R-Type Dimensions should be the blueprint upon which all other remakes/re-releases should be judged. Although falling just short of perfection thanks to a visual upgrade that, while impressive, endeavours to be somehow rather forgetful, R-Type Dimensions is still a package that has clearly been put together with a great deal of love and affection for the original source material.
Delivering a visually upgraded, but nonetheless pixel perfect port of both R-Type and R-Type II, Irem, Tozai and Southend have come together to create a rather brilliant package that caters to the tastes of both the hardcore and the casual.
For those looking to approach R-Type Dimensions with an eye on perfecting each level and climbing the leaderboards, Dimensions will deliver as solid a challenge as you’re likely to find on XBLA. With a host of enemies eager for your blood and level design that punishes even the slightest mistake, R-Type and R-Type II remain two of the most challenging side-scrolling shooters ever created. These are games in which success is completely dependent upon memorisation, trial and error and a very skilled thumb. There is no hand holding here, each and every mistake is paid for with your life. It only takes one bullet or a single graze against the unforgiving environment to bring on the cold embrace of death.
While the Arcade Mode and player collision co-op (warning: don’t play near windows) will deliver the challenge that the hardcore are looking for, Infinite Mode does make the whole experience more palatable for newcomers. This mode gives the player infinite lives to work with, allowing even the most unskilled of gamers to grind their way through to the end credits. There’s little glory to be found in this mode, but if you wish to experience R-Type Dimensions without the pressure of limited lives and continues, this is the mode for you.
On top of Infinite Mode, there is the option to play the game inside an 80’s style arcade cabinet. While the gameplay remains the same, it’s a nice touch on the part of the developers, even if it doesn’t work quite as well in practice as you would have hoped. With the camera inexplicably moving with your inputs, playing in this mode can become a surprisingly nauseating experience – a real shame given just how cool this mode actually looks.
As the new visuals have literally been painted on top of the original sprites, hardcore gamers will be happy to hear that this is a perfect re-creation of the 80’s gameplay that so many of us grew up with. The enemy patterns are the same and the environments are just how you remember them. This is still all about charging your shots, collecting basic power-ups and careful use of the spherical force devise that can be picked up at certain points of each stage. This handy devise attaches to the front or back of your ship for extra firepower or can be detached to work as a deadly satellite to give your attacks greater range. It’s an ingenious weapon and one of the many reasons that R-Type and its fantastic sequel are still so highly regarded over 20 years after their original release.
The new visuals might not have impressed quite as much as I would have hoped, but the option to switch between flat, HD upgraded visuals and a tilted 3D image is a very nice touch. By pressing Y at any point in the game, the camera will tilt to the side and bring the game into the third dimension. It doesn’t add a great deal to gameplay but this seamless change between the two gives the player a quick fire choice between going old school and trying something new. I actually found it easier to play in the original 2D, but I must admit that the 3D view does look decidedly cool, even if it does make some of the trickier levels even harder to navigate.
1200MS Points might be a big ask, but it’s clear that a lot of love and care has gone into the development of R-Type Dimensions. If you’re the kind to blitz through on Infinite Mode, happy to move on once you’ve seen the final credits, the asking price might be a tad high, but for those looking to master this most unforgiving of beasts, R-Type Dimensions will prove worthy of every point spent.
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