They don’t make shoot ‘em ups like they used to, and to prove it, R-Type 2 has been released for the iPhone. It’s the sequel to R-Type, the incredibly tough and highly influential arcade shooter, which has received two mobile releases. The most recent was a reworked version for iOS 7 and the iPhone 5, produced by French development studio DotEmu. The same team is responsible for this new port of its sequel.
R-Type 2 isn’t as well known as its predecessor. However, if you like the original, you’ll find plenty to enjoy here too. Little has changed really. It’s a side-scrolling game spread over six levels, all of which see you piloting a small spaceship and battling an evil enemy. The plot is a continuation of the first game, and starts off after you’ve destroyed the Bydo empire’s base.
The level design has, amazingly, become even more fiendish, with more enemies to fight and even more bullets to avoid. If you thought the onslaught was relentless in R-Type, you’re in for a shock here. Each level still ends with a massive boss battle though, and they are considerably harder to beat than the first. It’s good to see some variety in the design, with the water filled second stage a particular standout.
As the enemy has more firepower, so you get some upgrades too. R-Type was never short on big weaponry, and although it’s similar here, there are new homing missiles and improved ground assault weapons. Ultimately though, to beat R-Type 2 you’ll need your wits about you – everything happens much faster than the first game – and make a real effort to learn the enemy’s attack patterns.
Sounds easy, right? It’s not. R-Type’s legendary difficulty has returned, and you’ll do plenty of dying before making it very far. When you do die, you return to a set checkpoint, but without any additional weapons. Enemies come from all directions, so you constantly need to watch your back, which puts even more emphasis on learning when and where the nasties will appear.
Visually, the game is really impressive, with the option to keep the original look or a smoothed over modern style. We played it on the iPhone 5 and the third generation iPad, and it performed perfectly. It’s compatible with both, and does play slightly better on the tablet. There’s a choice of a virtual joystick or touch controls, the latter being easier and more precise, but your finger will inevitably block your view – hence the bigger screen being the better option.
R-Type 2’s more complex levels are made even harder by the touch controls, particularly the maze stage midway through. It’s great to see DotEmu has added support for the new range of iOS 7 game controllers, and the analogue joysticks should make R-Type 2 a little easier to play.
There are three different gameplay settings, the standard normal mode, an unlimited life mode, and an insane mode to unlock. Selecting autofire is a sensible move, leaving you to activate the super weapon when you need it.
R-Type 2 isn’t for everyone. It’s really, really hard for a start, and not really all that different to the original. However, it’s very exciting to play, and gets your heart racing even after the first few waves on the first level. Dedication sees you get a tiny bit further each go, and it’s addictive enough to keep keen players returning. R-Type 2 is priced at £1.49 and is a universal app. If you’re not afraid of a challenge, fondly remember the first game, and have a love of old arcade shooters, you’ll want to pick this one up.