Old School Gamer Magazine chats with Tozai Games Producer Takuya Banno, who discusses their new edition of the classic shoot-em-up, R-Type, dubbed R-Type Dimensions EX, on the Nintendo Switch. Featuring a plethora of old school influences and odes, Dimensions EX is the best of both worlds, a throwback shooting experience with next generation visuals and difficulty.

Originally released by IREM in 1987 in arcades, R-Type eventually found its way on a myriad of home
computer and gaming consoles after its reign of dominance in arcades, including the Sega Master System, TurboGrafx-16 (arguably considered the most faithful adaptation of the arcade original) and the ZX Spectrum. Ports of those versions have also found their way on the iOS, Nintendo Wii, 3DS, PlayStation Network, Google Play and Xbox 360 Live Arcade. In terms of legacy and reception, R-Type is considered one of the most difficult side-scrolling shooter experiences of all-time, but is equally hailed by critics for its visuals and gameplay.

OSG: What has it been like to work with this series?

TAKOYA – R-Type series has always been admired by gamers for itsinnovative game design, artistic graphics and sophisticated music, so it’s been an honor to work with remaking these Shoot-em-up masterpieces. But on top of that, we at Tozai Games, with Scott Tsumura, being a head of IREM R&D back in the ‘80s, have a special emotional attachment to this series. The big challenge was, how should these games be remade? Balancing respect for the original and updating for the present gaming market is key. Because the original game design is so solid, we decided not to make any big changes to the experience, but instead made it more accessible and acceptable to today’s players.

Adding 3D graphics is a big pillar of the remake, because it makes R-Type look like a new title. The 3D version is a re-imagining of the original version, so the process was very challenging, but exciting. We based it on the original 2D design and referenced old R&D documents provided by Irem and we discussed how each character would look if they existed in the real world. We also introduced an “Infinity mode” so everyone can play through to the game ending, which was quite impossible for majority of gamers when these games were in arcades.

OSG: Why has the series endured for so long?

TAKOYA – The R-Type series were truly innovative games. Thekey invention was “force,” indestructible units attached to the front or back of your ship but that could also be separated from the ship. Force shoot several weapons based on the item players last picked up and it can be used for both attack or defense, adding deep tactics to the gameplay. There were other innovations R-Type brought to the table, but one of the most noteworthy was the unique worldview, especially the Bydo creatures, who are shockingly unique, grotesque, but still beautiful. So, by a fortuitous combination of these factors, R-Type became one of the standouts in game history.

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Patrick Hickey Jr. Patrick Hickey Jr. (324 Posts)

Patrick Hickey, Jr., is the founder and editor-in-chief of ReviewFix.com and a lecturer of English and journalism at Kingsborough Community College, in Brooklyn, New York. Over the past decade, his video game coverage has been featured in national ad campaigns by top publishers the likes of Nintendo, Deep Silver, Disney and EA Sports. His book series, "The Minds Behind the Games: Interviews With Cult and Classic Game Developers," from McFarland and Company, has earned praise from Forbes, Huffington Post, The New York Daily News and MSG Networks. He is also a former editor at NBC and National Video Games Writer at the late-Examiner.com