Wednesday, 2 November 2016

G-Type (PC)

G-Type was actually one of the first doujin shooters i ever played, back in the mid-00s. Unlike other games from that period, like Warning Forever or Dan! Da Dan!, it's not one I ever went back to in the years between then and now. That's not to say it's a worse game than those two (well, not significantly worse, anyway), it's just that comparatively, it's a lot more old-fashioned and slower paced than those games, and obviously I'm one of those impatient millenials that needs everything to be fast and flashy all the time. Well, my shooting games, anyway.

There's a good reason why this 2002 game is so slow and archaic, though: it's a loving homage and fusion of those two elder statesman of the shooting genre, R-type and Gradius. Later on, you even get to fight weird fusions of bosses from those two games and the Darius series, too! How it works is that the stages are mostly Gradius-like in design, and your ship is clearly a variant of the classic R-9 Arrowhead. The power-up system is the most coherent fusion of the two games, though. You collect generic power ups that each advance a counter at the bottom of the screen by one, and you press the second controller button to activate the currently highlighted power-up. So far, that's Gradius, right? The twist is that when you start the game, the fourth option is "Force", and the fifth and sixth are blank. When you choose force, the force floats onscreen and the last three power up options become "M-Way", "Laser" and "Burst". Laser refers to the blue power-up from R-Type, the three-way lasers, M-Way is a weak and boring multi-way shot, made pretty much redundant by the laser serving the same purpose, and Burst is the burst missiles seen in some of the Gradius games.

As well as the two big stars, there's also some homages to the Darius series in there! Firstly, the third stage, taking the form of the traditional R-Type battleship boss/stage takes place over a fire planet that periodically spits out firballs, like the first stage of Darius II. The fourth stage also takes the form of a boss rush, during which your opponents take the form of fusions of classic Darius, Gradius and R-type bosses.

You're probably wondering by now if there's actually a good game under all the homages and nostalgia, and there is. Like I said earlier, it's pretty slow-paced by modern standards, but it's still a lot of fun. It also looks great, with nice, chunky sprites, and a kind of high-contrast colour style reminiscent of R-Type Leo. The difficulty's also perfecty pitched: not too hard, and not too easy, and if you want to see a little further in the game (like if you want to take more screenshots to put in your review for example, ahem), you can start a new game from any stage you've previously reached. A good tip is to obtain and power up your force as early as possible, since when you lose a life, it stays behind with all its power-ups intact. This might be a little inauthentic, but it's also a pretty good way of alleviating the slippery slope that was prevalent in both R-Type and Gradius, whereby you lost all your power-ups on death, leading to rapid loss of the rest of your lives. If I remember right, didn't Gradius V do a similar thing with Options a couple of years later?

G-Type is a pretty good game, and a nice homage to its spiritual progenitors. If you're a fan of either of them, I'd recommend giving it a shot. Some advice though: you'll need to use JoyToKey or a similar program to use a controller, no matter what the options screen might suggest, and the only display options are a tiny 320x240 window and the same resolution stretched to fullscreen. That sort of thing doesn't bother me, but I know that some people are gigantic tedious snobs when it comes to that stuff.

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