Xbox One, PS4, PC, Nintendo Switch,
April 30, 2021
Calling all pilots! Strap in for this one. R-Type Final 2 is here to take you on a galactic expedition to an overrun alien planet. It’s got the look of and the feel of an arcade side-scroller classic, just begging for another coin!
As far as sidescrollers go, the execution of the game as a sci-fi space shooter is pretty on point. It’s certainly not a bullet hell game, but more of a bullet survival game. It requires less finesse and more memory of patterns. Think of it as Space Invaders but literally flipped on its side. The game pairs the horizontal combat with rich 3D environments that are a visual feast in between alien skirmishes.
This entry in the series actually started out as a crowdfunded project on Kickstarter with an initial goal that got easily met and then some. This is truly a testament to how much the fanbase wanted a new release in the series, so it’s awesome to finally see the game they helped make happen.
From the get-go, R-Type Final 2 shows off with impressive animated cutscenes. It feels extravagant and worthy of attention even before the side-scroller alien battles begin. Soon the game is going through the motions, allowing you to name your character and select either male or female gender. It’s an oddly personal touch that notably isn’t at all relevant to the story, however, the inclusion does add a level of immersion to the game.
“It’s easy to focus on the gameplay and just feel the story out as you go.”
For those new to the R-Type franchise, there’s no need to feel like you’re left on the tarmac for this one. Despite being around for decades, the story of the games is hardly the focus above the original lore of the series. At its core, it’s a shoot ’em up that guides players through levels, so it’s easy to focus on the gameplay and just feel the story out as you go. Honestly, after several runs, the prologue becomes forgettable and there’s fortunately an option to skip it altogether. The game does feature multiple endings depending on your playthrough though so keep that in mind if you get to the end of the game and discover the bad ending like I did the first time around.
The player is given the option to select one of three ships in the beginning, with the ability to change your selection on each run and in-between levels if you survive. You can even change the aesthetics of the ship with decals and when you progress further in the game, you can alter what weapons your ship starts out with. As you can imagine, starting the game off with a different loadout would be quite advantageous, especially if you’re stuck on a section.
The Difficulty of R-Type Final 2
The game has 5 difficulty levels ranging from “Kids” to “R-Typer”, though one should note that the difficulty does not change the mechanics of the game. You still die after one hit no matter the level and the enemies on higher difficulties feel the same. What changes is the amount of foes and the projectiles they fire.
The gameplay is a mixture of shooting enemies using the various ship attacks, dodging incoming projectiles, and navigating the environment as the game edges you forward in the level. As you progress you encounter general enemies, mini-bosses, and a level boss while picking up an assortment of in-game power-ups! Players also start each run with an amount of “credits” which function as your lives on a run.
Each time you die, you lose one credit until you have none left at which point the run is over. As mentioned, there is no health system in the game for the player. One hit is all it takes to wipe your progress. Honestly, while a 3-hit system does ring true to the arcade roots of a title like this, the 1-hit feels like an adequate challenge. It does at times become tedious though. In some levels, it’s easy to lose multiple “credits” just learning the enemy patterns and it does take time to load back into the level. It’s also not uncommon to lose 2 lives in quick succession due to the load time, because you weren’t properly ready and focused for the retry.
Taking Control of an R-Type Vessel
Picking up R-Type Final 2 is a totally new experience for me as I never played the other games in the franchise, nor have I played a side-scroller like this. It was incredibly easy to pick up and get into with minimal tutorial. Truly, the game gives a warm feeling of nostalgia. The credit life system and the side-scroller motion to the levels make it feel like it’s straight out of the arcade which adds to one’s urge to replay certain sections even just to experience the visuals again. More so when you don’t need to put more coins in the machine.
“It’s also a joy to test the different ships and unlock others in the roster available in-game.”
