R TYPE in Review – blowing a nostalgic hole in your apps

Talk a out a walk on the old school side. After toggling R TYPE’s icon, I was treated to the most embarrassing flashbacks of bad hairdo’s, rebellious clothes, and Kurt Cobain’s whiny trill. Yep, back when R TYPE was en rage on the SNES, I was a very dedicated teenager. I also happened to sneak my way into friends’ houses to blow things up on screen since I just didn’t have a SNES. Thanks to Electronic Arts, however, R TYPE, the virtual time machine, is hot in the hands of wanna-be teenagers the world over!

Electronic Arts saw to it that R-Type stuck to its guns so to speak, so if you’re a dyed in the wool shooting game fan, you’ve got a near perfect translation of the original at your fingertips. What that means other than surface similarities is 1:1 graphics, as-is sound effects, and controls that drip (more or less) with nostalgia. If nostalgia is your gaming thing, you won’t experience better than this port of R TYPE. Everything is perfect, in fact, too perfect. I wonder if it’s just an emulator wrapped nicely in an iPhone app. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was, but I’d be a bit disappointed.

R-Type looks like it did in the 1990’s, which for me, is mostly a good thing. There is no fiddling with over-ambitious redesign, or grand new perspectives. No, it still plays in sweeping fashion from left to right; there’re still nasty flying robots, still lots of power ups, and there is still a lot of frenetic action. You still chase baddies from level to level, making sure not to crash into them (or the walls) in a long battle to the end. There’re a handful and a half of badass bosses and loads of frustrating pixels to overcome. It’s the sort of adrenaline rush only a teenager (or former teenager) would understand.

Actually, because the controls are adapted for the iDevice, the action is even more frantic, that much more frustrating than ever. Whereas on the SNES, you had a painful plus sign to jiggle, on the iDevice version, you have to manage ethereal buttons, a crazy tilt control system and a uber-fast swing touch. Sure, there’s less pain, but controlling your ship is much harder than before. The control pad does a decent nob of detecting where you meant to have tapped, but it isn’t perfect. Nope. It’s slow and easy to mistake. The tilt control is neither slow nor perfect, but the real crazy one is the swing touch. Where you had to click-click-clikc or click-and-hold to move one lazy pixel at a time with the virtual touch pad, the swing touch method practically warps you across the screen, and under the most feared foe of them all: your thumb. Mark my words, as fast and agile as you will become with swing touch, you will always miss some vital thing on the screen, often that thing being your R-9a Arrowhead! Still, considering you practically cheat with such agility, there has to be at least one trade off.

come to papa!

Because the beep boop music of the original is preserved rather well, the only thing you can really complain about is simplicity. R-Type’s maestro wasn’t the most creative of people but then, that doesn’t really matter in a straight port now does it? Of course, if you get itchy for John Denver, you can fire up your iPod library.

The R TYPE tutorial

In the end, R-TYPE does what it came to do: blast alien balls like no one’s business. It is a great game, but it fails here and there. Not, of course, IN its conversion. Its greatest failing IS its conversion. R-TYPE is too straight of a dash from its familiar past to its iDevice present. It would be nice if the two control schemes accommodated one another rather than completely unbalancing the act. Still, R TYPE is a fun space romp back to your childhood (or earlier) that is worth the price of admission.

App Summary
Title: R TYPE Developer: Electronic Arts
Reviewed Ver: 1.3.2 Min OS Req:
Price: $1.99 App Size: 11.14MB
  • 1:1 graphics and sound
  • Lots of fun shooting alien baddies
  • One of the best side scrollers
  • perfect clone of the original
  • Controls could be improved a lot
  • interpolated (fuzzy) looking graphics could be bettered


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