Description official descriptions
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 color, 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 trendsetting since it broke off from the stereotypical sci-fi mold 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 memorization that is required of R-Type's contemporary rival, Gradius.
- アール・タイプ - Japanese spelling
Credits (Arcade version)
Average score: 83% (based on 57 ratings)
Average score: 4.0 out of 5 (based on 183 ratings with 3 reviews)
The theme music is among the most catchy ever, and the Amiga's sound hardware was ideal to recreate it. You could happy sit there listening to it without even playing the game.
I recommend playing it though. The level designs are intricate, with some great attack patterns and a variety of enemies to surprise you, all recreated in minute detail from the arcade. The look and feel is spot on.
This was a hugely innovative game, spawning a number of similar titles.
Unfortunately, games like Project X and Disposable Hero contained better power-up systems, more balanced difficulty levels, and far prettier graphics, especially backgrounds.
The game style seems rather passé now, in an age where we're used to viewing action from the human perspective, and having control mechanisms to suit.
The Bottom Line
A sideways scrolling shoot 'em up featuring a variety of weapons, all manner of bad guys, and lots of fast thrilling action.
Amiga · by Martin Smith (81365) · 2004
Graphics and sound/music are very good, I like that when you enter the enemy base in stage 1, the lights come on, the idea probably taken from Konami's Gradius. The idea of an indestructible droid that you can affix to your front or rear and use as a shield against (basic)bullets...it's an excellent thing to have in most scrolling shooters. Of course having unlimited use of a powered-up, pulse beam is great too. Stage 3 being one massive boss...another good, original idea. And I like the idea of an underwater cave for stage 5. All of these things would make it superior to a lot of other shooters, except.....
..that it really doesn't play that well. To stay alive you have to be lucky or spend time(and money) learning the order of attacks and the moments they occur. So they've made up for having the protection of a droid and unlimited pulse laser beams, by making the enemy stronger, attacking you from all sides. To its credit, the game goes fairly easy on you in the first stage, you're allowed to enjoy the game a bit before it crushes you in stage 2. I think it's a serious gameplay problem when you get so far because of having built up good firepower, then the enemy gets past your defenses and you're stripped of everything and find that you can barely stay alive, you're not given much chance to regain the firepower that got you this far.
The Bottom Line
I think the game would be bearable if you found a way to have infinite lives, which would keep you from being sent back to the beginning of the stage after game over. But basically I think the game's good graphics, sound and overall theme were ruined by the gameplay.
Arcade · by Andrew Fisher (695) · 2018
I have heard about R-Type since the early Nineties, but since I haven't gotten around in playing it. I knew it was all the rage, but I didn't realize how good it was. It was certainly different to other shooters that were available around its time.
I was impressed at how well designed the title screen is, consisting of the usual R-Type logo and that huge alien. I like the way that you read information about the R-9 spaceship while the Speccy version is loading itself up, and look at the accompanying illustrations next to it. This is great, as you have something useful to do rather than bore yourself to death.
There are eight levels in the game, and all of them contain graphics that are influenced by the works of H.R. Giger. Each sprite is huge and brightly colored, and there is smooth scrolling throughout. Most games released for the machine have a lot of color clash. But in this game, there is very little of it here. The background, consisting of stars that scroll toward you, is well done. The bosses that you have to fight are almost as big as its arcade counterpart.
Gameplay-wise, there are eight levels in R-Type, and all these levels contain elements that are recognizable from the arcade version. The upgrades you can get are color-coded so that you can tell how powerful they are, and out of all of them, I like the red upgrades. The force may not be responsive in the Speccy version, but that is a minor problem. You can customize your keys, which is useful for me, as I am playing it through an emulator which I have difficulties using the emulated joystick with.
As the trivia page tells you, the initial Speccy version had an error which prevented level eight from loading from the tape. This seems to be fixed in the 128k version.
The Bottom Line
The Speccy conversion of R-Type tries to replicate the original arcade, with impressive results. Both the graphics and the gameplay shines, and it is as fun to play as the original arcade. There is no background music during gameplay, but anyone who is too focused on the game would hardly notice this. Any person who owns Sir Clive's machine and who is a fan of shooters should add R-Type to their collection.
ZX Spectrum · by Katakis | カタキス (43051) · 2012
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 instead, meaning players who completed the first seven levels didn't get to see the last one. This was corrected in the budget reissue.
- Commodore Force
- December 1993 (Issue 13) – #74 “Readers' Top 100”* 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)* Game Art Beyond
- In 2018, R-Type was selected as one of the biggest classics on the Commodore 64 by the creators of the C64 graphics collection Game Art Beyond. R-Type was honoured with a high resolution title picture in a special C64 graphics format called NUFLI, along with a C64 version of the Amiga R-Type theme.
- 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
- January 1990 (issue #06) - Included in the list 50 Games of the Year
- January 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
Related Sites +
AtariMania (Electric Dreams, FR/DE/IT/UK, Atari ST)
For Atari ST: game entry database; downloadable release; game packaging; advertisement; manuals; magazine reviews; additional material.
CPC-Power (in French)
For Amstrad CPC: game database entry; game packaging; manual digitalizations; goodies; advertisement; magazine reviews; downloadable releases; additional material.
CPCRrulez (in French)
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Hall of Light
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For Commodore 64: game entry database; advertisement; magazine reviews; music; documentation; cover art; additional material.
MSX Games World
for MSX: game database entry; package material; additional material.
For MSX: game database entry; game packaging; manuals; additional material.
Official game website
R-Type J2ME versions Official Homepage
Official Homepage of J2ME version of R-Type.
Ravage's Unofficial R-Type Homepage
Fan page devoted to the popular space shooter.
SMS Power! (Master System)
For Master System: releases info; credits; box text; additional material.
Speccy Screenshot Maps
For ZX Spectrum: Map of the game composed by screenshots.
For ZX Spectrum: games database, magazine references, magazine adverts, additional material.
The Arcade Flyer Archive (Irem, Japan)
for Arcade: digital repository for advertisement flyers
The Arcade Flyer Archive (Nintendo, USA)
for Arcade: digital repository for advertisement flyers
The International Arcade Museum
for Arcade: extensive information about the arcade game machine.
For ZX Spectrum: a central archive for all Spectrum and SAM games hints, tips, cheats, maps, hacks and pokes.
Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Encyclopaedic entry for the combined platforms of the game.
Information about R·Type at Wikipedia
World of Spectrum
For ZX Spectrum: downloadable releases; additional material including – cassette inlay, advertisement, instructions; remakes links; player reviews; magazine references; magazine adverts.
ZX-Art - online archive of pixel art and 8-bit music
For ZX Spectrum: music, credits, pixel art. Artist's graphics artwork.
- MobyGames ID: 5960
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Contributors to this Entry
Game added by quizzley7.
Amiga added by EboMike. J2ME added by Picard. PC-88 added by Trypticon. Commodore 64 added by Quapil. Wii added by Corn Popper. iPhone added by Mister-k81. Nintendo 3DS added by GTramp. SEGA Master System added by PCGamer77. Wii U added by Harmony♡. TurboGrafx-16 added by RKL. Ouya added by Sciere. iPad, Android, Atari ST added by Kabushi. MSX, ZX Spectrum, Amstrad CPC added by Martin Smith. Antstream added by lights out party. Arcade, Sharp X68000 added by Terok Nor. TurboGrafx CD added by majutsushi.
Game added March 14th, 2002. Last modified August 17th, 2023.