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R-Type Logo.png

R-Type is a horizontal shmup developed and published by Irem in 1987. Alongside Gradius, R-Type has a legacy as one of the earliest and most popular examples of a shmup, helping pave the way for the genre today. R-Type takes place in the 22nd Century, and puts the player in the seat of the R-9 Arrow Head as they fight against the Bydo, a race of hybrid machine aliens. It is well-known for its punishing difficulty which relies heavily on routing and memorization, and for its distinct visual style and enemy design, with many of the more organic creatures bordering on the edge of terrifying.

R-Type Title Screen.png

Title screen

Developer: Irem
Producer: Mitsuru Kawai
Planning: Shinji Imada [1]
Music: Masato Ishizaki [2]
Program: Takeo Sumita [3], "Misachin"
Art: Akio Oyabu, Yoshio Shimizu [4] [5]
Release date: 1987
Previous game: Mr. Heli
Next game: Image Fight

Gameplay Overview

R-Type Stage 2 0064.png

In R-Type, the player uses two buttons, with one controlling your standard shot and the other being used to control your Force Pod (if you have one). The standard shot is equipped with a charge function, with three strengths of shot possible. Levels scroll horizontally and make use of lots of environmental hazards, requiring the player to react quickly and establish routes through stages that allow them to navigate safely. The player will be dodging bullets, enemies, walls, and all sorts of objects that move all over the screen.

R-Type contains eight stages, with a second loop that has more aggressive enemies -- making for a total of 16. A 1-ALL is generally considered fairly difficult.


Joystick (Two Buttons).png
  • A (Press): Fires a Shot
  • A (Hold): Charges a Beam, release to fire
  • B: Controls the Force Pod. When equipped, this button shoots the Pod off the ship across the screen; when operating on its own, this button slowly calls the Pod towards the player's ship


You pilot the R-9A Arrowhead.


Coming soon...


Main Shot

Press A to fire normal Vulcan Cannon shots.

Hold A then release to fire a Wave Cannon shot, which can pierce weak enemies. There is a charge level gauge, and the size and the strength of a Wave Cannon shot is relative to the charge level.

Force Pod

R-Type Basic Force Pod Animated.gif

Your force pod is invincible, blocks bullets and damages enemies, making it an effective shield when attached to the ship.

The force pod is attached to either the front or back of the ship, depending on which side of the ship you touch it with. The pod is detached with the B button, which fires the pod across the screen (the pod will stop when it hits the end of the screen or an obstacle).

While Attached: Other than acting as a shield, the force pod is the source of your special weapon. The special weapon will fire in the direction the pod is attached to, allowing the player to shoot backwards.

While Detached: Instead of firing your special weapon, the pod will shoot bullets. At the highest level, it will shoot up and down, allowing for great screen coverage.

  • Level 1: The detached Force shoots 1 way forward.
  • Level 2: The detached Force shoots 2 ways forward like the V shape.
  • Level 3: The detached Force shoots 2 ways forward, 1 way upward and 1 way downward, making it like the K shape.

The pod can be recalled with the B button. Otherwise, it will drift back towards the ship until it is approximately in the middle of the opposite side of the screen to the ship, at which point is will stop moving horizontally but will still follow the ship's vertical movement. If the ship moves to the same side of the screen at the pod, the pod will move to the opposite side. The pod will hone in on the ship if they are close together.

Upgrading The Force Pod

The pod has three levels, which determines the power of the special weapon when attached and the number of bullet streams it fires when detached. The pod is upgraded when any additional laser crystal is collected.

Lasers/Special Weapons

Lasers are available when the Force reaches level 2. There are three types of lasers.

  • Red: Counter-Air Laser. The Force fires a pair of red and blue lasers forward. At level 3, the lasers intertwine like the DNA shape, increasing its range.
  • Blue: Rebound Laser. The Force fires two lasers at 45 degrees each above and below, and one laser forward. The lasers can bounce off walls. At lever 3, the lasers last longer.
  • Yellow: Counter-Ground Laser. The Forces fires two yellow lasers at 90 degrees each above and below. The lasers can travel along walls. At level 3, the lasers last longer.