It’s also a joy to test the different ships and unlock others in the roster available in-game. They all adhere to a similar style but many feature different stylised components. They also feature a variety of attacks. Many of the ships feature varied charge attacks such as a pure beam attack that wipes a path for the ship or the more controlled heavy shot that detonates on impact.
The best thing about the game is collecting the power-ups in levels to see what new attack is obtained in the heat of some of the more erratic skirmishes. I’m usually not huge on power-ups when they aren’t marked, but in this game, it works because it makes the gameplay more frantic. Each one is a little gatcha-like surprise of lead ready to spray at the incoming aliens.
The boss battles also encapsulate a hearty amount of quirk that I wasn’t expecting from a game like this. Lilil Prototype is the fourth and one of the more interesting bosses of the game, utilising a wrecking ball mechanic that made keeping track of its movements and swinging pathway essential. This game really is quite enjoyable, even after you’ve replayed it a few times. You’re still able to find variety in the game through ship selection and game difficulty. Despite the narrative not holding up across multiple playthroughs, the game remains quite enjoyable even during replays thanks to these engaging fights and ship selections.
While there isn’t a lot of variety between the difficulty levels, playing on normal feels a little too comfortable even before learning enemy patterns. But skill can only get you so far. Some areas become crowded by objects inlaid in the players’ layer that are hard to differentiate from the background or foreground which feels less like a challenge the developers intended and more like an oversight with accessibility. Even by side-scroller standards, the environment shouldn’t be killing you unintentionally.
Some areas of R-Type Final 2 use the background to show depth but other areas remove this depth altogether, feeling almost lacklustre if it wasn’t for the skirmish taking place. This may be an attempt to focus the player on the battle, which largely does work as there are parts where the level design sinks into the background of the side-scroller. Similarly, the foreground at times is where the mini-bosses sit so the player is strangely able to fly beneath them. This is annoying as the whole objective of avoiding the enemy because they are stronger becomes irrelevant. All you have to do is avoid the attacks, which isn’t as hard as it sounds after you know the patterns.
What to make of R-Type Final 2
R-Type Final 2 does everything the franchise sets out to do almost a little too well. Now’s the time when the franchise should be introducing new features on top of the already tried and tested ones veteran players have come to expect. The facelift is a welcome one that it wears effortlessly, but I definitely see the potential for this game to experiment with newer modes. Imagine a mirror mode that flips the levels from left to right to right to left, or a sped-up variant that really pushes the player to make quicker decisions. Considering the franchise’s history, they could even feasibly do a retro mode that brings all players back to the roots of the series using the old series’ art assets in the same side-scroller fashion.
As is, R-Type Final 2 is a stylized sci-fi shooter that brings the challenge in a way that’s not what genre players might expect but is still a worthy return. R-Type Final 2 carries the series through to 2021, but where will it go next after such an impressive Kickstarter? This entry is certainly a solid one that new and returning players will easily be able to sink hours of play into but the launch price might be a bit steep for some. If you’ve had any good experiences with side-scrollers and you’re looking for a new one to fly into, R-Type Final 2 certainly will be worth your time. Just remember these aliens can blow your ship up with one hit!
- Aesthetically on brand
- Variety in ships to choose from even early in the game
- Inspired boss battle designs
- Energetic soundtrack
- Poorly skewed combat encounters significantly lacking balancing
- Some level design is clunky at the expense of the player
- Expansive yet limited ship personalisation options
If you need a hit of nostalgia from a sci-fi shooter, then jump in the cockpit for this one. It packs the challenge but may feel a little too stuck in the arcades of old. This release is a testament to the power of a loyal fanbase. As far as side-scrollers go, it’s definitely on the money. For many, a space-themed game like this might feel like something new and exciting for the genre. Difficulty does require some fine-tuning and there are some levels that will kill you more than the actual enemies if you’re not careful. Returning players will likely see this game as a solid tribute to a franchise they hold dear but it’s worth jumping in even if you are completely new to the side-scroller world of R-Type. Time to shoot some aliens!