Retro Profile: Super R-Type (SNES)

The R-Type series is regarded by many as one of the biggest icons of the 2D Shooter. In 1991, developer Irem created Super R-Type to go alongside the launch of the Super Nintendo. It proved to be a fairly successful game, since it was basically the home console port of R-Type II. Personally, I’m a bigger fan of the Gradius series, but Super R-Type will always have a special place in my heart.

One of the first things that you’ll notice about Super R-Type is that it’s a fairly difficult game…even on “novice” or “easy” mode. You’ll have to constantly watch your back with the enemy fire coming at you from almost every direction. To help you out, though, is the Force entity that comes to your aid after you pick up the first weapon power-up. You can either have the Force fight alongside your ship, or you can attach it to the front or back of the R-9 to provide shielding from weak enemy fire. That also adds to the strategy that goes into this game because there will be times when your enemies will specifically attack you from the back end of your ship, and you might it find convenient to have your Force option guard your rear, rather than have it up front with you all the time. It’s very challenging to put that strategy into action sometimes, especially when you are in a narrow spot and you can’t get around your Force option…which will happen more times than a little bit.

The weapon selections are the same as the arcade version, for the most part. You have 5 types of “lasers” to collect, including the classic Reflect Laser (blue) which bounces off of any surface, and the Shotgun Laser (grey), a capsule-like laser that bursts into a small explosive cluster of energy. Certain weapons can be especially helpful in certain parts of the game. The Reflect Laser, for instance, is great in tight spaces since it bounces all over the place with very little vertical distance to travel. An of course, we can’t forget about my favorite of all—the Wave Cannon. I always liked the idea of fully charging it and watching the wave pattern that comes when you fire it. It’s really good for wiping out multiple weak enemies at once.

One of the major downsides worth noting about Super R-Type is the lack of a halfway point in any of the levels. As a result, I find the boss battles in particular to be a bit stressful because nothing is worse than fighting my through a level, only to be forced to start at the beginning if I get hit by a stray bullet. I hate being under that kind of pressure. Why there are no restart points in any of the areas is beyond me. Thankfully though, you have infinite continues, so it almost makes up for the omission…almost.

Play or Stay? For the most part, Super R-Type is a good shooter, especially as a Super NES launch title. However, the lack of any halfway points will only serve to frustrate players in the long run, which adds to the already sizable difficulty of the game. Despite those problems, though, I still do recommend that SNES owners give this game a whirl, as you can find it for less than $5 in most used game stores, or online. Unfortunately, Nintendo has not added it to the Virtual Console library of game yet, but I would imagine that Super R-Type will show up on there sooner or later. It just has to folks.

Jamie Alston is somewhat of an unusual gamer. While most people crave the visual delights that can be found in many of the current generation consoles of today, he actually prefers the 8-bit & “super 8-bit” (SNES) glory days of yesteryear. This is probably due in part to the fact that his brother chose the Nintendo Entertainment System over the Sega Genesis back in 1989…or maybe it had more to do with that time when he fell and hit his head on the blacktop in elementary school. Whatever the reason might be, Jamie has an undying love for those unnecessarily big cartridges he spent so many summer afternoons playing.When he’s not raiding trucks that “have started to move” for rations and key cards, he stays busy supporting his gaming hobby by working as a Policies & Procedures Analyst for a financial company in Baltimore, Maryland. And when he’s not working for “the man”, he’s working on the next retro review for the week. And when he’s not fighting off writer’s block and much needed sleep, he’s raiding trucks that “have started to”—well, you get the idea.Currently living in Randallstown, MD, Jamie sums up his life long dream this way:“If I one day find myself driving on the highway in a 2004 Honda Accord with an NES directional pad for a steering wheel, you can bet that I’ll be holding the up direction for that turbo boost on the straight-aways. That’s when I’ll know that I’ve finally made it in life”.