SNES A Day 10: Super R-Type

super_r-type_us_box_art

Approximate Release Date: September 1, 1991
Genre: Side-scrolling shooter
Developer: Irem
Publisher: Irem

The lack of in-stage checkpoints really makes me not want to play more Super R-Type.

This is what my experience was for the first several lives: I start a game, breeze through the mindlessly easy first level, reach the boss, get creamed almost immediately when it runs me over. I then start at the beginning of the stage. Repeat. This wouldn’t be so bad except for two reasons:

  1. This first stage is boring. It’s only about three minutes long, but nothing interesting happens except at the end when a robot shows up and tries to murder you.
  2. I died so quickly to the boss, I didn’t learn anything except he may bumrush me at any moment. I had no doubt I could beat this boss, and I did. But Super R-Type didn’t leave me with a great first impression. Turns out the top-left corner is a safe zone where the boss can’t hit you.

This happens in stage two as well. Getting to the boss is simple. But said boss has a poorly telegraphed attack that seems designed to kill new players; once the weak point opens up, it waits a few beats and then fires a gigantic laser beam from it with no warning. Once you know the trick, and once you’ve slogged through the level again, the boss is a piece of cake.

This is a poor way of making a difficulty curve. Ideally, when a player is defeated, the player both feels like it was their fault for dying and learns something to prevent it from happening again. When only one of these exists, it causes problems. Without learning, the player may not understand why they reached the fail state. With only learning, the game may feel cheap or unfair, like the player never had a chance.

Super R-Type falls in that second category.

It’s a shame, because I like a lot about Super R-Type. Your ship has a neat design, and I like how the main gun can charge up to two levels for more damage and a larger spread. Most of the enemies in the first few stages are rather generic, but there are some creatures that looked ripped right out of the Aliens movies.

Maybe the game gets better. But given the problems above, and the fact the game has crippling performance problems when enemies swarm on screen, I can’t recommend Super R-Type. Play Gradius III instead.

Tomorrow: Gear up for yet another shooter with U.N. Squadron.

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