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I was surrounded. A thousand screaming alien goons coming at me from every single angle, wailing and firing and shooting for all they were worth. They never stood a chance. Swift moves and a happy trigger finger despatched the slimebags in an ionized cloud.

Of course, reversing into the ceiling and blowing myself to bits wasn’t really a technically strategic move, but, come on – I’m nearly on the second level.

You’ve probably already read stacks about R-Type online, so I don’t need to explain the story. It’s enough to say that it’s probably the space shoot-out in the arcades but is it any good on the Spec?

Marvelous. It’s all color and violence and weapons and death and more violence.

You pilot a single-seater spacecraft (which actually looks very stupid) into the heart of an alien planet with a view to destroy the whole place. Along the way, you’ll come up against virtually every conceivable form of nasty. Flyers, walkers, shooters and bumpers, weird and wonderful Gigeresque alien constructions and it’s just so fast.

The most exciting thing about R-Type online is the range of weapons available for collection at certain points in the game. By blowing away specific types of bad guys – usually walkers – a jewel will appear which, on collection will produce fantastic effects the next time you hit Fire. The extras available include rocket bombs which home in on the nearest alien, reflective lasers which bounce around all over the shop and lots more besides.

The first item to appear after a jewel pick-up is the Probe, a kind of revolving bumper affair which protects your ship, making you immune from head-on collision with aliens. The probe can also be fired off into a high-risk area of the screen to clear a path. Of course, when it’s not attached, you’re vulnerable.

The level of difficulty is set just right. It’s a very tough game indeed, and you’ll be lucky to get past the first level after a couple of days, but whereas lots of other shoot-outs rapidly become impossible, R-Type still feels as if it can be cracked if you persevere. Even when you’re horribly outnumbered, it is possible to move your way out of trouble.

After the initial waves of alien fighter formations you gradually come into contact with nastier and nastier baddies. Inevitably, at the end of each level, you come across a huge monster which needs a whole cartload of firepower and a lot of strategy to destroy. These are setpieces of the game and they’re so absurdly extravagant they’d be silly if they weren’t so bloody difficult.

R-Type online is a multi-load. After every few minutes of scroll (assuming you could fly through unhampered) you have to load the next section. There are eight levels in all, some of which are combined in one load, others requiring a load a piece.

Personally, I was in danger of spoiling my shirt with bile at the thought of another scrolling space shoot-out, but R-Type proved me wrong, wrong, wrong. It’s fab. Colorful, action packed and a very faithful conversion.

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