R-Type was heralded as one of the greatest shoot ’em ups to grace computer screens. The temptation to better it has proved too much for Irem. Famed for innovative games such as X Multiply and Dragon Breed, they had a reputation to live up to. And so the sequel, R-Type 2, rears its powerful and many faceted head. The neafious forces of the Bydo Empire yet again loom large and threatening. Not surprising really – this is what happens in sequels! There are six levels of horizontal parallax scrolling action, which bears more than a passing similarity to R-Type. All the great gadgets and gizmos are present. The all-protecting Force shield defends your ship both fore and aft. A wonderful feeling of invincibility surrounds you; the metallic killing machines which attempt to send you to an early bath are rendered powerless! Collecting the extra weapons and added extras is essential if one is to survive all the dreaded onslaughts of the evil Bydo Empire. A very difficult business as your foes are adept at sneaking behind and shooting your posterior. In order to combat this, pick up the bombs which can fire both front and back. Weapons beyond your wildest dreams, indeed. Missiles travel along like deadly ball bearings, or cascades of deadly energy. The most spectacular effects are the exocet-rockets, and the ring lasers. The electric blue lasers which ricochet around the screen are a necessity for killing off those little aliens which lurk in dark corners. The secret of success is to pick up as many of these deadly items as possible. A minimal amount of skill is required as blasting everything in sight, regardless of aim, seems to be the best policy. Easy, huh? Well, not quite. Staying alive takes a vigilant eye and a steady stream of killer beams. Aim for objects which look like flying space helmets. When shot, these reveal icons with the letter S or M. Speed and bombs are the respective prizes. After surviving swarms of baddies, your reward is to meet the end-of-level guardian: a huge monster which fills the screen, blocking the path to the next level. Holding down the fire button creates an impressive blinder of a shot. A metre at the base of the screen shows the strength of the bolt. Firing a few of these will destroy beasties like the centipede and the crab ships. Comparisons are odious, but I will make them anyway. In the original R-Type, the creatures were similar to monsters which inhabit sci-fi films like Alien. They had an identifiable, ghoulish form. In R-Type 2, the enemies, and especially the end-of-level guardians, are so intricate they are difficult to recognise. The graphics are executed with a great deal of imagination and flair. The best background graphics are in level six; a land of petrified forests and decapitated dinosaur heads. The sounds ar fast and pacy, with music sampled directly from the coin-op. R-Type 2 is a superior shoot ’em up with many enjoyable features.