Irlem - 1987
Machine: Arcade, and many others
Genre: Vehicle Shooter
R-Type has long been the yardstick that all side scrolling shooters have been measured against and it's easy to see why. It's fast, great to look at and each level brings a different challenge with new types of enemy. Playing it is a skill and it's devastatingly difficult skill to learn but learn it you must because you wont stop until you've beaten it.
R-Type introduced three things which made it stand out. Firstly your basic weapon has to be charged up, the longer you hold down the fire button the more powerful the shot. This simple idea adds a whole new level to the genre; the longer you charge the shot, the longer you are left defenceless. The second innovation was the system of power-ups which build on top of each other until you have some really spectacular firepower with which to lay those aliens to waste. The third great improvement over others of it's genre is the level design. Each level is so completely different from the last, not just different enemies coming at you but each level works in a different way. One level is just a huge spaceship which you have get around without getting squashed. On another level the aliens build walls behind them as they fly which you have to blast you way through. This is not a mindless game; you really have to think your way through each level.
R-Type is hard, very hard, and when you keep dying, and loosing all your weapons, and are sent back a few screens you will cry, but it's worth it. R-Type is a legend, much replicated, never equalled.
Jakey 02 Feb '03
R-Type Museum - A good unofficial site with lots to do.
R-Type Official Site - This site covers the game and its sequels.