R-Type. The very name sends shivers of nostalgia down every self-respecting late-’80s gamer’s spine. The huge bosses. The seminal beam weapon. That death sound. It is a work of beauty. It’s an astounding break from the norm; so is its sequel. But its threequel? Is it any good? Well, you’re about to find out. Unless you’re illiterate. Or blind. But if that were the case, why would you be here?
For those not familiar with the R-Type series, I will provide a hasty explanation of its basic mechanics. The joystick moves. Button 1 fires. Button 2 releases your attached force pod (absorbs bullets for you and hosts sub-weapons). Holding Button 1 charges your beam weapon, and releasing it fires said weapon, now (as stated) conveniently charged. That’s it.
This game is tough. I mean, really tough. It all boils down to trial and error—a memory test. You must remember the patterns of bullets and obstacles and try your utmost to avoid them. You’ll have to squeeze into the tightest spots, literally pixels away from death.
You may become frustrated with the game. I know I did. But it just kept dragging me back. It has a charisma and atmosphere to it that other shoot-em-ups just cannot achieve, let alone sustain.
You will genuinely dread the appearance of the bosses. They are a shining example of early-’90s gaming imagination. A gigantic tunneling spider. A rotating room guarded by a giant horse chestnut. A…green wall that shoots…sperm cells at you. All are supreme tests of skill and endurance. It’s highly unlikely that you’ll ever beat this game. It’s highly unlikely that you’ll ever beat the transforming, deceptive maze that is level three.
R-Type III‘s visuals stand the test of time fairly well. Impressive and meaty enemy sprites and gorgeous rotating scenery up the graphical ante to impressive heights. A remarkable lack of slowdown (especially when compared to its predecessor, Super R-Type) and minimal sprite flicker also impress. From my experience, R-Type III is the best-looking shooter on the SNES.
The sound is an acquired taste. If you like simulated guitar thrashes, you’ll like this. The heavy remix of the original R-Type‘s first stage theme will delight series aficionados. Then again, if you do not like simulated guitar thrashes, you will not like it. The sound effects are a little weak, with the ultimate hyper beam weapon making a fairly pathetic “fyooow” sound. Something that takes that long to charge up needs at least a “BABOOOOOOOSHAAAAAAAAKAAAALAAAAAA!!!!”
To sum up—R-Type III is good. Really good. Unfortunately, it may not appeal to casual gamers, as the aforementioned difficulty level can become quite, quite ridiculous. However, its upcoming GBA re-release will hopefully give it a new audience.