The Quick & Dirty: I enjoyed this retro-remake!
For those of you who don't know what R-Type is, it is a classic 2D side-scrolling shooter from yesteryear. Back when "arcades" consisted of hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of the most advanced gaming technology, R-Type stood proudly in its cabinet gobbling up quarters. I, unfortunately, was born 2 years too late to really relish this "arcade" thing we speak of, so it was my great pleasure to play R-Type for the first time. What I've learned is that (a.) games do not need 3D graphics and internet connectivity to be fun and (b.) retro game IP that is brought kicking and screaming onto the XBLA is an incredible opportunity for those of us too young to remember the arcade glory days to enjoy the pioneers that started our industry. Too bad for you this review isn't about arcades...
R-Type Dimensions is actually a combo game of R-Type I & II wrapped up in a new shell of XBLA shine.
The games graphics are the usual polished 720p HD that we've come to expect, but Tozai Games took it a bit farther and added a bit of 3D trickery to the visuals. I honestly don't believe that this helps you succeed in the game at all, but it is fun to change to a pseudo-3D mode once in a while. The alien monsters (the Bydo) that you attack are highly stylized and fun to shoot (if you can stay alive) so I have no criticism here.
Game audio is an odd one for me. On the one hand, I know this is supposed to be "retro" seeing as that's the thing to do these days, but many of the sound effects seemed contrived to me, like they were trying to create campy versions of the original 8-bit sounds. If this was their intention, they nailed it. I can almost imagine the arcades of the 80's pumping 8-bit audio out of tinny speakers while playing this game. On the other hand, I don't really see how the game audio could have been enhanced without loosing the authenticity. Because of this, I'll just say the sounds fit the game and leave it at that. The soundtrack has been cleaned up quite a bit though. The music sounds really crisp to me.
This game is hard. Period. As I pointed out in my Assault Heroes 2 review, I suck at "shmups". R-Type schooled me and showed me that not only do I suck, but I probably would have been laughed out of the arcade when I was a wee lad. I died 37 times trying to beat the first level. 37 times. That is really hard for me to publicly admit, but with therapy, I should be ok. But the way the game is designed, I never felt like I was stuck. I always progressed and I like that about difficult games. There is an alternate mode for real gamers where they limit your lives, but I comfortable with my humility.
I can't really find anything negative about R-Type Dimensions except the price. At 1200 MSP, I felt the pang of bile well up in my throat. However, when I considered that I got both R-Types in one game and I thought about how much god-forsaken money it would have cost me to beat just the first level in the arcade (37 multiplied by $0.25 = $9.25), I was able to hold back my violent projectile-vomit-like distaste of Microsoft's pricing hierarchy. In general, if you liked R-Type when it was in arcades (and SNES you old fart) or you want to try a well done version of a classic, check out this game. If you hate retro-remakes or pass out at the thought of paying $15 for an XBLA game, back away slowly.
Dave "Whet Wetty" Wetty
[Image from Xbox.com]