Well well well, it's time for another 'Ho ho ho, they're never going to be able to convert that onto the Spectrum.' Have you ever seen the original Arcade machine? It's something of a classic - firmly in the Defender mould but with massive colourful sprites and more action than you could shake a boomerang at. In fact it's hardly surprising that plans for downloading it onto the Speccy were received with, erm, mirth to say the very least. I must admit I myself thought something along the lines of "R-Type? Oh yeah?" Well, Spec-chums - let me tell you something: I've never been more wrong. Well, I have actually, like the time I was spouting forth 'knowledgably' at a dinner party about Evelyn Waugh while labouring under the serious misconception that he was a woman - but that's another (and far more embarassing story).
Anyway, R-Type on the Speccy. Here we go. Oh, hang on a minute, some of you won't have seen the coin-op so I'll bring you in gently. R-Type, in a nutshell, is a right to left scrolling blast 'em up with 'power-up' icons to collect and more deadly aliens than the planet Zoggo. If you think along the lines of Zynaps you'll be sort of on the right path. Anyway, having cleared that up let's have a good old gander at the game in question. Basically it's one where you shoot everything that moves - some things shoot back at you while others just get in the way and result in your death on contact. The scrolling background is a sort of cavern with ceiling and floor outcroppings in places, and these, needless to say, can also be crashed into. If you manage to get past the myriad nasties/outcroppings and whatever else then you'll eventually be confronted by the end of level meganasty - and believe me, in this game we're talking meganasties with a capital 'M', but luckily you can pick up icons en route which will increase your firepower.
Righto, a fairly familiar scenario then, but the programming and execution behind this game mean it has to be played to be believed. Firstly colour: I actually thought they might have to do this conversion in monochrome, but oh no me hearties, there's colour all right - loads of it with little or no colour clash. Secondly the graphics and sprites themselves move beautifully and some of them are big (big big big), such as the giant spinning 'wheel monster' type thingy near the end of level one. You actually have to get your ship inside it and shoot it in the eye to close its account. And I'm sure there are a lot of even bigger nasties waiting on further levels (I couldn't get past level one before writing this) because there are in the coin-op, and this looks like being a pretty faithful conversion. Thirdly, the weapons system is brilliant. Quick clicks on the fire-button produce standard bursts of laser fire, but should you require a bit more 'oomph' then hold the button down for a sec. You can see the nose of the ship collecting surrounding atoms of some description - then when you release the button again, a large fireball zooms out. Also the 'power up' icons give you some very impressive weapons - indeed a three-way laser, er, well - that's the only one I can describe actually (given the space), but believe me, some of them are brillo. Fourthly there's the incredible addictiveness. The learning curve is a toughy, but also very rewarding once you get each bit licked - thanks to the 'play on' option. Each time you lose your three lives you get plonked on a screen which allows you to continue from where you left off (if you want to - and you probably will). However, this play-on option does only work five times during each game, so you eventually have to start from scratch again, but it means you get a lot of practice at getting past the really difficult bits towards the end of the levels. .
I could go on adding to the list of brilliant things but really it all boils down to this: R- Type is a fiendishly addictive and difficult shoot em up with great graphics, loads of colour and the kind of knobs which make it scream "Hey, I'm absolutely playable - come and have another go!". In fact I think I will. Oh dear, I can't move for some reason. Yaaarrrghhh! I enjoyed playing R-Type so much that I've become paralysed from the spleen down, it's not fair, it's not fair - I want another go!!!!
An unmissable shoot 'em up. As addictive as Angel Delight and twice as butterscotchy. As faithful a conversion as one could hope for. It's a corker.
Here's one of the brilliant weapons you can upgrade to. Looks pretty powerful, doesn't it? That's because it is!!!
And here's the three beam laser thingy. It reaches the parts other lasers cannot reach!
Blimey - that nasty's a little bit on the 'mega' side, isn't it? Hold tight chum, while I prime a fireball to send into your jaws!