The Bydo are back!
Preview by James Cunningham (Email)
April 22nd 2008
After R-Type Final it seemed like the end for the series, the clue being “Final” in a title without “Fantasy” or “Fight” anywhere near it. Franchises are adaptable creatures, however, and while the side-scrolling shooter aspect is on an extended vacation, there's no reason the R-Type name shouldn't get the occasional outing. R-Type Command takes all the series trappings and plops them down into a hex- and turn-based strategy game that's shaping up to be surprisingly effective.
That humans and the Bydo don't get along is a given, but instead of one valiant fighter facing impossible odds, this time it's total war. Earth's armadas are at your command, sent to clear out battlegrounds that look more than a little similar to the side-scrolling levels R-Type is known for. A cluster of fighters starts off at the left side of the map, with a carrier designated as the flagship that must be protected at all costs.
There are a good variety of craft to choose from, ranging from standard fighters to force pods to support craft. Going into a battle thinking only of offense is a spectacular way to die, as fighters can run out of both armaments and fuel without supply ships around to top them off. Most fighters have at least two weapons of varying range and several even have a charge shot. The charge auto-generates so long as the ship doesn't take damage, meaning that sometimes it's best to keep the heavy hitters in the back while the lighter guys soak up the harm. Damaged craft can always fly back to the flagship and take a turn to be repaired, if you've got both the time and patience.
While the demo revealed a game that looks great and promises weeks of strategic space-battling goodness, several key components that should really make R-Type Command fly were disabled. Items found in space can be used to research new technologies, leading to more ships with better capabilities. Pilots can go up in skills, adding to their hit and evade percentages, giving an added incentive to keep their ships alive. Research, production, and all sorts of interesting units to play with promise to turn R-Type Command into pure strategic delight. While R-Type's days as a shooter may have come to a (hopefully temporary) close, its hex-based return promises to be interesting at least, and an addictive brain-eater at best.