There was a bit of a scare when Activision UK packed their bags recently and disappeared into the realms of history -yes, it was sad to see such a famous and long established name go down, but more to the point what would happen to the various projects they'd commissioned? For a while it looked like many eagerly awaited games wouldn't see the light of day at all, but slowly they started to crop up with various other publishers - Exile at Audiogenic, the upcoming Realms and 3D Snooker at Virgin - and the Activision name itself resurfaced under the protective wing of Paris-based The Disk Company.
And now the first releases from the new Activision are starting to come out -Beast Busters (see elsewhere this issue) and this one, R-Type II. It'll be coming your way in the late summer, and if I were you I'd start saving my pennies up right now, because this is simply the best arcade game I've seen on the Amiga in my life. Not only that, it's just about the best one I ever expect to see, because I can't imagine how a coin-op could be converted better than this. But back to the start.
R-Type II was the arcade sequel to one of the most popular scrolling shoot-'em-ups in the history of video-gaming, and on first appearance was the subject of some disappointment. The look and feel of the game was very much that of the original with a few largely cosmetic tweaks - it seemed more like extra levels to the first game than anything else - but on playing it it became clear that this was a superb game in itself. It was nonetheless only a minor success, and you won't see too many in arcades these days.
What could be more fortunate, then, than the news that Activision were producing an Amiga version for you to play in the comfort of your own home? Well, plenty of things if it turned out like so many coin-op conversions - a half hearted attempt at a quick cash-in from the legions of arcade devotees who'll buy the name first and worry about the quality of the game later. It hasn't of course, but why? So just what is it that's so damn good about this one?
Ooh, pretty much everything, really. This might sound silly but I can't think of a single thing that's wrong with R-Type II, at least not if you take it for what it is, a coin-op conversion. (Rather than moaning, say, about a lack of depth or new ideas or any of that old guff. And anyway, Rainbow Islands was a coin-op conversion, and it's the best Amiga game ever - official - so there just isn't a problem there.) Purely on those terms, you'd have to give it 100% because as far as I can see it's flawless. Of course, since this is AMIGA POWER (and also seeing as this is the real world), it's not going to get 100%, so let's have a go at seeing where it does lose some marks.
NIT PICKING AND HAIR
Okay, well first off there's the difficulty. R-Type II is undeniably a tough old bast of a game, and it's a level of toughness that may well deter 50% of Amiga game players straight away. Level one isn't too bad, but to get very far through level two you're going to have to be very good, very persistent, and very lucky, all at the same time. Personally I think the difficulty is judged just right (I'm sick of games that you can finish in a day, or ones that give you infinite or ridiculously high numbers of credits, so that completing it is a test of endurance rather than skill), but some people won't like it, so a couple of marks off there.
Next comes the equally undeniable familiarity with the first R-Type. Again I personally like it. I think it gives a feel of continuity, but there are people who will feel it's simply unimaginative. One mark off for that. There's also the fad that - close as it is - it isn't an exact physical representation of arcade R-Type II. The screen isn't quite as deep, limiting the play area (most noticeable on level three) and coupled with the fact that everything's slightly slower it actually makes certain sections of the game noticeably harder to complete. Two marks off there.
More worryingly, there seem to be a couple of minor bugs. When playing the game with a hard drive plugged in, some of the aliens can be caught right in the middle of a full-force explosion, yet when the dust clears they're still alive. This caused a bit of a problem once with the end-of-level two boss, and (although it happened only once) it would still be incredibly annoying if it happened to you, especially considering what a bitch level two is to get through anyway. On the very rare occasions when it does crops up, this is a serious flaw, so five marks down for that.
Second episode of the famous R-Type game. This horizontal shooter took all the good points from R-type and improved every aspect of them to make a great shoot'em up. This game is one of the best shoot'em ups on the amiga.
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