STORY / GAMEPLAY
The story takes place somewhere in the 22nd century! You fly a futuristic fighter craft called the R-9a "Arrowhead". The craft's name is based on its shape and because it is the ninth model in the 'R' series of fighter aircrafts. The main mission is to blast and destroy the evil Bydo Empire (and its fleets). Basically, you have to shoot everything that moves -with most aliens shooting back at you while others just get on your way to instantly kill you upon contact. The backgrounds look like tunnels (or caverns) that have a "ceiling" and a "floor" outcropping in places! These can also be dangerous since you can easily crash your R-9a. Some of the sprites are pretty large, like the giant spinning wheel monster that awaits near the end of the first level where you actually have to get your ship inside it and shoot it in the eye to close its account. And be sure that there are a lot of even bigger (and far more difficult) alien monsters to confront! The rapid presses on the fire button produce standard laser bursts, but should you require a bit more firepower you must hold the button for 3 seconds to charge and blast a bigger shot which will pierce and kill everything into its range. It is absolutely necessary to also collect an extra bonus shield (a sort of a second aircraft) that shoots and can be unleashed to kill everything on sight. Overall, R-Type is extremely difficult (frustratingly difficult actually) since you can easily lose lives and -the worst of all- if you are shot down, you re-spawn at the beginning of the level (very unfair in my opinion)! Actually the whole game is unfairly tough!
GRAPHICS / SOUND
The graphics are fine and it is obvious that a great deal of care and attention has been taken over them. The MSX version is no exception here, apart of a few glitches due to its hardware limitations. This a pretty faithful conversion but although there are plenty of colors being used (in contrast to the CPC version), the MSX version suffers from the same issue as with most other side-scrolling games for the system. The background scrolling is incredibly choppy, which makes it hard to judge the speed of projectiles. It makes the game harder than it really is, and can potentially be quite frustrating! The sprites themselves are nicely designed and move beautifully and some of them are really big! Graphically the best conversion is the Commodore 64 though, which is smoother and with, by far, better detail and colors at the backdrops!
Sound and music are similarly effective. There is a spot effect for every single bullet/laser and explosions (especially when using the FM sound pack for the MSX), along with all original in-game tunes. Note that the Commodore's version is superior (of course) due to its SID sound-chip, while the CPC version is bad (a few dull in-game SFX and no music).