Game: R-Type Final 2
Genre: Action, Arcade
System: Nintendo Switch (also on Steam, Xbox and PS4)
Developer|Publisher: Granzella | NIS America
Age Rating: EU 7+ | US Everyone
Price: US $39.99 | UK £35.99 | EU € 39,99
Release Date: April 30th, 2021
Review code provided with many thanks to NIS America
Not So Final
The R-Type series is a beloved space shooter that was most known for its snake alien-looking boss, that you see on many of the old game covers known as Dobkeratops. A name that sounds like an awesome dinosaur. I didn’t play a lot of R -Type when I was younger since I was more of a Thunder Force kid on the good old Mega Drive.
But later on down the road, I got to appreciate some of the highlights of the series. R-Type Final was released on the PS2 in 2003 and was originally thought to be the last main game in the series. But time can’t keep a good thing down right? The R-Type series decided to take some inspiration from the Final Fantasy series by starting what might be a long line of sequels with ‘Final’ in the title making the definition of the term feel a little redundant. But is there, over 15 years apart from its last main release, still room for the R-Type series? Let’s find out.
Bydo They’re Back
If you’re new to the R-Type series the plot is a pretty standard affair. There are these bad fellas known as the Bydo, which are spreading their corruption all over the universe (again) so it’s time to hop in your R- Type fighter and shoot your way to victory. When you begin the game you witness a small cutscene section with multiple-choice dialogue options. It’s a brief opportunity for the game to show off its graphical flair but it feels unnecessary. This is R-Type not Mass Effect and it’s likely you’re here for some epic space shooter action. But don’t worry, this game has plenty of that.
R-Type Final 2 is a 2D side-scrolling space shooter. Simply play through levels filled with flying enemies and hazards and take the big boss character out at the end, repeat until you win. The game starts off at a good manageable pace but as you progress through the levels the difficulty does begin to quickly ramp up. You have your usual laser-like pew-pew weapon to shoot at the hordes of oncoming enemies, but you also have a fair few nifty moves at your disposal.
For starters, you have a large orb-like weapon that you can shoot out like a battering ram and will damage anything it touches. It can also absorb bullets and shoot out its own shots at different angles. You can then reattach the orb to the front or the back of the ship to increase front-facing firepower for the former or provide useful reverse fire on sneaky enemies for the latter. You can also adjust your ship’s speed to help navigate through tricky areas or avoid enemy fire. There’s also a beam weapon you can charge to release a devastating blow at the expense of a time delay.
Lastly, you have a special weapon you can use after charging up after a substantial period of time that I like to call the ‘last resort’ weapon as it essentially wipes out everything on the screen at once. Many of these moves will be very familiar to fans of the series. The controls are responsive but it can take a bit of time for newbies to familiarize themselves with all the moves. Since the game is kinda retro it also doesn’t teach you these moves in any form of a tutorial, so be sure to experiment or check out the options menu.
All this stuff is just the basics as almost every weapon, orb and even ships cosmetics can be customized. Much like the first R-Type Final, there’s a ludicrous amount of ships to unlock in this game. You truly are quite spoiled for choice once you start unlocking them. If you are a fan of the series you will certainly appreciate all the past nods to older titles.
A large niggle I had is that it’s very hard to determine what each new ship’s weapons and abilities are like without taking them into the main game. It can take a very long time to determine which ship is the right fit for your play style. It feels like the game could really have used a handy preview options which shows you in a small window what each ship is capable of rather than just looking at the listed abilities which will probably mean very little to most gamers until you memorize them.
Good Looking Ships
Graphically the R-Type spaceship looks darn gorgeous. This is one of the most detailed space shooters I think I have ever played. The developers have made full use of the new hardware and the combination of robotic and biological environments and enemies feels quite stunning at times. Not that you will have much time to stop and appreciate it as you’ll spend most of your time in the game avoiding all sorts of bullet hell and flying enemies coming to take your lives. The music and sound effects also do a grand job of keeping you immersed in the action.
Prepare to Crash
R-Type Final 2 is not an easy space shooter. This is a trial by fire, learn the patterns and get ready for some truly horrible GOTCHA moments. One hit on your ship and you die, restarting back to the nearest checkpoint. Depending on your level of difficulty you may have some continues to carry on as well. But once all lives and continues are exhausted it’s back to the start to try all over again. This really is not a space shooter I would recommend to newbies or folks looking for a stress-free experience. There were moments in this game where I even knew what to expect and some sod of an enemy crept up on me making me almost want to throw my Switch out the window.
Initially, my experience of R-Type Final 2 was just ok. But as I kept pressing, learning the patterns and remembering those surprise enemies from the corners of the screen I did find myself becoming quite fond of it. Its unapologetic retro design did begin to rub off. Every mistake felt like a lesson and even after failing again and again I still felt quite compelled to try the game again even if it meant restarting from the beginning. This design is something quite rarely seen in games today and it works here provided you accept the difficult journey ahead.
Plenty to Unlock
There’s plenty to keep you busy in R-Type Final 2. As mentioned there are lots of ships to unlock. If you like your cosmetics you can customize the look of every individual ship adding colour and stickers to your heart’s content. There’s also a museum section where you can view the ships in all their high rendered detail. You can also customize your pilot, read up on the enemies, look at the artwork and set the artwork to the title or loading screening which was pretty neat. There were sessions where I simply just messed around with the extras forgetting this was a space shooter.
With its arcade feel the game is just incredibly replayable. I see myself picking this up and having a bash most mornings on a day when I just want to play a good space shooter. A small niggle I have is the game gates a lot of content off to Kickstarter backers which seems a little unfair to people that did not choose to support this. I’m not against this being something in the game but it would be better not to make it clear what some folk missed out on. The game also has a season pass and DLC to unlock new levels but not all of this content is available at launch. The developers have even mentioned that future patching is likely to come depending on player feedback. So if you do find the game too hard or easy, maybe let them know.
Conclusion: The Final Frontier?
If you are a fan of your space shooters R-Type Final 2 is well worth picking up. But be warned its unforgiving and wave-like difficulty curves will not work for everyone. If you’re on the fence about it, there is a free demo on the e-store I highly recommend trying it first. Once I got over the initial steep learning curve I grew quite fond of this nifty space shooter.
R-Type Final 2 reminds us that things may have been difficult back in the day for gaming. But that formula still works and will hold up for its fans today. See you next time for R-Type Final 3 maybe?
Final Verdict: I Like it a lot