R-Type Final 2: Bydo their time

Is it R-Type of game? Ha ha ha. Ha ha.

Right! Let’s get this out the way, then. R-Type Final 2?! You can’t have a Final 2!! That makes it not Final!!! Ridiculous! (Is privately informed of the Final Fantasy series) HUUUUHHH??? (Steam comically spews from ears, hat elevates from head, revealing balding dome)

There we go, that’s the joke finished. Now I can get on with talking about R-Type Final 2, which is – yes – the sequel to the fairly middling R-Type Final as begrudgingly released on the PlayStation 2 in 2003. It retains the essential DNA of the R-Type series as we all enjoyed it from the PlayStation’s R-Type Delta onward; a mostly-horizontal shooting experience laced with environmental hazards and real creativity that goes beyond bullet curtain shooters. Which I don’t dislike, but I prefer a world to a stage, if that makes sense. Either way, the terrain, while hostile, won’t instantly kill you as in the likes of Gradius. You can scrap your little space ship up against jagged rocks to your heart’s content, just don’t hit any enemies or bullets. This is nice because it makes the proceedings into something more shooting-focused, rather than a cosmic game of Irritating Stick.

Never played an R-Type game? Sod off then. No, sorry, SORRY, I didn't mean it. Look, you traditionally take control of the R9-Arrowhead ship and do horizontal shooting through unbearably difficult stages, using a charged laser akin to Mega Man's own Mega Buster. The major gimmick is the Force Pod, a little thingy you can attach to the front or rear of your craft and use to deflect bullets or destroy enemies. You can also launch it out as a projectile (where it can fire its weapons while detached from you), then tap the button to summon it back. It's a very nice, versatile piece of kit and probably the best pod ever. Sorry, Anakin. Also, the aforementioned use of the Force Pod to absorb bullets fills up a little gauge helpfully labelled "Dose". Once this hits 100% you can unleash a screen-clearing death-dealing ULTRA MEGA BLAST that makes short work of anything. It's not actually called Ultra Mega Blast, that would be inane.

As with the original R-Type Final, the major draw here is a surplus of playable ships from all across the series. In the original game ships were generally unlocked as you accrued playtime using other ships, which was, let's face it, stupider than Resident Evil 6. Now it's been replaced with - don't freak out - a crafting system, which essentially amounts to using various minerals to "buy" new ships as you play the game. It's not as arbitrary as the time accrued thing, but it's still pretty arbitrary.

Oh right, the actual shooting gameplay. It's good - I like it. Visually it's pretty special, I'm very fond of the way your beam lights the environments. I never felt any cheapness to any of my deaths, though dying and restarting from checkpoints without my weapons could be a stinker as per the aforementioned Gradius, but R-Type veterans will be used to it.

It's basically R-Type Final, the first one, again. But I'd call it a little better, a little more worthy. It runs great, the stages and patterns are fun to learn and conquer. It's a good shmup that doesn't hit the heights of the original game, or R-Type 3, or Delta, which is probably the best one. Still, a not-as-good-as-the-best-one R-Type is still well worth your time.