Developer: DotEmu
Price: $1.99
Version Reviewed: 1.0
Device Reviewed On: iPhone 3G, iPad

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★☆
Game Controls Rating: ★★★★½
Gameplay Rating: ★★★★☆
Replay Value Rating: ★★★½☆

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

When R-Type was first announced for the iPhone, I initially felt some skepticism as to how good the port could be: R-Type is notorious for its difficulty, and shmups (shoot ‘em ups) need the kind of precision control that the iPhone sometimes struggles to provide. EA partnered with DotEmu for this port of Irem’s classic, and I am proud to say that my skepticism has been invalidated by the work done here to make this game play as well as it possibly could on iOS.

R-Type is a known for two things: being heavily reliant on set enemy patterns and for being insanely difficult. Your only tools to fight the Giger-esque alien hordes are your ship and detachable shield satellite powerups given to you, so it’s all about your reflexes and memorization of enemy patterns to try and get you through the game’s 8 levels. Good luck with that.

Luck is on your side, though, as the controls of R-Type are great. The best option is the offset touchscreen controls, which give you buttons for firing and deploying your satellite, and let you move your ship by dragging around anywhere on the left side of the screen with a 1:1 movement offset. There are also surprisingly accurate tilt controls and a Coin-Op control scheme featuring an on-screen d-pad and a screen with an angled effect, like playing an arcade machine. All the controls work remarkably well to the point where I felt more like dying was the fault of the game being impossibly hard, rather than any control issues. And while the game is hard, there is an Unlimited mode that gives you infinite lives to play with, so completing the game is merely a matter of will. The game also saves your exact position upon exit, making it incredibly convenient to play on the go.

Of course, R-Type is still a paragon of Japanese shmup design – it’s full of enemy patterns that you have to learn and it will frustrate you until it turns you into a screaming and crying wreck. And I’m just talking about Unlimited mode – the limited lives given to you in Normal mode will likely prevent anything but the most skilled of players from getting past the first couple of levels, and there’s somehow an Insane difficulty available, which is difficult to even comprehend. The biggest complaint about R-Type is that it runs sluggishly on the iPhone 3G, for it is an emulation of an old game; on more powerful devices it runs without complaint.

The best compliment you can give a game like R-Type is that it is accurate to its roots – DotEmu’s port is nothing if not wonderfully done, as it lets the original game shine through without any question about the quality of the port. R-Type is still an insanely difficult shmup that is best consumed by those well-versed in the genre or looking to experience a classic entry in it, but those looking to experience this monument to old-school gaming will find a fantastic port awaits them.

Posted in: Games, iPhone Apps and Games, Reviews

Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,