When IREM said they were going to stop the R-Type franchise I was disheartened. When they announced they were going to adapt the storied shooter into a turn-based strategy game I was worried. Having played the demo, however, I can’t imagine any series outside of an RPG that would make for a better fit. I’ve played several R-Type games but never finished a single one and didn’t realized how epic the series has become over the years. Hundreds of ships, support craft, and enemies have crawled across the screen through the series’ eight titles, each capable of being expanded with attacks and stats to fit perfectly into a strategy game.
For starters, it’s refreshing to see a strategy game that doesn’t revolve around cute fantasy characters with big eyes decked out in neon outfits shooting magic at one another. The gameplay is hex-based all the way and the majority of the visuals are 2D. Tiny explosions and trademark weapons fire (who else could come up with a ring laser?) are the highlights, although like many strategy games nowadays there are fancy attack cutscenes. These can thankfully be turned off because while they look slick and flashy (all units and attacks are rendered in 3D) they take forever to load and just slow things down even more.
And believe me, you do not wanna drag this game out any more. I have yet to complete the third demo mission even after devoting my entire hour-long lunch break to it. Where the original shooters are fast and frantic R-Type Command is slow, methodical, and crushing. It also doesn’t help that the Save feature is disabled in the demo. Harrowing play times aside I’m really enthralled with the game. All the famous ships, enemies, and weapons bring a smile to my face in much the same way that seeing R.O.B. the Video Robot appear in Super Smash Bros. Brawl does. The big difference here is that I’m actually enjoying R-Type Command’s gameplay and its approach to the strategy genre. Come May 6th this may be the first PSP game I buy that isn’t on clearance.