The game is the sequel to R-Type, which was first released as an arcade game in 1987 and profoundly influenced later shooting games with its charge shots, unique weaponry, and grotesque enemies. Hudson Soft ported the later 4 levels of the original R-Type to the TurboGrafx-16 with the title R-Type II, but the Hudson release is unrelated to the game described in this article.
The player controls a ship called the R-9C (or R-9 Custom), which is an improved version of its predecessor game's ship; the R-9. The ship's design was changed slightly, and the wave cannon was given homing capabilities. Two new types of weapons (the Search Laser and Shotgun Laser) were added, bringing the total number of weapon types up to five. A new anti-ground unit bomb was also added to the missile inventory.
Though the number of levels was decreased from the prequel, the number of enemies, their durability, and the number of bullets they shoot were greatly increased. Enemy movements and terrain were also made trickier, bringing the game's difficulty up considerably. The same revival system is used as in the prequel, where the player is brought back to a checkpoint whenever their ship is destroyed.
The controls are mostly unchanged from R-Type, where the 8-way joystick controls the ship's movement, and the shot button fires the ship's main beam. The other button is used to equip or unequip Force; the series' most unusual innovation. Pressing down the shot button causes the blue beam gauge to fill up, and releasing the button causes a wave beam to travel a certain distance depending on the length of time the button was pressed down. If the button is pressed down until the blue gauge is fully charged, a red gauge appears and fills up quickly. Filling up the red gauge causes it to flash blue and red, releasing the shot button at this point shoots an even more powerful beam.
Unlike the normal beam that only travels in a straight line, the newly added Shotgun Laser beam explodes in multiple directions after traveling a short distance. This shot causes heavy damage if the player can target a single enemy with it. However, holding the button down after the gauge is flashing causes the beam to return to the normal transverse beam (the gauge alternates between flashing and returning to the normal state while the button is held down), so the player must release the button at the right timing in order to successfully target enemies. The other newly added beam, the Search Laser, is semi-homing, and can bend at angles up to 45°.
Items appear when the player destroys white circular objects called POW Armor, and collecting the items that appear causes the ship to become more powerful. The bluish-white POW Armors leave behind laser crystals, and the reddish-white ones leave behind various one of the three other types of power-up items. The POW Armors only appear in set locations on each level.
- Laser crystals
- Collecting one crystal equips one Force armor onto the ship, and the Force becomes more powerful with new special weaponry after the second crystal is collected, and even stronger with a third crystal. Only one type of crystal can be equipped at a time. Red crystals equip spiraling beams in the forward direction that penetrate through groups of enemies. Yellow crystals equip anti-ground unit beams that spread along the floor and ceiling areas. Blue crystals equip reflecting beams that are fired in 3 directions and reflect off of terrain. Green crystals equip the new Search Laser beam, which fire two beams which bend at angles up to 45° to follow moving enemies. However, the beam has low power and is slow to reload. Gray crystals equip the Shotgun Laser, which fires a circular capsule in the forward direction which explodes in multiple directions after traveling a certain distance. Though the weapon causes high amounts of damage, its range is limited in comparison to other weapons.
- The missile item is indicated with a large "M." Homing missiles are fired two at a time in the forward direction, and will change course to pursue enemies. The newly-added anti-ground missile (Scatter Bomb missile) is fired downwards, and explodes upon contact with the ground. Only one type of missile can be equipped at one time.
- These indestructible helper-ships are equipped on the top or bottom of the player's ship, and attack by firing the basic level laser beam. Up to two bits can be equipped at one time.
- This item is indicated with a large "S," and increase the ship's speed up to 4 times when collected.
New weapons in R-Type II
- Green - Search Laser - fires semi-homing lasers that can bend at 45° angles.
- Grey - Shotgun Laser - fires large shells that explode powerfully after a short distance.
- Scatter bomb - drops bombs to the ground; when these explode, the explosion scatters forward along the ground for a short distance. This is a supporting weapon that can be equipped instead of missiles.
The game consists of six levels. Though an ending screen is displayed after the player finishes all of the levels once through, the game's true ending is only displayed after the player completes the levels a second time through under increased difficulty. The game starts off in a ruined Bydo base, and continues through a giant cave where waterfalls can prevent the ship from progressing. The player battles several huge battleships in the third level, and the terrain constantly shifts around during the fourth and fifth levels. The final level takes place on the Bydo home planet, where the alien organisms are cloned and mass-produced.
Super R-Type, released in 1991 for the Super Famicom, is a semi-port of R-Type II. The game was released for the Wii Virtual Console on January 29, 2008 for 800 Wii Points. About half of the levels in Super R-Type were newly created, but some are arranged versions of the levels in R-Type II.
R-Type II, For the Amiga, is a downgraded though faithful conversion of the original arcade game. It was positively received by magazine critics of the time garnering praise for its accuracy.
The game was also ported to the Game Boy, but the limitations of the hardware caused the content to be changed around considerably. The Game Boy version contains only 5 levels, and some of the boss names were changed around as well.
The game is also coupled with its prequel in R-TYPES, which was released for the PlayStation in 1998. This was followed by downloadable releases for the PlayStation Portable and PlayStation 3 over the PlayStation Network. R-TYPES also includes a new opening and ending movie animation, along with R's Library, which documents some of the game's design settings. A promotional movie of R-Type Delta was also included in this release.
Along with the original R-Type, the game was ported to the Xbox 360's downloadable service Xbox Live Arcade as "R-Type Dimensions".