Review: R-Type Dimensions

R-Type has been heralded as a classic shooter. Simple and straight-to-the-point, it’s a quintessential favorite of both old and new gamers. R-Type Dimensions, available via Xbox Live Arcade, takes the original formula and gives it a striking new update. Is it faithful to the original or does it tarnish the good name of the series?

For a game that’s always been known for its frustrating difficulty, R-Type Dimensions is a blast to play. Offering both R-Type and R-Type II to wade through, this is a lovingly crafted rehash of the original games. Every facet of the game has been seamlessly integrated into both a 2D and 3D spectacle to behold. You can even view the differences at any time by pressing the Y button.  Other than this unique addition, these R-Type reworkings are the exact same ones you may remember from back in the heyday of the arcades.

If you’re not familiar with R-Type, it’s a schmup that varies from being cautiously simple at times to break-your-controller hard. You’re the pilot of your average, everyday spaceship (very generic), whittling away at the Bydo alien threat that encroaches upon the Earth. At one moment you’ll be blasting away at the treacherous Bydo (the enemies) and feeling like a million bucks. And another? You will find yourself surrounded by hordes of enemies with a safe haven to shoot from nowhere to be found. Perhaps one of the biggest reasons R-Type was so big in its original release timeframe was its frustrating difficulty and its ability to reduce even the most skilled gamer to angry utterances and sweaty hands.

The source of this difficulty can be attributed to the level design, which features strange, puzzle-like alcoves in certain areas along with strategic requirements that would have you searching for vulnerable points on a boss or even a regular enemy rather than shooting straight on until you get hit and lose a life. Still, gameplay is addicting and smooth. Regular fire is mapped to the right shoulder button, and you can use charge shots with the A button for an extra bit of power. At the end of the day, R-Type is just your average schmup, but it has been recreated so faithfully that this rendition is the definitive one.

Although you have the exact same setup as the classics, this isn’t the R-Type you remember, at least, not exactly. The graphics have been masterfully updated a bit to include 3D (hence the Dimensions subtitle), and the two versions of the same game work incredibly well together. Interesting and varied enemy designs transport you right back to right back to the 80s when quarters emptied out of your pockets faster than money out of Paris Hilton’s bank account. As for the music, R-Type returns with its deceptively innocent, beautiful title music and menacing battle tunes. Seriously – you could take the title music and devise some kind of crafty lullaby.

All in all, this is a faithful recreation of the beloved original R-Type and R-Type II that you may look back so fondly upon. Graphics are smooth, refined, and solid, and the controls feel like a dream. You’ll be wishing that every classic schmup was given the same treatment. If you can fight past the nightmarish difficulty, then this is a true gem that any fan of retro games will enjoy.

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