Okay, so there's something you need to know right at the jump.

Two things, actually.

First, the game started in Japanese for me. Assuming that doesn't get patched out, just mash through the player setup stuff, get to the main menu. Go to Options, go to the second entry down in System, and that's the language option so you can switch to English and actually play. (Over in "Pilot & War Record" you can change the pilot stuff if it bugs you.)

Second, okay, now that we're in the actual game. This is an arcade-ass game. This is hard. I literally have not been able to get past the second stage on Normal difficulty since I got this.

But that's how R-Type be sometimes. So let's talk about R-Type Final 2, and see if it lives up to that legacy.

History begins anew

So the R-Type series is one of those ones where just about every game has the same core root. So we gotta examine that core root a bit. One of the absolute classics of the genre, R-Type is that straightforward, straight-up space-based horizontal shoot-em-up. Like a lot of the games of this era, R-Type was built around a cool design concept, and a central gameplay gimmick.

Here, that design concept is freaky, deeply biological aliens reminiscent of the work of H.R. Giger. And as for the gameplay gimmick, you have the Force. Not the Jedi kind, but rather an indestructible object you can obtain that can be attached to multiple points on your ship, and either launched outwards or held onto. With its own firepower, and the ability to take on one of several weapons, the Force became critical to the game's strategies and part of its core identity.

Into the now

So what's changed since then? Well, I could be a bit unkind and say "not much"...But the real answer is that not much had to. These are games defined heavily by their use of certain specific design restrictions. But all that history does give R-Type Final 2 some interesting things to play with.

Right from the jump, the biggest thing is on display...The ability to take one of the classic ships, from an ever-growing selection, into battle. Each one has its own classic set of weapons, and while the basic gun is often the same? The charged-up Wave Cannon, the Special Weapon super-attack, and your Force's weapons are all going to be unique.

With more and more ships, you can soon find one that you settle into with a certain groove. And then comes the real challenge. The actual gameplay.

Fly free

You've probably played a horizontal shmup at some point in the past, and if you haven't, the core is super simple. 2D game, you can move freely around the screen while generally always facing to the right, enemies come in from various directions and try to shoot you, ram into you, or just maintain a pattern. It's one-hit kills, and unlike some other games in the genre, extra lives will do you no kindness in the field; you're still going back to the checkpoint, without any of your stuff.

This is the real secret to why R-Type Final 2 is so fucking difficult. Because your most central tool, the Force, is itself an upgrade, you always come in with a fresh life deeply underpowered. Even when the game's kind enough to give you upgrade pickups right after the checkpoint, you're still gonna struggle to get to them and get back to full power. (If there's even enough there to get back to full power, before you run into whatever killed you the last time)

Once you're moving, you've got only a handful of options to smooth out your navigation. The biggest one is the simple fact that you can tune your flight speed up and down. This lets you outpace certain problems, and outmaneuver others, but it's a tricky tool to utilize. And one made worse by the limits of a d-pad, let alone an analog stick.

Suffice to say, this is a game that I was glad to have an arcade stick to use with it.

The other big one, is the Force itself. Because it's indestructible, you can mount it on your ship as a battering ram, or launch it forward as an attack that can itself fire projectiles. The right powered up Force can act as a screen against all the minor enemies...But of course, then you're deeply vulnerable to anything that gets past it. Balancing these is the name of the game.

Oh, and all those impacts your Force takes are important, because they fill up your Dose gauge. Which needs to be at maximum to have your super attack.

And requires your Force to use.

You seeing the pattern, here? You're one hell of a glass cannon.

Conquer thy enemies

But that's all theory. How's the game feel in practice?

Fucking amazing. The ships move clean and smooth, the enemies are a delight to look at, every weapon just feels good on a base level (even if some of them are utter crap mechanically). It's the kind of game where you get mad when you die not because it was a bullshit death, but because you know you should've seen it coming and if you could just try again right there you wouldn't make the same mistake twice.

I'm gonna be real with you, this isn't a game for everyone. Not everyone wants a game where it's entirely about mastery and memorization, where you've got to completely internalize the bulk of the game to see the ending. Nor does everyone want a game that basically makes you start over from scratch every time you come in.

But if you want that? If you want that arcadey experience, to push you to your limits and make you learn it inside and out? Then R-Type Final 2 is sure one hell of an example of itself. And you'll have a great time with it.