I got the US version of R-Type Tactics, titled R-Type Command. Hooray for region-free games, it should all be this way. (Incidentally, I also finally got Professor Layton And The Curious Village for the DS from San Francisco during GDC09 – and Every Extend Extra for the PSP – having been unable to find it domestically.)
You take command and build your fleet of R-Type armada, developing new models, revising your tactics and taking on the biomechanical Bydo Empire. “BLAST OFF AND STRIKE THE EVIL BYDO EMPIRE!!”, as it were. Only you do it in turns and move your ships on a hexagonal map representation of a side-scrolling 2D shoot em up game. It is what I signed up for.
Pilot development is disappointingly shallow and the scenarios could do with more variety, but I’m happy with the thing I was most concerned about – difficulty. Many a Japanese tactics game has lost interest to me when I realize that I basically either can’t lose or have to do things in a very specific way only. With R-Type Command, most of the time you need to be careful if you don’t want to lose some ships and many missions require a couple of replays to try different approaches.
Once you’re done with the modest campaign, it’s time to see things from the Bydo side, which I’m looking forward to quite a bit, actually.
The presentation and loading times continue to grate – far too much clicking and confirming, only to look at another lengthy loading screen – but the concept is just a winner in my hands.
With this and Every Exend Extra, I’ve been playing on the PSP a lot lately. I do hope that Sony’s push for new interest in the platform this year is a success. It looks like they’re going to concentrate on downloadable content via the PlayStation Network integration and I’m looking forward to see what they do with it. Certainly it makes more sense to me as a consumer than a handful of clumsy UMDs.