Review – R-Type Final 2
If you love shoot ’em ups, especially horizontal shooters, you’ll love R-Type. The franchise is one of the most celebrated of the genre, alongside Gradius, boasting dozens of titles in countless platforms, as well as even some strategy-focused spinoffs. Even though their original developer, Irem, went the way of the dodo several years ago, the franchise lives on thanks to Granzella, formed by actual ex-Irem staff. R-Type Final 2 is their first foray tackling their beloved franchise in many years, and it might honestly be their best effort in all these decades.
I was shocked to find out that R-Type Final 2, a sequel to an Irem-developed game released a whopping seventeen years ago, was actually a Kickstarter-funded project. Sure, we see a lot of spiritual successors to classic franchises being funded this way, namely Yooka-Laylee and Bloodstained. But a former devteam being able to fund a sequel to a game released more than a decade prior, and with a lot of complicated legal mumbojumbo behind it? That’s rare. What’s really impressive about R-Type Final 2 is that it doesn’t feel like a reboot or a brand new way to introduce newcomers to the franchise. It’s a celebration of everything R-Type, with classic ships and enemies scattered through brand new levels, as well as a ton of fanservice on the side.
Gameplay-wise, very little has changed. After choosing from a ludicrous assortment of ships, not to mention the staggering amount of unlockable ones, you pick a difficulty setting and start playing from the first level, no matter how well you’ve played previously, old-school arcade style. The same Force spheres that have always been present in R-Type games are featured in here and offer the same kind of functionality. They can either be used as floating companions or an upgrade to your main ship’s hull if you touch it with its front or rear. New and old powerups are present, ranging from simple homing rockets to some nonsensical flame bursts that can wipe out every single ship and alien in front of you with ease.
R-Type Final 2 was meant to please fans first and foremost, so it retains the franchise’s absolutely chaotic level of difficulty. Sure, some easier options have been added, but the true R-Type experience is based around masterfully knowing how to dodge enemy attacks, since you can only tank hits if you have a Force orb attached to your ship. One hit, and you’re dead. You only have a limited amount of continues as well, meaning that the game isn’t here to make any friends. This is just how every other R-Type game has always been, and I’m fine with that. The game never feels downright unfair. Even though it forces you to fight against hundreds of aliens at a time, you can actually learn through your mistakes, even if the gameplay is as simple as holding down the shooting button until you reach the boss.
The amount of unlockable ships is absolutely staggering, with dozens upon dozens of well-crafted fighters at your disposal, each with different stats and attacks. You can unlock them by spending currency earned whenever your continues are depleted, as well as using passwords and reaching certain milestones. I appreciated this drip-feed system, slowly giving me new gadgets to play with the more I played the game. You can also completely customize their decals, transforming your ship into taste-defying abominations if you so wish.
With regards to its technical performance, R-Type Final 2 isn’t exactly great, but it gets the job done. Even though a lot of its assets feature that unmistakable “Unreal Engine 4 vibe”, the game’s strong art style, ludicrous amount of particle effects, and excellent framerate still make the game look like a sight for sore eyes. Finally, the soundtrack, which has also been one of the franchise’s highlights, is as good as ever. Sadly, the sound mixing is a bit clunky. There’s a bit of voice acting included in here, which felt completely unnecessary for a game about shooting Giger-esque aliens until your fingers fall off.
R-Type Final 2 is a hidden gem. It’s a love letter to a small but ultra-dedicated fanbase of a cult franchise, something we rarely see in this day and age. It doesn’t try to reboot the franchise or make it more accessible to newcomers: all it wants to do is celebrate the history of the R-Type series with what we love the most from it, namely a stupidly challenging but addictive gameplay loop and a jaw-dropping amount of unlockable content. This is one of the, if not the best shoot ’em up available for the PS4, so if you’re fan of the genre, you have to be crazy not to buy it.
Even though a lot of its assets feature that unmistakable “Unreal Engine 4 vibe”, R-Type Final 2‘s strong art style, ludicrous amount of particle effects, and excellent framerate still make the game look like a sight for sore eyes.
Once more, the button placement is a bit odd, but the game controls like a dream. It’s fast-paced as hell and your weapons all pack a punch.
The soundtrack is outstanding, just like most R-Type games, but the sound mixing and lame voice acting are a bit of a bummer.
Fun Factor: 8.5
Just like any of its predecessors, R-Type Final 2 is stupidly challenging and intimidating for the uninitiated, but a complete joy of a shooter for veterans. The amount of unlockables featured in this game is downright amazing.
Final Verdict: 8.5
R-Type Final 2 is available now on PS4, Xbox One, Xbox Series S/X, PC and Switch.
Reviewed on PS4.
A copy of R-Type Final 2 was provided by the publisher.