R-Type: iPhone/iPad App Review

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R-Type is a true classic, and arguably one of the greatest (and toughest) shoot-em-up arcade games ever made. Long-time iPhone owners and fans of the game may be aware it has been available for iOS for some time, and that the conversion was a faithful one. However, the game was never updated to make use of the iPhone 5’s larger screen, and was eventually removed from the App Store near the beginning of the year. Now, it has made a reappearance, but instead of being released by Electronic Arts, it’s from DotEmu, the studio responsible for the conversion in the first place.

DotEmu has a solid reputation inside the App Store, as it has released several excellent ports of classic arcade games, including Raiden Legacy and Avenging Spirit. So how has R-Type been treated the second time around? It’s good news, as the game is almost identical to the version found in the App Store until recently, which means it’s the same as the game played in arcade halls in the late 1980s.

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R-Type has a reputation for being very difficult, and it’s well-deserved. Anyone used to playing shoot-em-ups with infinite lives, continues or weapons will be in for a shock, as R-Type doesn’t reward anything other than perfection. To beat the game, you need to be really, really good at it, as you’re not outmatched in terms of firepower – your craft has incredible weapons – but if you die, then you’re sent back to the last checkpoint (which could be the start of the level) with only your basic weapon. Then you really are outmatched. On the later levels, the loss of a life can mean game over, no matter how many other lives you have saved up.

To play R-Type, you need to know the levels back to front. All the enemies have a set pattern which never changes, and learning this is essential to your success. At the end of each level is a boss, or in the case of level three, the boss battle starts at the very beginning. To beat them, you’ll need to know exactly where to shoot and where to place your ship. There’s usually only one right position, and only experience will allow you to find it. It’s worth learning, as the game presents such a challenge, it’s very rewarding when you complete it. Just don’t expect to pass the first few levels before you put in the time.

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If you already own the old version of R-Type, you’re probably wondering why you need to pay for it again, and what’s different. The game, right down to the menus and audio, is the same as the old one, except now it’s optimized for the iPhone 5’s wider screen, plus it’s universal for the iPad. Playing R-Type on the iPad is easier than on the iPhone, because you get a better view of the enemies which approach from behind (see, told you it was difficult), as they’re sometimes hidden behind your hand on the iPhone. The downside of the iPad is you can’t hold the tablet and play, it must rest on a surface. This is because the ship follows the movement of your finger on the screen, which is too large to just use your thumb, plus to charge up your weapon for a mega-blast, you must hold down a separate button. So unless you’ve got an extra hand, it just doesn’t work.

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Playing the old EA version after the new DotEmu game revealed almost no difference, although for some reason, the controls felt ever-so slightly faster on the EA game. We tried the game on an iPhone 5 and an iPad 3, and it ran perfectly on each, although some iTunes reviews mention performance issues on older devices. Otherwise, if you liked the old R-Type, you’ll like this one just as much. It’s a worthy upgrade if you’ve got an iPad and want some good old shooting action, but if you’ve never played R-Type before, just remember it takes practice to play well. We think it’s absolutely worth it, and as the game is as addictive as ever, putting in the time is easy. It’s priced just right at £1.49, and it’s a flawless conversion of a much loved arcade classic.

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