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R-Type is a side scrolling shoot 'em up best known for its extremely tough and strategic gameplay. You control the R-9 spaceship as it launches a last-ditch effort to repel the evil Bydo empire.

The R-9 comes equipped as standard with a small gun which can only take down the smallest of enemies without firing several shots. By holding down the fire button, it can be loaded up so as to release a large burst of energy, eliminating all but the strongest enemies in its path. From time to time, pods will come flying in your direction. Upon being shot, they release an upgrade. The first one will invariably be the one called "The Force", which is a weapons pod that clings either to the front or the back of your ship, absorbing any enemy bullets or acting as a bumper with which you can fly head-on into them. You can also use it as an offensive weapon by firing it and pulling it back in. Mastering the Force is vital to surviving in R-Type, since it must be used both as protection against bullet clusters, as a remote controlled cannon, and in order to clear the screen from obstacles. Other upgrades give you target-seeking missiles or a bigger main gun. Different gun types, differentiated by their colour, serve different purposes. The blue one sends laser beams bouncing across the screen (good for tunnels), the red one fires straight ahead, and the yellow one follows any walls it may encounter (good for artillery emplacements).

The stages of R-Type are made in an organic style, certainly inspired by H. R. Giger's artwork for the Alien movies. When it came out, it was considered trend-setting since it broke off from the stereotypical sci-fi mould of other shoot'em'ups. In part, the levels themselves are your enemy, which is exemplified by the fourth, where spider-like creatures weave webs that cover the screen and block your path, or levels with intricate tunnel systems. Still, the levels are best handled with a combination of strategy and reflexes, without the memorisation that is required of R-Type's contemporary rival, Gradius.


R-Type Sharp X68000 The entire third stage is a fight with this giant Warship
R-Type Commodore 64 Title screen
R-Type PC-88 Stage 1 - enemies coming at me from air and ground
R-Type iPhone Main title + options.

Alternate Titles

  • "R-Type Complete CD" -- Japanese PC Engine Super CD title

Part of the Following Groups

User Reviews

One of the best arcade conversations for the Speccy ZX Spectrum *Katakis* (37818)
A worthy conversion of a great game, later outclassed by similar titles Amiga Martin Smith (63134)

The Press Says TurboGrafx-16 Oct, 2003 10 out of 10 100
VideoGame SEGA Master System Jun, 1991 5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars 100
Power Play TurboGrafx-16 1989 92 out of 100 92
Computer and Video Games (CVG) SEGA Master System Mar, 1989 87 out of 100 87
Total!! UK Magazine Game Boy Jan, 1992 86 out of 100 86
ACE (Advanced Computer Entertainment) Atari ST Mar, 1989 849 out of 1000 85
The Games Machine (UK) Atari ST Feb, 1989 82 out of 100 82
ACE (Advanced Computer Entertainment) SEGA Master System Apr, 1989 808 out of 1000 81
Pocket Magazine / Pockett Videogames Android Sep 26, 2011 4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars 80
The Games Machine (UK) Commodore 64 Mar, 1989 65 out of 100 65


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1001 Video Games

The Arcade version of R-Type appears in the book 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die by General Editor Tony Mott.

Commodore 64 Port: Development

The C64 version was coded by Manfred Trenz, which is ironic as he was behind the infamous R-Type clone Katakis. This was in fact Electric Dreams' second attempt at a C64 version of the game - the first (coded by David Jolliff and James Smart) was the one featured in a demo given away by Computer and Video Games. This appeared to be shaping up as a good conversion, although a bit slow, but it was taking too long, leading Electric Dreams to replace it with a quicker-to-finish version.

Commodore 64 Port: Limitations

Stage 6, The Transport System, has been dropped completely and every stage after the third one has a very unfinished feel to it.

The final boss (in the stage with the flying green babies) is not finished making it pathetically easy to beat. It fires only one type of energy shot which flies in a horizontal line. The homing balls, energy blobs and flying babies are all missing.

There is no end sequence. The game just ... stops.

PC Engine Releases

The Japanese PC Engine-version of R-Type was released as two separate games, R-Type I and R-Type II, with the former containing the first four stages and the latter the remaining four. This was presumably done because the whole game would not fit on one HuCard. The second of these cards has nothing do to with the real sequel R-Type II which was never released for the PC Engine/TurboGrafx in any way. For the US TurboGrafx release they managed to fit the whole game on one HuCard so there it was simply called R-Type.

The game was later re-released (again only in Japan) as a PC Engine CD game called R-Type Complete CD which contained all of the stages, a new intro movie and improved music.

ZX Spectrum Port

A mastering error on the original release of the ZX Spectrum version meant that level 8 didn't appear on the tape - level 7 was recorded twice, followed by level 9, meaning that players who completed the first 7 levels could get no further.


  • Computer and Video Games
    • Issue 06/1989 - Runner-up Golden Joystick Award 1989 for Best Console Game (reader's vote for the PC Engine/TurboGrafx version)
    • Issue 06/1989 - Runner-up Golden Joystick Award 1989 for Best 8-Bit Coin-op conversion (reader's vote)
  • Power Play
    • Issue 01/1990 - #2 Best Master System Game in 1989
  • Retro Gamer
    • October 2004 (Issue #9) – #32 Best Game Of All Time (Readers' Vote)
  • ST Format
    • Issue 01/1991 - #3 Best Atari ST shoot-'em-up in 1990
    • January 1993 (issue #42) - #14 in '50 finest Atari ST games of all time' list
Information also contributed by Koos King and majutsushi.

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Contributed to by EboMike (3009), Picard (29341), Trypticon (8166), Quapil (4741), Corn Popper (69780), Mister-k81 (408), GTramp (35639), PCGamer77 (3027), RKL (5614), Kabushi (122973), Martin Smith (63134), Terok Nor (18751), majutsushi (406) and quizzley7 (21210)