Review – R-Type Final 2

Overview

Developer Granzella
Publisher NIS America
Genre Shooter
Platforms PC (reviewed), Nintendo Switch, PS4, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S
Release Date April 29, 2021

I fancy myself a fan of shoot ‘em ups (SHMUP). Now I shall jeopardize my authoritative voice as a connoisseur of the genre by confessing that I have played many SHMUPs, but never R-Type. Yet, when I learned that R-Type Final 2 had concluded development after two crowdfunding campaigns, I thought that now would be as good of a time as any to dip my toe into the franchise for the first time. What I learned is that this game was designed specifically for R-Type enthusiasts.

Content Guide

On the hardest difficulty, this is the first boss. This is also as violent as the game gets.

R-Type Final 2 is a SHMUP featuring mostly mechanical units and insectoids. Gamers will not find material that they might find objectionable here. 

Review

Same boss, but on a lower difficulty. Not even close to full power.

R-Type Final 2 opens with a meager narrative explaining how humanity was once on the brink of extinction in a war against bioengineered weapons called the Bydo. An elite pilot would emerge from the Space Corps and deliver a crushing blow to the hostile forces with their subspace ship. And…that is all. Granted, one should not expect Pulitzer Prize-winning writing for a SHMUP; this game’s genre sets the expectation for a satisfying deluge of enemies, an assortment of weapons, and a memorable OST. Does R-Type Final 2 deliver these things?

Yes, and no, for the keyword here is “satisfying.” As this is a SHMUP, and the objective of every SHMUP is as simple as shooting everything on the screen until it is on the screen no longer, I jumped right in. Mistakes were made, for I assumed that a video game released in 2021 with an MSRP of $39.99 would feature either a dedicated tutorial mode or learn-as-you-go tooltips demonstrating for me in real-time the unique features of
R-Type. Nay; three hours of expectantly difficult gameplay later, I referenced the boring manuals from the main menu that explained a few key gameplay features. 

Notice the Force equipped to the rear of the ship? On stage 7, this is necessary as the enemies approach from behind.

The most important is a power-up called the Force. No, not that Force, but technology developed from Bydo remains. What I learned about this orange-ish spherical spacecraft attachment is that it is detachable, installable on either side of a ship, and can block certain types of enemy attacks. The Force is upgradable via red, blue, or yellow power-ups, though its power level is frustratingly unreadable, so I cannot tell when, or if, I ever achieve full power. A consistent, though unfortunate tendency in R-Type Final 2 is the frequency in which aspects of the game are ambiguous.

Notice how in the ship selection hangar, all craft are indicated by some sort of Dewey Decimal system. One has to highlight a ship to see its codename, which is illegible at first.

A key example of this is the R Museum. At first glance, it would appear to be a simple gallery, but R-Type Final 2 features a dedicated gallery with disappointingly low-resolution images. In actuality, the R Museum is where one unlocks additional ships. Thus, this “showroom” is where players procure their real power spikes, as I discovered while reading the text accompanying the selection of a ship. Again, this is another area in the game that would be improved with modern quality-of-life features that would help newcomers interpret ship power. After testing a mere dozen out of the 99 that are allegedly possible to unlock, a subsequent ship in a line is not always necessarily more powerful than its predecessor.

This was unlocked via password. Probably a Kickstarter perk.

R-Type Final 2 begins with the R-9A Arrow-Head unlocked: the standard-issue space corps craft that, when charged, shoots a projectile that fires an energy shot reminiscent of a Hadouken. Boring, though I wish I could take its secondary fire weapon, homing missiles, over other bombs that drop straight down or at a hard-to-aim arc on other, better ships. The R-9E series of ships occupy a place in my heart, beginning with the Midnight Eye. Because its charged shot is a large, circular explosion rather than projectile-based, it is essential for stage 4 where several enemies are immune to forward fire, but vulnerable to AOE. 

The R-9E3 Sweet Luna reminds me of the USS Enterprise. 

My favorite ship series in the game thus far is the R-9D line, beginning with the Morning Star. These ships sport mounted railguns, reminiscent of the iconic Metal Gear, though instead of a nuke, these ships shoot a large, screen-eviscerating beam that can be (over) charged up to four times for longer-lasting rays of evisceration—impractical except for boss encounters, but awesome to see. Derived from the R-9D line is my favorite ship in the game, the R-9 DH3 Concertmaster because it sports the largest gun.

Too bad I have not been able to return to this stage. It features captured versions of the Space Corps fleet that shoot back.

So far, I have only mentioned one stage. R-Type Final 2 technically features seven stages. I say “technically,” because according to the mission selection screen in score attack mode, I am still missing three missions despite defeating the final boss and watching the end credits roll. By the time I had played the game for three hours, I had finally scratched and scraped my way to stage 7, but exhausted my continues before the boss encounter. Because I did not finish the stage, it did not unlock as an option in score attack mode. Currently, I have stages 1-5, 6.2, and 7.2 unlocked; I know I am missing 6, 7, and another unknown mission. How did I unlock 6.2 and 7.2 instead of 6 and 7? I have no idea; this is yet another example of R-Type Final 2’s frustratingly opaque approach to exposing gamers to its content. 

I took this screenshot on my laptop running a 1060 at 1080p. Looks like a mobile game.

The prevalence of R-Type Final 2 foregoing quality of life features makes its $39.99 asking price an exercise in audacity, especially when there are already two $3.99 DLC packages available for purchase. What R-Type Final offered in 2003 might have been considered acceptable during the PS2 days, but in 2021, developers and IP owners of big-name SHMUPs like R-Type must reconsider what modern audiences expect in terms of value. In ye olden days, SHMUPs extended gameplay time with controller smash-worthy difficulty, and that was satisfactory for a short game. But modern shooters have adopted roguelite features such as randomized, procedural layouts and rewarding players with unlocks even upon failure; this combination generates dozens of hours of gameplay. In contrast, with R-Type Final 2, once one learns enemy patterns, replaying levels to grind the nondescript resources used to unlock additional ships in the R Museum is a chore. Turning toward score attack mode, where every ship begins a run fully-powered, and increasing the game’s difficulty only brings temporary relief to the tedium.

I certainly do not want to SEE where devs have already planned DLC, when the base game is already bare-bones!
Because of this, R-Type Final 2 strikes me as a game almost exclusively for enthusiasts, for Granzella Inc. has accomplished the bare minimum compared to what I have come to expect for a modern SHMUP—the OST is forgettable, the intro cinematics are unnecessary, and the ship/pilot customization is a misuse of resources that could have been invested into more stages and more enemies. This game might be a dream come true for hardcore R-Type fans looking for a nostalgia injection, but general SHMUP fans will want to exercise caution.

Review copy generously provided by NIS America.

The Bottom Line

 

R-Type Final 2 is a throwback of shooters from 20 years ago; for premium pricing, we expect more.

 

6.0

Maurice Pogue

Since picking up an NES controller in 1985 at the age of 2, Maurice and video games have been inseparable. While most children aspired to be lawyers, doctors, or engineers (at the behest of their parents), he aspired to write for publications such as EGM, PC Gamer, PC Accelerator, and Edge. After achieving ABD status in English at MSU, Maurice left academia and dedicated his writing to his lifelong passion. He is currently the Video Game Editor at Geeks Under Grace.

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