Oldschool Gaming - reviewing new games on classic computers
Main review :: written by Jason 

In the 26th century the Bydo was created by mankind as part of a badly botched genetic experiment to build a short-range ecological weapon, something that could destroy pretty much everything in its path before fizzling safely out. The result was dumped into a space station the size of a moon with the plan being to send it through a wormhole to emerge deep behind enemy lines, but something went horribly wrong and this deadly ball of hate ended up being pushed into another dimension, only to spend eons evolving into something far more dangerous before returning to Earth in the 22nd century. Now just one person stands between the Bydo and the destruction of our world and possibly the entire universe, so it's fortunate that said person has been equipped with a fresh off the production line R9-a Arrowhead fighter.

And, although it goes into battle with a weapon similar to a pea shooter, the R9-a does ship with a powerful wave cannon (which is charged by holding down the fire button until the gauge on the status bar is full) and the ability to collect weapons pods left behind by dispatched enemies; these items bolt extra firepower on like air to surface missiles and small support drones called "bits", but their most important function is powering up the R9-a's main cannons and bringing the Force into play, which is the real game changer. This is a small fragment of Bydo being controlled by human technology, which makes it indestructible, so along with laying down covering fire for the player when operating in standalone mode and seriously augmenting their firepower when attached to the craft's nose or tail, the Force can also act as a shield or even be used as a battering ram.

IT BEGINS DEEP IN SPACE, WARPED BY EVIL POWER
The original Amstrad release of R-Type was published by Electric Dreams and, because poor developer Keith A Goodyer was handed the source and assets for the Spectrum version along with a hideously short three week deadline, he had no time to even optimise the code let alone create custom graphics or sound. The results and critical response to a game which essentially "emulated" the Spectrum and then translated its screen for the Amstrad were, unsurprisingly, less than stellar so recently a small group of developers working collectively under the name Easter Egg decided that they wanted another bite at the cherry. And, after picking apart the existing port, they used some of what they discovered as a base for a radically improved 128K-only implementation.

The result is a true labour of love on Easter Egg's part and a significant improvement over the original Amstrad R-Type in pretty much every way; the display mode has been changed to the lower resolution but more colourful mode 0 (so all of the graphics needed to be completely redrawn to better utilise the hardware) and problems like the sluggishness of the controls in Electric Dreams' version have been addressed as well. The almost non-existent sound has been seriously beefed up too, with some very solid covers of the coin-op soundtrack being overlaid with solid spot effects.

The original coin-op wasn't exactly a walk in the park and the difficulty level has been commented on over the years, but R-Type 128's default setting is actually more challenging, with more aggressive enemies (the trademark rotating ring of guns on the first level don't bother waiting until the player within them before opening fire for example) and just a little less wiggle room in the more claustrophobic parts of later levels. It isn't Metal Dust difficult, but only the more experienced pilots should apply for harder difficulty settings and the majority of players will probably want to dial things down a little to suit their skills. It might not be quite as smooth as Paul Kooistra's Star Sabre, but R-Type 128 is a very solid addition to the Amstrad CPC's game library and any fan of shoot 'em ups or indeed the machine itself should at least download and give it a blast.

Information

R-TYPE 128

Format Amstrad CPC
Developer Easter Egg
Released 2012
Price Free
Review Jason
Download Available
Screenshots
Intro Screen
Intro Screen
Scores
Graphics
Sound
Playability
Lastability
9
9
8
9
   Overall 9
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