Generally, I try as hard as I can to “finish” most of the games I review. Even terrible games deserve to be played all the way through, I believe, because you never know when one will genuinely surprise you. R-Type II (out now, $1.99) by DotEmu held few surprises, but that’s okay, because it’s not a terrible game. I was, however, unable to finish it. I did my best, but it turns out I am but a mortal man and R-Type II is R-Type II.

screen480x480My first brush with the notoriously difficult game was many years ago on the Super Nintendo. There it was called Super R-Type, and as a kid I don’t think I was able to pass the first level. Well, nearly two decades later on my iPad, now was my chance. And I’m happy to report I did indeed pass that first level, but I’m embarrassed to say how many attempts it took and how far I’ve gotten since.

Difficulty aside, DotEmu has created an excellent and — if my memory serves — extremely faithful port of the classic game. The 16 bit visuals are beautiful, and the rock solid framerate keeps things zipping along without a hitch. Many games today try to emulate the “retro” art and sound of games from this era, but it’s pretty clear when looking at the painstaking detail of the backgrounds and listening to the awesome music here that there’s nothing like the real thing.

The controls have also made a pretty smooth transition to iOS. The default setting sees you dragging anywhere on the screen to position your ship, with a helpful autofire option so you don’t have to worry about an excessive amount of virtual buttons. (There is also a fixed D-Pad control scheme, but the less said about that the better.)

It’s hard to say much else about the iOS version of R-Type II. If you enjoyed the game when it first came out, you’ll be over the moon as this port is perfect in just about every way I can think of (it even includes physical controller support!). However, if you are approaching it as a modern gamer that never played the original, be warned: you are going to seriously have your ass handed to you.

iFanzine Verdict: Dot Emu’s port of the classic R-Type II is smart, fun, and surprisingly feature-rich. With leaderboards, extra difficulties, multiple control options, and achievements, this is a dream come true for fans of the original game. However, the game itself is absurdly challenging, and one could argue there’s a good reason most games are not made quite that hard anymore. It’s a beautiful trip down memory lane, but whether or not you’ll put up with the frustrating difficulty along the way depends on how much you miss the original.