Amiga, at any rate. This falls into the category 'first class coin-op conversion', and there's no excuse to miss it.
Maff Evans Last month I said that the 64 version of R-Type wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be, but after seeing the ST version I had high hopes for the Amiga. I must say that I'm not disappointed - the Amiga conversion is brilliant! It gets off to a good start with the amazing loading music backed by a great picture, and then drops into the metallic letter-spreading intro sequence - just like the coin-op... except that the coin-op hasn't got a title picture! The graphics are arcade quality, with smooth sprites and no flicker (the PC Engine version has quite a bit of flicker - in fact I'd go as far as to say that I think the Amiga version is better than the PC Engine version!) Anyone in possession of an Amiga who likes the R-Type coin-op should buy this as soon as possible.
R-Type 1: Simple drawing R-Type Fighter Model
R-Type 1: Drawing Reflection Laser Reflection Laser
R-Type 1: Drawing Anti-Aircraft Laser Anti-Aircraft Laser
R-Type 1: Drawing Ground Laser Ground Laser
R-Type 1: Drawing Homing Missiles Homing Missiles
R-Type 1: Drawing Extra Speed Extra Speed
R-Type 1: Drawing Shield Orbs Shield Orbs