If youve played an R-Type shooter before, from the 15-year-old original arcade game right down to the recent PS1 R-Type Delta, you know what youre getting here. Final doesnt mess with the formula, it celebrates it: the force pod you can attach to your ship for extra defense or fire off to attack on its own, the different levels of three laser power-ups, the gigantic pattern-based bosses, even the big-ship stage where you spend a whole level attacking different parts of one gigantic craft. All that under a fresh coat of paint is fine with me; shooters have hardly improved upon the R-Type template in the last decade. What Final does add is some variety. Along with five difficulty levels, the different characteristics of the 100 ships you can unlock each with its own power-up effects, missiles, and other options to choose from deepen and lengthen the game. You can customize your ships to fit the particular challenges of each level or even program their A.I. and watch as they fight between each other in the odd versus mode. (Quite lame, actually, but a quirky bonus so Ill give Irem points for simply trying.) The $30 price tag just seals the deal.
Underwater flying, several sweet detachable gun bits, a traditional stage-long battleship encounter...Final is an R-Type fanatics dream and the best thing to happen to side-scrolling shooters since G-Darius (PS1). New ships and a somewhat awkward versus mode expand the genre and round out the satisfying solo game. R-Type only suffers on technical issues: Slowdown often drags action to a crawl (an artificial aid lasers are easier to dodge in slow-mo), even though the graphics are sometimes more PS1.5 than PS2. But whether youre an old R-Type fan or a total newbie, its a must-buy.
It saddens me to think this may be the last new taste of R-Type we ever get. Final definitely takes the storied franchise out on a high note, with more than 100 ships to unlock and a solid dose of the classic, thinking mans shooter game-play that R-Type fans love. Level designs are a bit weak compared to past R-Types, but the variety and replay value here more than make up for it. A must-own for shooter fans.