Electronic Theatre In-depth Review: R-Type Tactics

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Electronic Theatre Image            The R-Type franchise will be familiar to the vast majority of regulars here at Electronic Theatre. Whether you’ve invested a good twenty years in the videogames industry or picked-up a Control Pad for the first time on a PlayStation2, there will no doubt have been an R-Type - or one of it’s many partisans – lingering somewhere nearby. The series has seen that many outings that it’s highly possible that a gamer could own several titles under the same header, yet with each playing intrinsically different within their Side-Scrolling universe.

            From the masterful Super Nintendo Entertainment SystemElectronic Theatre Image release of Super R-Type to that of the Game Boy Advance’s dismal attempt at recreating R-Type III in the palm-of-your-hand, numerous arcade releases, and that supposed last attempt at revival for the genre, R-Type Final on PlayStation2, R-Type has repeatedly changed the face of the Side-Scrolling Shoot-‘Em-Up. However, R-Type Tactics isn’t the traditional Side-Scrolling Shoot-‘Em-Up many may be expecting, and to Hardcore Gamers, the “Tactics” affix should reveal all the player needs to know. Typically associated with Turn-Based Strategy adaptations of familiar videogaming properties, R-Type Tactics is no exception to the formula. Irem’s latest R-Type outing (courtesy of Rising Star Games here in the UK), is a Turn-Based Strategy title set within the R-Type universe and, just as the series has done with Side-Scrolling Shoot-‘Em-Up genre, R-Type Tactics brings with it a handful of refreshing ideas.

            From-the-off, comparisons with the NintendoDS’s strategy-bastions Advance Wars titles are to be expected. However, unusually for a title in such direct competition with the series that has more-or-less claimed the genre as it’s own on handheld, R-Type Tactics doesn’t suffer at the hand of such comparisons. Following the traditional rules of controlling each unit one-at-a-time; moving, then shooting (or using an alternative action), before moving onto the next and eventually ending your turn, allowing your opponent to then utilise their units.

            Missions often revolve around simply destroying an enemy Flagship (which is the victory condition of your opponent, too) although variations do appear from time-to-time. One of the best additions to the formula is that of Boss Battles. While the Turn-Based Strategy genre isn’t known for it’s memorable Boss Battles, the Side-Scrolling Shoot-‘Em-Up genre most definitely is, and R-Type itself holds more impressive antagonists than most. These fantastical, screen-filling beasts return in startling form, providing some fantastic visuals and requiring balanced attack skills.

There’s an incredible amount of units available for the player to command, however, their construction is somewhat different to the traditional methods of the genre. While some Electronic Theatre Imageunits may be unlocked by completing Missions – as is typical with off-shoots from the Role-Playing Game genre, such as Final Fantasy Tactics Advance – most are added to a player’s Roster through use of the R&D option on the War Room Menu before battle. Unlocking Spoils through finding them during Missions or simply progressing through the Campaign will allow new units to be developed, and their construction demands Resources which are limited (mostly harvested during Missions).

R-Type Tactics retains a firm grip on its host series conventions, with the ability to tailor units with new weaponry and modules through Force Orbs and other additions. Enhancing existing properties of units, the addition allows the game to flow more akin to the likes of Final Fantasy Tactics Advance or Fire Emblem than Advance Wars.

As well as the units, under a player’s command, Pilots are available for commanding. When developing a new unit, a pilot must be assigned before it can be entered into you Roster. New Pilots unlock as progression is made, and fighting well in completed Missions will increase the Pilots abilities. However, falling at the opponents hands will decrease a Pilot’s ability. Pilots are available in three Classes; Captain, Squads and Forces, identifying which unit types they may command.

A feature included in R-Type Tactics that may not have been missed before its inclusion here, certainly will be should the genre continue without adding to its basic formula. The most basic of additions: an indicator of your opponent’s progress during their turn. Denoted as a bar and a percentage, such a simple, yet very much overlooked addition to the formula is very much welcomed here.

R-Type Tactics fits within it’s universe perfectly, with brilliantly rendered and recognisable representations of the Side-Scrolling Electronic Theatre ImageShoot-‘Em-Up’s aggressors and champions. The mid-battle Cut-Scenes are at first a pleasant display of your (or your enemy’s) prowess, but their disjointed lengthy Loading sequence soon becomes an irritation. It’s rather lucky then, that these sequences can be turned-off. The sound too is perfectly complimentary, without ever becoming an annoyance.

R-Type Tactics fills a hole on the PlayStation Portable. While many may think of UBi Soft’s Field Commander and all the work it did for the genre on PlayStation Portable, despite its playability, the lack of refinement and original ideas place the title squarely behind R-Type Tactics. Easily the best release on the system in the latter-half of 2008, and perhaps one of the most inventive yet to grace that high-quality screen, R-Type Tactics is quite simply the PlayStation Portable’s answer to Advance Wars, and does incredibly well to give that reputable series a run-for-it’s-money.Electronic Theatre Image

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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