Voice Module








In Memory
Sean Pettibone


R-Type Command (PSP)

This is an excellent, engrossing real-time strategy title that takes the classic shooter into another realm. While it seems a little bit odd on the surface, the classic shooters were always quite strategic in their approach, and Command's turn-based structure doesn't seem as out-of-place because of it. R-Type Command's straightforward gameplay mechanics and simple menu structure makes it easy to understand and quite accessible. Controlling either side of the battle is a nice change of pace and the game can be surprisingly challenging, especially once you get to the later stages. Overall, R-Type Command is a successful genre switch that delivers an interesting change of pace.

Taking Irem's classic shooting series into the real-time strategy genre is a definite risk, but one that pays off with a solid game that stays true to the sprit of the series while breaking some new ground. R-Type Command's presentation follows that of the traditional horizontal shooters, with your ship facing towards the right, attacking the assembled Bydo foes in a completely different way. At the start of each round, you can select and place which units you wish to use on the screen. You can move your units around the grid by selecting the unit you want to use, them moving the cursor to the space where you want them to move. You have several types of units, the most important of which are Flagships. These large vehicles are the heart of your force and can be used to deploy, repair and supply the other unit types of the board. Your squad also needs a few fighters, which can attack from long range, bipedal mechs that can attack from close range. Each ship's range is displayed on screen, and players can also see the range attacks of the enemy as well which helps in planning. Knowing when to attack and trapping your opponents adds to the strategy, as much as blunt force is needed, you'll also need to use your head. Staying a few steps ahead of the rival force is a key to victory. This is especially true with R-Type Command, since the opposing forces will take immediate advantage of any mistakes. The game flow is fairly easy to understand, basically you place your ships, perform moves and attacks, then the game switches to the other side and the process repeats until one side is defeated. Most of the turns don't take too long, which gives R-Type Command a fast pace. It's not as fast as a traditional shooter, but goes by faster than the typical RTS title. This makes R-Type Command an engaging strategy title that offers plenty of depth, while not becoming inaccessible for those new to the genre. It's easy to navigate menus and straightforward command structure adds to its appeal.

In addition to using the attacking units in battle, players will also have to contend with resources management. There are an array of supply units and scouts that you can use to resupply and power-up your deployed units. To add firepower to nearby units, you can place a Force module next to a nearby unit, which acts similarly to the power-ups in the old shooters. There are many types of units within these main types, and their range, firepower and shields vary with each type. During each mission, the main goal is to attack and destroy any enemy ships onscreen before your squad is destroyed. Most of the tactics you can use are fairly straightforward, though a good strategy is to keep a few units forward to attack, but balance this out by keeping some close to your ships for defensive purposes. You can use a variety of other techniques, such as deploying decoy units that explode when an opponent comes near. In addition to these basic attack moves, you'll also need to use resource management to build and use additional items and weapons. Each time you destroy an enemy, you can send out scout vehicles that will help you in locating extra resources for your fleet. During each mission, players have a variety of commands at their disposal. They can choose to attach units to one another, sync up their attacks, resupply units on the field, repair damaged forces and other maneuvers. Once you have defeated an enemy unit you can choose to salvage any remaining resources from that sector. You can also liberate a captured facility and make it yours if you have defeated nearby foes. This all adds up to create an immersive R-Type experience that offers many layers of gameplay and strategy that should keep players engaged for quite some time.

While the type and range of units available for you is limited in the early stages and missions, more and different types become available as you clear stages. A complete listing would encompass more than 100 unique units, which should give players plenty of options. During your missions, you'll encounter many of the iconic R-Type characters during the game and can use the famous Arrowhead, Midnight Eve and Shooting Star vehicles in your attacks along with the force ball power-up to perform devastating attacks. You'll need to destroy the Bydo's forces including the famous alien Dobkeratops boss creatures. In addition, you'll face off against Baldur, Guaper and Zoydo creatures during your missions. One of the more interesting facets of R-Type Command is the fact that it lets you play as the alien forces for the first time, which is an interesting twist on the series. The game offers a fairly solid single-player mode, but players can also play head-to-head against other local players using the PSP's wi-fi internet connection, and wager their accumulated resources and items in combat. All of this makes for a surprisingly engaging title that takes the spirit of R-Type and successfully transports it to a new genre.

As you might expect, the game's presentation is somewhat different from a traditional shooter, though Irem and Atlus have done a good job in bringing the basic look and style of the series forward. While much of the action takes place on a somewhat static hexagonal playfield, there are many cinema sequences that help to break up the monotony somewhat. The visuals are nicely rendered with some cool renderings of the traditional R-Type vehicles and enemies. While this is probably going to be chalked up as an experiment for many gamers, this is a largely successful one that brings a new strategic spin on a classic shooting series and takes the cerebral action one-step further. It's a fun and engaging RTS title that delivers some challenging and deep gameplay, and feels especially tuned to the solo player. It's not what you've come to expect from the series and for that reason, R-Type Command isn't going to please everyone. Irem deserves praise for experimenting with such a well-known franchise and the result is an interesting and engaging title that's definitely worth a look for those who enjoy the R-Type series and want to see it from another perspective.
- Michael Palisano

Grade: B

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