Released into video game arcades in 1987, Irem‘s side-scrolling shoot ’em up, R-Type, is considered by many to be the best of its type (pun intended).
‘R-9’ is the name of the craft you fly in the game. The R-9 can charge up its beam (hold down fire, then release when fully charged), and can also collect other power-ups to enhance both its destructive capabilties, but also its defensive power too.
Key to R-Type‘s success is the nose/tail pod (called a ‘Force’). A device that you acquire that can protect you from bullets, and also provide extra firepower, and fits onto the front or the back of the R-9. The nose pod can be ejected with a button press, and the R-9 can fly around it and re-attach it to the rear of the craft. The nose pod can also be ejected into baddies or bosses, to focus more fireppower into certain places. It is a very useful device.
Which is why losing the nose pod is a serious problem. It means your R-9 is naked, bare bones, again, and you have to quickly re-build your firepower to survive.
At times R-Type is unbelievably difficult, but all arcade shooters are like this. They are really designed to test your skills to the limit.
As a ‘bullet hell’ shooter, the original arcade R-Type is still an impressive beast. Irem did a brilliant job on the graphics and gameplay for this, and created a timeless classic in the process.
Note: the ‘R’ in R-Type apparently stands for “ray”, as in reference to the many ‘ray-like’ weapons in the game.
More: R-Type on Wikipedia