Review: R-Type Dimensions (PSN)

R-Type Dimensions Logo 
Developer: Southend Interactive
Publisher: Tozai Games
# of Players: 1-2
ESRB Rating: E (Everyone)
Official Site
Score: A (95%)

Some things never change, and in the case of R-Type and R-Type II, this is a great thing even if you’ve always hated both for being so incredibly brutal to play through. Developer Southend Interactive has put together a neat little retro package with a few great modern twists for you arcade shooter fans as well as anyone looking for a true old school challenge that’s finally flown onto PSN after appearing on the Xbox 360 last year. R-Type Dimensions is an absolute must-buy if you like your games tough, tricky and full of replay value. Sure, both games combined only total a mere fourteen stages, but just like back in 1987 and 1989, both games will test your reflexes to the maximum. And if you take what’s here for granted, how far you can throw a controller.

If you’re terrible at these types of shooters, terminally lazy or just want to see the endings of both before you flee this mortal coil, Dimensions includes couch co-op play and a new Infinite mode that gives you multiple lives, allowing anyone to blow through the game no matter how many times you’re blasted into space dust. Of course, purists will want this because the classic games are intact and perfectly presented in terms of gameplay and even the terrible “Get me a proofreader!” text that spells out the rather minimalist story…

While some shooter fans prefer later games like R-Type III or R-Type Final as personal favorites thanks to both being easier on a few fronts or having much nicer visuals, the first two games set themselves firmly in the “Try and beat us!” camp that divides genre fans even to this day. Survival in both games requires not wasting a single shot, learning patterns, avoiding enemy shots and the MANY assorted hazards the game throws your way with a mere three lives at your disposal. If you’re new to these games (or just old an rusty like me), you’ll lose ship after ship on the first level alone BEFORE you reach the first boss. However, practice makes close to perfect after a while, folks. As lethal as the standard enemies and stage designs are, the screen-filling bosses here will make you cry, scream and perhaps want to go find a new and less frustrating hobby.

But you wouldn’t know this at first thanks to the languid pacing and s-l-o-w speed of your trusty little R-9, the sole offense to the Bydo Empire (unless you play co-op, of course). Both your shots and enemy fire drift towards each other and you have ample time to drift in any of four directions away from danger. And then, just as you’re chuckling at the old visuals and thinking this will be an easy ride, one of those slow moving shots catches you by surprise or you hit something that pops up or down or behind you or somewhere else from the screen and BOOM. Things go from slow to “Pay Attention!” speed in a hurry. One you get some flight time in, the first two stages aren’t THAT difficult, but from stage 3 onwards, you’ll be tested by some of the tightest programming you’ll ever experience. In other words, this isn’t a game to be playing if you’re tired or in a cranky mood…

That said, after a time spent dying horribly in the same spots… something clicks (or it should if you’re in the proper zone) and instead of going down in flames, you’ve memorized patterns and can take down that annoying alien boss ship without losing a life and you’re smiling and sweaty and pumping your fist into the sky. And then the next level begins and you start failing all over again, learning again and eventually conquering again. And then you reach the next stage and BOOM. Oh well. Keep at it, pal. Victory will come eventually! For a mere ten bucks, this game will make some of you wish it cost more so you didn’t buy it and bust your controller when you bounced if off the nearest wall. For the rest of you, you’ll be reliving the glory days and wanting to show off your skills on your YouTube or Twitch channels.

In addition to the original games running in HD with that classic soundtrack pumping away, you also get both versions with nicely updated visuals including some nicely detailed backdrops. As noted above, Infinite mode can make things easier (it’s playable in retro or modern modes) and you can even toggle between the old and new graphics with the tap of a button. I’d do this only after some time learning or re-learning the game, as death by distraction isn’t the way to go when you’re trying to take down the Bydo Empire and look good doing it. If you REALLY want to blow through the game, pick Infinite mode, tweak the controls so you have rapid fire with slow motion and the ability for your handy Force Pod(s) to fire at will with no stuttering and boo-yah! You’ll be setting records every time and not feeling guilty (although you should, ya cheating bum, you!).

Everything’s peachy in this vintage package except for one thing – the game isn’t Vita compatible. Granted, this is the sort of game that thrives on as big a screen as possible (you kind of need to see those tiny shots and pinpoint exactly where you need to move your trusty R-9), but having the option to take this on the road and play via wi-fi with a pal would have been perfection. Granted, ANY lag of any type in a game like this is going to be horrible indeed for anyone trying to beat this in arcade mode, but even if this was solo play on the Vita, I’d give it an even bigger recommendation than I am already. Despite this omission, R-Type Dimensions NEEDS to be in your game library as soon as possible. Bring a friend along for the couch co-op ride, but make sure they bring their own controller…

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