R-Type Leo is a spin-off from the famous R-Type series and was released into arcades in 1992. It was the last R-Type game to be made as an arcade game and was developed by Nanao, the parent company of Irem.
R-Type Leo features the same kind of progressive weapons shooter gameplay as previous R-Type games, but with a few differences.
Instead of the usual Wave Cannon (hold down fire; release to shoot a bigger beam) this time you build up “Psy Bits” to augment the firepower of your ship, and these can be shot out, like a projectile, with a jab of the second fire button*. They also act as a protective shield around you, absorbing any nearby bullets that they hit. And these Psy Bits can fire three different types of beam, or bullets, depending on coloured crystals that you pick up.
One other important difference about R-Type Leo is that it features simultaneous two-player gameplay and is the only game in the R-Type series to have this facility. It goes without saying that simultaneous two-player enhances the game no end.
Overall, though, R-Type Leo is a pretty stunning shooter. Graphically it is rich and colourful and chock full of interesting ideas. It’s not particularly original, but then it was never meant to be… Getting to see the disgusting bio-mechanical creatures and the surprises from the developers is what we all want, and with infinite continues that is easily possible. Not that R-Type Leo is an easy game – it isn’t. It’s actually very challenging, but with an emulator, quicksaves, and “virtual coins” in the slot, a difficult game at least becomes beatable. 🙂
*= The original Japanese version of R-Type Leo only had one fire button. You had to hold the button down to activate the Psy Bits as a projectile (actually called the “Bit Cypher”). Export versions added a second button, and also had slightly easier gameplay.
More: R-Type Leo on Wikipedia