It may not have been the kind of high profile name that many were looking forward to, but R-Type Final 2’s release by NIS America was high on our list of most eagerly anticipated games for months now. It’s out for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch and PC right now, and is fully compatible with all of the next/new generation consoles as well. Here’s our review, based on the PS4 version.
So why our excitement? Well, when it’s about the classic arcade formula of the horizontally scrolling shoot ’em up, R-Type and Gradius always jump out at us as two of the all-time great franchises. For both, it’s been about 15 years since we had a proper new release, so that alone was reason enough to mark R-Type Final 2 as one to look forward to. Sure, we’ve played and enjoyed games like Sine Mora, but it’s always nice when one of the games that inspired it makes a comeback.
Enter R-Type Final 2, a sequel to (you guessed it) R-Type Final, which launched on the PlayStation 2 back in 2004 in the west. The idea of doing a sequel first surfaced on Kickstarter back in 2019, when the campaign reached over double its funding goal. Unfortunately the stretch goal to recreate the iconic first level of the original R-Type wasn’t met, but there was still plenty to be excited about when NIS took over publishing duties for the game.
And as per the norm within this franchise, R-Type Final 2 isn’t about lightning quick responses to the on-screen action. When R-Type came out back in 2017 arcade hardware wasn’t ready to scroll highly detailed visuals across the screen at high speed, so instead players had to weave through and take down gorgeously detailed enemies and bosses. Remembering the attack patterns and boss strategies is still crucial, as is the effective use of your Force Pod as a shield. A tiered weapons system adds an almost tactical element to the game as well, and unlike the gameplay in the original R-Type you can also tweak your ship’s speed to help you navigate easier or move out of the way quicker.
Getting through one of R-Type Final 2’s levels is a carefully balancing act between all of the aforementioned controls, no matter which spaceship (there are literally dozens) you take into battle. As you’d expect, this is yet another shooter in the R-Type franchise where completing a level actually feels like somewhat mastering it – and overcoming an uphill battle. As you learn the attack patterns of enemies and boss, and remember where and when they’ll fly into the screen, you’ll progress further and further – and finally beating that level feels extremely rewarding as a result.
Visually, R-Type Final 2 looks good with its Unreal-powered graphics, though it’s not the leap forward for the genre that we had hoped for. Sine Mora felt like a jump forward when it launched on the Xbox 360, but that was almost ten years ago. Gradius V did the same for me seven years prior to that, and I had been hoping R-Type Final 2 was going be another landmark.
Instead, it’s a solid entry that brings the franchise to the present era, but fueled mostly by nostalgia. It doesn’t push the envelope technically and doesn’t bring any gameplay innovations to the table, but anyone who backed (or closely followed) the Kickstarter probably did so out of a fondness for what came before. All of those people are going to be more than satisfied, as this is another classic R-Type game that we’ve waited far too long for.