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R-Type – Space Odyssey

R-Type – Space Odyssey

Oh yes—the 80ies are back. Spaceship full throttle battles and synthesizer muzak are R-Type’s calling cards and helped promote the game to Game Boy cult status. The arcade game is now available for Android smartphones and tablets. Read on to find out if the game is still as much fun as it was back in the day.


Reviewed version Latest version
1.0.4 2.3.1

Features & Use

Test device 1: Samsung Google Nexus S
Android version: 2.3.6

Test device 2: Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1
Android version: 3.2

I must admit that I was super excited about testing out R-Type for you all. Some of you will remember it from the Days of Yore and playing the game on your Game Boys and/or Super Nintendo.

I install the 14,20 MB sized file, check out the required permissions (seems kosher) and am all set to play my first round.
The first thing I see once I’ve installed the game is the main display which is pared down to show the bare essentials: Games, Settings and More Games. Hit Settings in order to adjust the controls (sensor, arcade, switch continuous fire on/off) and adjust the volume of the music or sound effects.

For all those of you who aren’t familiar with R-Type, here’s a brief overview: as mentioned, it’s a classic 80’s arcade shooter, and the goal is to protect a spaceship from the Bydo Empire. There are plenty of power-ups, new weaponry and other boosts that will help you do so. And that’s about it as far as narrative goes—what can I say: it’s a shooter game, the narrative plays a secondary role.

R-Type has

  • 8 levels
  • 2 controls settings
  • 2 levels of difficulty
  • 8 enemy opponents

The gameplay may be simple, but playing the game certainly is not—and that’s what makes it so thrilling. Enemies are attacking from all directions, flying, falling, jumping and firing at you. There are lots of upgrades supplying you with new weapons, but don’t be lulled into a false state of tranquility: weapons disappear as quickly as they are made available, or rather every time the spacecraft is hit. The spacecraft is destroyed if it is hit. So it’s all about an offensive defense, and while that includes a lot of open fire and collecting power-ups, there’s also a bit of strategy in the mix.

The two controls options are great: the sensor allows you to control the spacecraft by swiping, and the second alternative is a classic arcade settings with pad controls. I’m more partial to the sensor settings because I’m a sucker for efficiency, and this allows me to lay the tablet on a table top and thus exert more control over the game. Fast flight maneuvers and successfully evading attacks are a must. That said, the arcade settings are reminiscent of the original Game Boy game, so there’s something to be said for them as well.

I find the smartphone and tablet adaption of R-Type to be very well done. There’s no doubt that there’s a different feel to playing the game than when we used to actually have the feel of pressing the buttons beneath our fingertips, but controls are very good, and you get used to them quite quickly. Be warned (or thrilled): the game is tough, and if you lose you spaceship a little bit alter on in a level you will have to continue on without power-ups or boosts.

You are given 5 lives—once you’ve used them all up it’s game over. I can’t recall exactly what the deal with activated levels was in the original version of R-Type, but with the Android version levels remain available to players once they’ve been activated.

The graphics are phenomenal—that is, provided you enjoy grainy, pixilated 8-Bit graphics.

Bottom line:

The Android version of R-Type did not disappoint me: it’s a fast paced, action packed game, and a very successful adaption of the 80’s classic. It has a great retro feel to it thanks to the graphics and sound.

Once you’ve sussed out which controls options work best for you, my guess is that you won’t be able to stop playing. It’s that same old drive, propelling you onwards to see how far you can get.
And while 8 levels may not seem like all that much, I think you’ll find that the represent a real challenge. Getting ahead is tough, so it’s all about practicing. If you are anything like me you will get hooked: it’s all about getting ahead in the game.


Screen & Controls

R-Type was designed for a very small screen (the Game Boy screen), so it doesn’t come as a surprise that the game seems very well thought-out. That said, it can happen that enemies attack you from just where you’ve place your finger, making it difficult to react in time. Xperia users are in luck as the game was optimised for Xperia.
Controls are good, and the amount of time it takes for a ship to react are instantaneous, which is crucial for a game like this one.

Speed & Stability

R-Type does very well in this category. It runs fast and flawlessly. It reacts instantaneously and doesn’t crash.

Price/Performance Ratio

The price is the only drawback: R-Type costs 3,56 EUR, but keep in mind that the same game would’ve cost XX amounts of $/EUR/etc. However—R-Type is our app of the week and thus available for only 1,78 EUR, which strikes me as being a very fair price.


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