What the hell is an “HE System”?
I know I know… Hudson Entertainment!

Since we’re not going to be covering R-Type on The Video Game Years, I figured I’d at least review a version of it over here in my tiny corner here on RetrowareTV. R-Type was an arcade shooter developed by IREM and distributed by Nintendo in the US. Back before the TurboGrafx-16 came out in the US of A, the PC Engine had it’s own port of R-Type in Japan.  Previously R-Type was available only on the Sega Master System which is odd since Nintendo was the distributor.

However, there was a problem with R-Type on the PC Engine:  It was simply way too awesome to fit on one HuCard!  At the time there was a law in Japan stating how much awesome was allowed to be on a single HuCard and R-Type exceeded that by a factor of 2. Rather than sacrifice some of the awesomeness, IREM decided to split the game up across two cards, the first four levels on one and the last four levels on the second.  Both cards would be sold separately at an equally high price.  When the TurboGrafx-16 was released in the US, the top scientists around the world finally figured out how to pack all of that awesomeness onto one HuCard and the game was released that way here. The US did not have any laws stating how much awesomeness could be packed onto a single “TurboChip” and many player’s TurboGrafx-16s nearly exploded because it was not designed to handle all of that awesomeness all at once.

But Japan never got the unseparated version of the game.  So that’s when IREM got the bright idea that all of that awesomeness could probably fit on one PC Engine CD.  And they were right! Japan only had awesomeness laws about HuCards, not CDs. They even added some cut scenes and CD quality music.  They then unleashed it upon Japan as the “Complete” version of the game.  Unfortunately the word “Awesome” is nowhere on the box, even though you’d think it would be.

 

Those are some pretty weird aliens if they build crap like this.
“Hey guys lets build a set of guns that all point at each other!”
“Yes, that would be wise.”

Graphics: 8/10
The graphics are exactly the same as the card version of the game, which was pretty dang close to the arcade.  Of course it only had one layer of scrolling due to the limitation of the PC Engine hardware.  Actually level 5 has two layers but they don’t overlap each other so they’re effectively the same layer.  Everything looks great and is well drawn.  Personally I think the first R-Type is, by far, the best looking R-Type with the best design.

I love the organic and very alien feel to many of the levels and enemies. There’s a little teeny bit of slowdown here and there, and there’s A LOT of flicker, unfortunately.  That brings the graphics score down a notch.  Small bit of trivia: The US version of R-Type on the TurboGrafx-16 runs at slightly less resolution than the Japanese PC-Engine version of the game in an effort to reduce the flicker as much as possible.The Japanese version is 352 pixels wide whereas the US version is 320 wide but you’d be hard pressed to notice the difference in either visual quality or the amount of flicker.

This CD version seems to compromise at 336 pixels wide. The brand new cut scenes they added look pretty cool and are partially animated.  They don’t look as cool as Y’s cut-scenes or anything, but they are par for the course for a 3rd party PC Engine developer back in that time.

 

One of the coolest looking bosses ever!
Too bad he goes down in like 2 seconds.

Sound: 8/10
The sound effects are all the same from the card version of course, but the music is now streamed straight from the CD as redbook audio.  We now get to listen to techno-dance versions of the familiar R-Type tunes which are kind of off-putting at first, but grow on you in an odd sort of way.  But no matter what, it’s better than the arcade music by a factor of 9.3.  The music in the arcade version was tinny and horrible sounding and even the Sega Master System version of the game sounded better.  Obviously the cut-scenes have full voiceovers in Japanese, so if the acting is poor I certainly can’t tell.  Not too shabby!

 

The new cut-scenes that are between every
other stage will BLOW YOU AWAY!  Or maybe not.

Gameplay: 8/10
Well, it’s R-Type.  While the first game is definitely my favorite version of R-Type, I kind of get bored with it after stage 5.  The stages after that are all pretty uninteresting compared to the awesomeness of the first five stages.  But that doesn’t mean the entire game isn’t great. It’s one of the most influential shooters ever in my opinion and way better than Gradius. Granted, you still get set back a ways when you die but the game is designed in a way where you no matter what you have the ability to get past any obstacle with the weapons provided.

It can get frustrating for some but for me it’s one of those games that’s more challenging than frustrating. By that I mean it keeps me coming back again and again to get past that part I keep dying at because I know I can figure it out! That’s not something I can say with the likes of Gradius. I only play Gradius for the music, anyway. My favorite version of R-Type is still the US TurboGrafx version but this version is great as well. It just adds some loading time, cut scenes which I don’t really feel add much and some goofy dance music. But hey if you like that stuff then check this out!

 

The boss design in R-Type kicks ass.

Wrap up:
All of the awesomeness contained on one CD! Thank you science!