March 30, 2023

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R-Type Final 2 review – a scruffy celebration of a genre great

The name is dumb, of course, but I’ll take it. Thanks to a certain long-running JRPG series the word Final has lost most of its meaning around these parts, but when R-Type took it on as a suffix back in 2003 it really meant it. R-Type Final was intended as a grand farewell to a genre seen to be on its last legs, and a send-off from one of the all-time greats at that. A funereal air hung heavy over its slow, stately missions, and when Irem turned away from games development in 2011 it felt like part of R-Type Final’s prophecy might have come to pass. A gaming legend was no more.

Reports of the genre’s death were greatly exaggerated, of course, and in recent years a cottage industry has risen around this most humble breed of shooting games. Pick up a Switch and you could fill its storage with some of the all-time greats – Esp.Ra.De! Gradius 2! Darius Gaiden! – alongside modern classics such as Devil’s Engine or Rolling Gunner, making it one of the best platforms for lovers of the genre since the PlayStation 2.

It’s fertile ground for a comeback for one of the grandees, even if this isn’t exactly the grandest of comebacks. R-Type Final 2 comes off the back of a modest crowdfunding campaign, bringing together some of the old team headed up by Kazuma Kujo at Granzella, and it is a more modest thing – there’s a creakiness to its Unreal Engine powered levels regardless of what platform you’re on, a flatness to its models and textures that goes beyond mere tribute to the PlayStation 2 original.

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