R-Type Final 2 review: a By-do gone era returns

There was a point in time that hardcore shooters were making a dent in the mainstream gaming market. Alas, many thought that time has passed in the face of the AAA stream that we’re seeing nowadays, but, surprise, you can’t keep a good “shmup” down thanks to entries like Rolling Gunner and Crimzon Clover.

Now, following the success of Tozai Games’ amazing R-Type Dimensions, we’re seeing the return of Irem’s legendary series with R-Type Final 2, based on a Kickstarter success launched by the team at Granzella. It’s a hefty gamble, considering that the original Final for PlayStation 2 made everything so, um, finalized. (Yep, another gaming franchise that proves the word “final” isn’t exactly final.) But it’s mostly paid off, with a frantic, exciting shooter that offers some fun old-school thrills, even if it’s not entirely the best-looking game out there. Hey, any chance we get to blast the Bydo Empire to smithereens, we’ll happily take it.

The game once again has you facing off against dangerous alien enemies using whatever power-ups you can get your hands on. These include lock-on missiles and firing techniques that range from coordinated circle lasers to bouncing beams that make it relatively easy to blast enemies around corners. You can power-up however you choose, and the game even lets you customize your loadout, as well as select from unlocked ship models. Some vary in terms of what firepower they deliver, but the general goal is the same. Still, neat idea.

What’s important here, however, is the general nature of R-Type – and I’m happy to report that’s still very much intact. Final 2 is a lot of fun to play, and quite challenging if you turn up the difficulty. However, if you’re a newbie, you can also find quite a bit of mileage from the “practice” and “kids” difficulty settings, though you’ll still have your work cut out for you when it comes to dodging dangerous plasma beams and incoming fire.

What makes R-Type stand out is the utilization of your capsule, which helps you maintain your strong firepower, or can also be jettisoned loose to fire in out-of-reach places. It reattaches and disattaches with ease, and also shields you from smaller bullets – something that’s a saving grace if you try to keep your run going. You’ll embrace its techniques as you continue onward, and become that much of a better R-Type player.

Visually, R-Type Final 2 mimics the original PlayStation 2 game to an extent. There are 3D backgrounds and some well drawn enemies, but the design is hardly what you’d call revolutionary. In fact, on the Nintendo Switch, it’s about on the same level as R-Type Deltawhen it comes to graininess. On the PlayStation 4, however, it’s much smoother, with a 60 frames per second framerate. Both versions look good, though, and depending how you want to play – at home or on the go – they make for a strong addition to your “shmup” library.

For good measure, the music is good. Not amazing like the original R-Type soundtrack, mind you, but still well composed with some great synths playing throughout each battle. It matches the tone of what R-Type is all about for the most part, so little to complain about there.

How much mileage you get out of Final 2 truly depends on your fandom of the series. There are a lot of ships to unlock here; and the game is a meaty challenge if you go all the way up on the difficulty scale. Otherwise, just keep in mind that it’s a shmup, and you’ll likely get through the meat of its content after a few runs. That may make the $40 price tag a bit hard for some to justify.

But I digress. R-Type is back and that is what really matters. The team at Granzella have done a great job capturing the nature of what makes the series click with Final 2, as it’s a blast to play and keeps most of its fundamentals intact. And it may not look the best at times, but it’s still a decent example of how to make a “shmup” appear in these modern times. It’s a game that delivers on its Kickstarter hype, especially for those that have been dying to see the series make a return.

Now then…about that Gradius revival…

RATING: 8/10

Rigid Force Redux Xbox One review: another shmup for your collection

Know what series I miss? R-Type. Since its introduction in the late ’80s, Irem has continued to pump out quality sequels in this series, supposedly wrapping up with R-Type Final on the PlayStation 2 years ago. But since then, it’s continued to live on to some extent, thanks to the awesome remake of R-Type Dimensions and the in-production sequel of R-Type Final 2.

In the meantime, however, Headup Games and the devs at Com8com1 have created a spiritual successor that fans should love, even though it’s not entirely the same experience. Rigid Force Redux channels that fun, manic R-Type energy, but into a game that players of all ages and skillsets can enjoy. It’ll definitely hold you over as you wait for the next great shmup to arrive – and its $17.99 price point makes it more affordable than most.

Time To Save the Galaxy, Again

Two years after the game’s initial debut on Steam (as Rigid Force Alpha), the game has arrived in its final form on consoles and is better than ever. It’s got the typical storyline, as you venture out into a galaxy filled with trouble, tasked with saving it. But the way it tells this story is actually quite good, with stylish sequences and voice acting that lend some character to the overall package. You can skip past them if you wish, but the dev really went a good route here.

That’s a crapton of firepower.

It’s obviously the shooting that matters here tho; and Redux delivers it in spades. It’s a lot of fun to play, with a design akin to the newer R-Type games, featuring 3D visuals paired with 2D gameplay. It’s a formula that really works, especially when it comes to the intense boss encounters against all sorts of freakish aliens.

You’ll want to take in the tutorial if you can because the control system is rather neat once you learn what all it can do. This includes utilizing a firing system to its maximum intent, using some for shielding, and shifting your bullets where they’re needed the most. It’s R-Type-ish, but with its own creative approach. 

In addition, you can also suck up energy gems to activate a special supercharged blast that can help you during the aforementioned boss fights. You can also use a Radiant Silvergun-style energy sword in case some enemies get a little too close. You’ll have to keep everything properly balanced, but it’s a real surprise how well it all comes together.

A Great Presentation, But the Length’s a Little Short

Com8com1 nails what makes a good presentation with Redux. The 3D visuals look dazzling on both the Xbox One X and the Nintendo Switch, even in portable form; and the explosive action doesn’t let up that often. What’s more, the power-ups are colorful and really pack a punch; and some of the later boss battles show great creativity.

All the visuals are nicely backed by a great soundtrack, performed by the team at Dreamtime. They really know how to put together a terrific set of “shmup tunes,” as it were, and you can hear the results throughout. Coupled with the great voice acting and effects, it’s a classic shooter experience.

It’s not Tattooine, but there’s still a lot of trouble in this sand.

Alas, the ride comes to a close all too soon, as Redux runs a little short on levels. There’s only six in all, which means you can pretty much beat this game in one sitting. All that’s left is trying to tackle it at a faster pace, as well as taking on extra modes like Boss Rush. But I would’ve liked this adventure to continue a little bit longer. Maybe that’s something we could ask for in a potential sequel.

It’s Just Our Type

If you’re a “shmup” fan or, better yet, someone who’s been aching to get some side-scrolling shoot-em-up action going along the lines of R-Type Dimensions, then you’ll love what Rigid Force Redux brings your way. It’s exciting to play, with innovative gameplay that tips its hat to the past and a presentation that can’t be beaten. It’s also got surprisingly big production value, despite being a second-tier title to the classic R-Type series. The ride ends all too soon, and there’s very little in replay value outside of bonus modes, but we suppose that’s just a reflection of shooters from the past. Don’t forget. With games like these, it’s more about the journey rather than the destination. And this is a great journey.

RATING: 8/10

Rigid Force Redux packs a punch as a full-on tribute to R-Type, complete with innovative gameplay and presentation.