I’ve always been drawn to games that make me mad. It started with Punch-Out!! and evolved through the years into games like God Hand and Dark Souls. The feeling of achieving victory after countless failures is the pinnacle of gaming to me.
If I’m determined enough, very few things make me rage quit. Among them, however, are R-Type and R-Type II. R-Type Dimensions combines these games into one fury-inducing package, and I loved almost every minute I spent with it.
R-Type Dimensions (PS3 [reviewed], Xbox 360)
Developer: Irem, Tozai Games
Publisher: Tozai Games
Released: May 20, 2014
R-Type Dimensions is a bundle of the first two (and best) R-Type games with optional updated art and music. It was originally released for Xbox 360 in 2009, and has now made its way to the PS3.
If you are unfamiliar with the series, the R-Type games look like classic Gradius-style 2D shooters, but in reality they are much closer to bullet-hells, and make the player focus on flying their ship through obstacles and around enemies rather than just shooting. Levels are only a few minutes long, but feature different gimmicks like space waterfalls that push you around, giant mechanical dragons constantly creating and destroying barriers, and many more. The real challenge comes from the bosses, which often have you dodging plenty of obstacles while trying to focus on a tiny exposed weak spot.
This version presents you with two options when picking a game. The first is “Classic Mode,” or the way R-Type was “meant” to be played. In this mode you only have three lives, and if you die even once you are sent back to a checkpoint, and upon dying three times you get a game over. There are things to make it easier, like using L2 to go into slow-mo mode and react to new on-screen threats faster, or a level select so you can replay levels to make your run easier. Still, with the amount of enemies on the screen suddenly appearing, it will take a lot of patience and memorization to beat either of the games on this mode.
Luckily if you just want to see the game through no matter what, there’s Infinite Mode. Instead of starting with three lives, your counter starts at zero and it counts upward for each time you die. This is great for those of you who want to see the gripping story all the way through, but it also lets players be more lax with their lives. By the end of my second run-through of R-Type II, I gave up and had died 23 times on the last level alone before beating it. I wish that there was a mode in-between these two, since Classic seems borderline impossible and Infinite seems far too easy.
The original games are there, kept intact including even bad translations like “The Bydo empire which has attempting to expand its territory over the galaxy has collapsed here.” There is a leaderboard for each game and each mode to compare both your level and overall scores with your friends. They have also added couch co-op, which can make killing enemies a lot easier, but also a lot more chaotic and fun.
The games still look great and the sound effects are some of the best of the genre. Dimensions features updated graphics and audio. You can select options like updated graphics, screen stretching and “crazy” camera (a camera that will often tilt the screen to one side, making it harder to judge your relative position) before you start the game, but one of the neatest features of Dimensions is the fact that you can seamlessly toggle back and forth between the original art and music and the updated versions with a button press. This lets you experience, say, the new music and art on one of the bosses if you'd rather play the rest of the level on the classic settings.
While I prefer the original music, the newer music is decent. However I wasn’t impressed by the new art at all, and think that the classic art is far superior. The fact that this art exists doesn’t detract from the original games at all, so you can still play the core games. For $10 this is a great value, as you get two great games with enough features that are either good additions, or completely optional.
If you have any fondness for the series, or if you're just looking for a solid side-scrolling shooter that's about as hard as can be, R-Type Dimensions faithfully re-creates the original experience and before long you'll be wondering why you did this to yourself.