Lasers can't be fired when charging a Wave Cannon shot.

Bit Devices

Bit Device Animation .gif

Bit devices are fixed in place, the first one above your ship, the second below. They are invincible, block bullets, and damage enemies on contact. They will move through walls allowing you to hit enemies on the other side.

The bits will move with a very slight delay, so their position relative to your ship will be different when you move, and they will take a few frames to "catch-up" to their standard position when you stop.

When the Red Laser is equipped, the bits can fire additional lasers.


When the Missile upgrade is collected, firing the main shot also fires two Homing Missiles at the same time, including when charging a Wave Cannon shot.


Items are released from the mobile POW Armor.

R-Type POW Armor .png
Item Image Effect
Laser Crystal
Yellow Laser Crystal.png
If a force pod is not present, collecting any laser crystal causes a force pod to enter the screen from the left.
Collecting additional laser cystals will upgrade the pod up to two times (allowing it to fire a special weapon) and changes the type of special weapon to match the colour of that crystal.
Speed Up Example Increases speed of the ship. Speed can be increased x? times. (There is no way to reduce speed)
Bit Example Equips a bit. Two bits can be equiped. The first bit collected floats above the ship, and the second below the ship. Collecting further bits does nothing.
Missiles Example Equips the ship with missiles. The missiles cannot be upgraded.

Stages and Loops

There are 8 stages in R-Type. Completion of one loop of the stages takes approximately 17.5 minutes.

R-Type features a second loop with more challenging enemies. There are no other major changes in the second loop.



See R-Type/Strategy for stage maps, enemy and boss descriptions, walkthroughs, and advanced play strategies.

Dying in R-Type is extremely punishing, as you are thrown back to a checkpoint with no weapons, Force Pod, Bits, or speed-ups. Because of this, players are typically encouraged to avoid death in any way possible and to play very safely. Practicing checkpoint recovery is a critical aspect of success in this game, as some checkpoints can prove to be highly challenging at low power.


R-Type serves as the first event of the R-Type series timeline. The Bydo Empire is invading the human race. The Space Corps developed the R-9 Arrowhead trans-dimensional fighters, and sends a squad of R-9 fighters to strike the evil Bydo Empire.

The R-9 fighters eventually reach the Bydo Empire's home star and destroy their core, but at the cost of huge causalities. Several R-9 fighters are captured by the Bydo (as shown in the event of R-Type II).

The player's R-9 survives and returns to the Earth, but eventually gets infected by the Bydo during the event of R-Type Delta.

Development History


Version Differences


  • The PlayStation ports of R-Type and R-Type II (as R-Types) run at 60 frames per second, whereas the arcade PCB runs at 55FPS.

R-Type Dimensions

R-Type Dimensions is a port of the first two R-Type games released in 2009 for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 platforms. It was re-released as R-Type Dimensions EX for PlayStation 4, Steam, and Nintendo Switch.

  • One of the highlight features of this port is the ability to switch between the original 2D graphics and an exclusive visual mode rendering all of the game's assets in full 3D.
  • Dimensions is based on the World romset. While this has little to no effect for the first game, the second game is much easier than the Japan romset.
  • A unique bug causes your Force pod to deal contact damage equal to the charge beam, making point-blanking twice as powerful.
  • In R-Type 2, some bullets fired by one particular enemy in one particular stage will not be absorbed by the Force Pod.



See R-Type/Gallery for our collection of images and scans for the game.

References & Contributors

    1. https://web.archive.org/web/20000510054117/http://www.pro-net.co.jp/company/top.html
    2. https://shmuplations.com/rtypesound/
    3. https://twitter.com/kinkinexpress/status/1599176810142765056
    4. https://twitter.com/akio_1963/status/1719007811718553906/photo/1
    5. https://twitter.com/kinkinexpress/status/1764758202217013496