R-Type Tactics PSP
Published by: Rising Star Games
Developed by: IREM Software
Release Date: Out Now
One of my favourite games on the Commodore Amiga was R-Type. The game, which arrived on the Amiga in 1989 but was originally released in the Japanese arcades back in 1987, was a classic 2D side-scrolling shooter in which you had to combat the alien race known as the Bydo. At the time the game was stunning and the game proved to be hugely popular. Over the years there have been many sequels, some of which have been rather poor. The last R-Type game we reviewed, R-Type Final was one of the better sequels however and was a very enjoyable game. R-Type Tactics however is quite a different experience from the previous R-Type games.
R-Type Tactics is a hex-based, turn-based strategy game in which you'll play as a commander of the Space Corps in a war against the Bydo Empire. You'll get to build and command a fleet of spacecraft as you try to preserve the human race. This is quite a departure for the series but it's certainly a good turn-based strategy title that's steeped in the R-Type universe. The game offers a lengthy single-player campaign and it also supports Ad-Hoc play for two players to compete against each other in skirmish battles. What the game doesn't offer, and it's rather a big disappointment, is a tutorial. Yes it does have a Rules section where you can find out about the finer points of the game (and the game manual does a fairly decent job of explaining the basics) but this in no way compensates for the lack of a tutorial, especially when the game is actually quite complex.
The single-player campaign offers around 60 missions in total and it will take a long time to complete. In between missions you'll get to carry out R&D creating new spacecraft, providing you have the resources available and assigning pilots to them. At the start of a mission you'll deploy your spacecraft and get to choose a flagship. Choosing a flagship is certainly important because should you lose it, you'll lose the mission. The missions in the game have a turn limit so you have to make sure you'll complete your goals within that turn limit. Whilst this can be annoying should you not complete your objectives within the turn limit, it does make a lot of sense and it prevents the battles from dragging on. Thankfully a mid-mission save feature has been included which is good news if you don't have time for a whole battle in one sitting.
The battles in R-Type Tactics are kept from being mundane by the amount of strategic options you have available to you. You'll have to keep your spacecraft supplied with fuel and ammunition. There are units known as Forces which can either attack on their own or be attached to other units to increase their firepower. Units have special commands that can be employed too, which really adds a lot to the experience. For instance, Transports and Re-supply crafts have the ability to create an explosive replica of themselves in order to divert enemy fire away from the real thing. There are various things to consider on the battle map itself such as mines and hazardous terrain which you can use to your advantage (and the enemy can use such things to their advantage too). All things considered then the battles are certainly far from dull affairs.
Visually, R-Type Tactics certainly isn't stunning. The battles are viewed from a top-down perspective on maps that certainly don't look anything special. Whilst your units are simply 2D sprites, you can choose to view a 3D view of an exchange during a battle if you wish (by default they are only shown occasionally) but it's something you may not wish to do more than once or twice because the battle sequences have quite long load times and it really breaks up the flow of the battle. In fact load times are a problem with the game and sometimes you will even have to wait for a menu selection to take effect as the UMD spins up. I should point out however that the game was reviewed on the original PSP model. It could be possible that these load times are not so long on the more recent PSP models as they have been allocated a small amount of memory to reduce UMD load times.
R-Type Tactics won't cause deaf gamers any problems. The story is told by showing you log entries, which are in text of course, and you'll get to read these at your leisure. All information in the game is displayed in text and numbers. There is a Rules section where you can find out about any aspect of the game and all of the information here is in text, which is actually quite important as the game provides no tutorial. The battle results are in text too. In fact there's little to complain about in regards to the game's deaf gamer friendliness.
IREM Software certainly took a gamble moving the R-Type series to a whole new genre but you have to say that it's a gamble that's paid off. R-Type Tactics is a solid turn-based strategy title and fans of that genre will definitely find the game enjoyable. The real question however is whether R-Type enthusiasts will be impressed by the switch from the speedy nature of the side-scrolling shooter to the slow and methodical nature of turn-based strategy games? R-Type fans who appreciate turn-based strategy titles will really enjoy the game however and it's well worth a look for strategy fans who wouldn't normally be interested in an R-Type game.