Classically Brutal With A Visual Twist –
Originally released on XBLA back in 2009 by Tozai, this 2-in-1 classic compilation has snuck its way onto Sony’s digital PSN platform. Combining both coin-op classics R-Type and R-Type II, Dimensions is basically a lesson in how much you suck at old school shooters.
Like Halo Anniversary, one of the key gimmicks of Dimensions is the ability to seamlessly switch between the original 2D pixel-based sprites and the newly available 3D skin. It is worth pointing out that this transition is very, very smooth and without any frame loss and screen darkening. In fact, this transition is much more fluid than the feature found in Halo Anniversary and presents itself with a classic but yet upgraded and welcomed vibe. It is worth playing through in both 2D and 3D to revive that sense of arcade game nostalgia. Personally, I preferred playing in the classic 2D mode as I thought the upgrade 3D skin isn’t particularly special but seeing these old pixel based sprites in high def just provides a welcoming charm.
Before starting either R-Type I or R-Type II, the player can choose between classic mode, in which the player has limited lives and will respawn all the way back at the latest checkpoint, or the new and most welcomed Infinite mode where the player will instantly respawn at the point of death with an infinite number of lives. In all honestly, Infinite mode is really the only way to actually get any enjoyment out of this game as both R-Types are brutally difficult. Just how difficult are these old school shooters that were designed to steal every quarter in your pocket? For example, stages in the original R-Type are only about one, maybe two minutes long. But in these 60 seconds of gameplay I managed to die well over 20 times before I finished the stage. That means I died about once every three or so seconds which is basically just as the respawn invincible buffer time wears off after each death. These R-Type games are beyond challenging. In fact, I will go as far to say they are unfair as there are some points where the player just has no chance of surviving by being overwhelmed by the amount of things on screen to paths that lead to dead ends.
Without the new Infinite mode, R-Type would easily be played once and never played again because of the high difficulty factor. This mode allows the player to see the entire game and still work for a higher spot on the leaderboard as every death is tracked and kill counted. The game even keeps track of metadata which provides entertaining useless facts within the options menu. Within time, sure, the player will inevitably become better but a tremendous amount of skill and dedication are needed to succeed in this game compilation.
Both games play in a similar fashion; you take control of this little space ship and it is your job to shoot anything that moves while avoiding coming into contact with anything on the screen. The main difference between R-Type I and R-Type II is the sequel allows the player to hold down the shoot button to warm up a big wide spread blast but each game features several different power-ups, speed boosts, and this little pod that attaches to your ship to increase offensive and defensive capabilities. Point being, there are many gameplay enhancements to keep gameplay constant, exciting, and fast paced. Enemies also attack from all sides of the screen so knowing how and when to shoot backward is also an important skill to learn.
It is a wonder why this compilation took so long to be released on PSN since the XBLA version has been around for five years at this point. Unfortunately, no extra features were added within this five year period to this PSN release as multiplayer mode is limited to two-player local only, only the arcade versions of R-Type I and II are included, there is no way to turn off the controller rumble feature from the main menu, and even the Trophies are the same as the Achievements in the XBLA version. But the lack of extra features still makes this $10 download enjoyable thanks to the Infinite mode and instantly swappable 2D to 3D visual style.
Not As Good As: Ikaruga
Better Than: Otomedius Excellent
Also Try: R-Type Command
By: Zachary Gasiorowski, Editor in Chief myGamer.com