R-Type Delta
  • Genre:
    • Shoot 'Em Up
  • Platform:
    • PlayStation
  • Developer:
    • Irem
  • Publishers:
    • JP Irem
    • US Agetec
    • UK SCEE
  • Released:
    • JP 11/19/1998
    • US 07/31/1999
    • UK 1999
Score: 80%

This review was published on 03/06/2018.

R-Type Delta is a side-scrolling shoot 'em up developed by Irem for the Sony PlayStation. It was originally released in Japan on November 19, 1998, North America on July 31, 1999, and Europe in 1999. The game was published in Japan by Irem, North America by Agetec, and Europe by SCEE, otherwise known as Sony Computer Entertainment Europe. While Delta is the fourth letter in the Greek alphabet, R-Type Delta isn't the fourth game in the R-Type series. By this point in time, the mainline series spanned five games: R-Type, R-Type II, R-Type Leo, R-Type III: The Third Lightning, and R-Type Delta. The first two titles began life as arcade games in the late 1980s before being ported to other platforms, while R-Type Leo released in the early 1990s and never left the arcades. Released in the mid 1990s, R-Type III was the first game in the series to start off on a home console, and it's wildly regarded by fans as the best entry. That's because it is the best entry. R-Type Delta isn't quite on par with R-Type III, but it's still pretty good.

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Set in a sci-fi world, the R-Type series is about mankind's seemingly endless trials with hostile aliens known as the Bydo Empire. Despite being the fifth game in the series, the story of R-Type Delta takes place shortly after the events of the original R-Type, where the Bydo Empire had been defeated by a lone trans-dimensional fighter called the R-9A Arrowhead. Everything was peaceful for a time, but then something unusual happened. Astronomers in Central Asia watched as strange objects began to fall from the sky. As the objects approached Earth, they shrank in size and vanished from sensors. The astronomers assumed the objects to be meteorites and paid them no further attention. Before long, the electronically controlled weapons systems in a number of cities went haywire and several abnormal heat signatures were detected by astronomers. Bydo influence caused control of the orbiting annihilation platform, Moritz-G, to be lost and it was subsequently unleashed upon Earth. It's now up to the test fighter, R-9A2 Delta, to resolve this emergency.

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During the late 1990s, video games were entering the realm of 3-D en masse. As such, it was inevitable that R-Type would make this jump, and that jump occurred with R-Type Delta. While R-Type III dabbled in 3-D, R-Type Delta is the first game in the series to be fully polygonal. Despite that, R-Type Delta retains the 2-D play style of its predecessors. It does, however, use the 3-D to tilt and pan the camera around in certain sections to make the action feel more cinematic. The graphics themselves are rather lackluster, though. Everything is way too dark and the textures are grainy. Musically, the soundtrack has a completely different style than previous games, which featured fast and catchy tracks. Here, the soundtrack is comprised of atmospheric techno tunes. It sounds good enough, but lacks a sense of urgency.

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As usual, you move your aircraft around using the d-pad and the buttons do all the other stuff. Under the default controls, holding the circle button will rapidly fire your main weapon, whereas holding the square button charges it. If the charge button is held down long enough, you'll fire a massively powerful shot. Hyper Mode, which was introduced in R-Type III, has been removed. This makes the charging mechanic more intuitive, but does so at the expense of some of the depth that the series is known for. In previous titles, you could only increase your speed via power-ups, and death was the only way to decrease it. This could potentially result in an issue where you'd have so much speed that it'd be nearly impossible not to fly into something. R-Type Delta solves this issue by allowing you to freely alter your speed with the L1 and L2 shoulder buttons. It's very convenient.

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If one is present, you may use the X button to attach or detach the Force pod. Like in most of the series, the Force pod is a, well, pod that flies alongside you, attaches to the front or back of your ship, shoots when you do, damages or destroys enemies it touches, and blocks some bullets. It's very useful, and R-Type Delta further enhances the Force pod's functionality with a new feature known as the Delta Weapon. Every time a projectile or enemy collides with your Force pod, the "Dose" gauge at the bottom left side of the screen will fill up. Once it's 100%, your Force pod will begin to glow, and you'll be able to use the Delta Weapon by pressing the triangle button. Essentially, the Delta Weapon functions as a bomb that affects every enemy on the screen. It's incredibly useful, but the Dose gauge will reset back to zero after you use it, so the Delta Weapon must be reserved for emergencies.

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Similar to how R-Type III lets you pick one of three Forces before starting the game, R-type Delta prompts you to choose one of three ships. They're the aforementioned R-9A2 Delta, RX-10 Albatross, and R-13A Cerberus. There's also a secret one that you unlock after beating the game on Medium or Hard. These ships don't just look different; they also have different functionality. Each ship has different charged shots, Force pods, Delta Weapons, and power-ups. The Delta is basically the standard ship, featuring the same Force and power-ups from the first couple of games. The Albatross is armed with the Tentacle Force, a Force pod with extendable tentacles you have indirect control over that can aim and fire in different directions. The Cerberus uses the special Anchor Force, which is linked to the ship via a malleable energy ribbon that can damage foes and shield you from bullets, but the pod itself can't shoot anything. Additionally, its charged shots have minor homing capabilities. As for the POW Armor, it's basically an enhanced version of the Delta. All these ships add some replay value and depth to the game, which is nice.

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Stages are the greatest asset of any R-Type game, and R-Type Delta is no different in that regard. The first stage is set in a ruined cityscape with a robotic worm that weaves in and out of the background in an attempt to destroy you. In the second stage, you dodge mechanical fish as they jump out of the water, and entering the water yourself causes the music to sound different. There's one stage dedicated to taking out a giant robotic walker, similar to the AT-ATs from Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. Another stage has you traveling up an orbital elevator, where enemies attack from above. The final stage is particularly wacky, as it's a dimensional vortex filled with babies encased in crystal, floating strands of DNA, chemical formulas, and pictures of astronauts. It doesn't get any weirder than that. The stage design isn't as tight as previous entries, but it's still stellar stuff.

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Unlike previous titles, R-Type Delta allows you to save your progress to a memory card. Besides storing your score and other miscellaneous information, this feature is used to remember what stuff you've unlocked. Similar to modern games, there's something like an achievements system in R-Type Delta, and clearing certain achievements will unlock additional content. Some of the unlockables are insignificant, like background images for the gallery. However, some of the unlockables are pretty worthwhile, like the aforementioned secret ship, or a stage select. A few of the achievements are pretty unreasonable, though. For instance, one requires that you play the game for a whopping 1,000 hours. I don't care how good your game is, that's just plain ridiculous.

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Aside from the absurd requirements for some of the achievements and the fuzzy textures, there's nothing this game does wrong. Quite the opposite, actually; it does almost everything right. It's basically everything you love about R-Type with a few minor subtractions and some major additions. If you like R-Type or shoot 'em ups, then R-Type Delta should be in your wheelhouse.

Word Count: 1,354

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