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The Antstream Arcade Guide #5: R-Type

Greetings, brave retro gamers!

Retro games can sometimes be tricky and puzzling – in a good way. But don’t panic if you’re struggling – we are here to help! Each Antstream Arcade guide will include tips and help on how to play and beat a particular game from our catalogue. We have almost 1500 brilliant retro games on Antstream Arcade – so we’d better get cracking!

The Game: R-Type

Publisher: Irem

Developer: In-house

Year: 1987

System: Arcade


Arcade shoot-‘em-ups are notoriously tough, and they don’t come much tougher than Irem’s seminal R-Type. Scrolling horizontally, R-Type is an incessant and punishing battle against the despicable Bydo Empire, set across eight varied and challenging levels. The future of humanity is in your hands, pilot. Jump into your R-9 Arrowhead fighter ship and blast off and strike the evil Bydo Empire!

Did you know?

Few arcade games had as many home conversions as R-Type. From the Atari ST to the TurboGrafx-16, Nintendo Gameboy and ZX Spectrum, each game is an exceptional shooting experience.

The Aim Of The Game

The player assaults the Bydo throughout eight action-packed levels. At the end of each stage, a major character of the Bydo stands before you. Your ultimate target is the Bydo Core, a writhing mass of tentacles and organic mass that protects the aliens’ master. Destroy this, and humanity is saved… for now.

The R-9 Arrowhead Fighter

Don’t be fooled by the Arrowhead’s slim build – this is a deadly space fighter, especially once a few power-ups have been secured. The Arrowhead has a forward laser that fires rapidly at enemies. Hold down the fire button, and this builds into a slower but more powerful beam that can destroy most regular enemies with just one shot. Maneuverable, yet powerful, the R-9 is humanity’s best hope against the Bydo.


While powerful, the R-9 Arrowhead requires additional support to triumph against the Bydo. Luckily, there’s help in the form of bi-pedal drones that drop power-ups when shot. Here’s what you can pick up – choosing the best item at the best time is the key to defeating the evil empire.

The Force

The Force is the most valuable pick-up in R-Type. While small in stature, this module is an invincible and powerful sphere, helpful in both attack and defence. The Force fires one laser shot in its most basic mode (pictured here). When upgraded (by collecting another weapon upgrade icon), it fires two shots and mimics the player’s own weapons upgrade while connected to the Arrowhead. The third and final Force advancement gives it even more shots and power. By pressing The Force button, The Force sphere zooms off, attacking enemies in front or behind. It can be re-attached on either side of the R-9 Arrowhead, becoming a useful shield. Using The Force effectively is the key to success in R-Type.

The Bits

These small rotating spheres sit above and below the R-9, acting as additional shields.


As the name suggests, this power-up increases the R-9’s movement speed.

[image] speed


A handy offensive upgrade that consistently launches two homing missiles against enemies.

R-9 Arrowhead Weapon Upgrades

In addition to the above, the R-9 has three levels to its primary laser.

Anti-Air Laser

Crystal: Red

This colourful ring-shaped laser arcs out before the R-9, destroying anything in its path. This power-up also adds a minor attack to the Bits, making it a valuable weapon.

Reflection Laser

Crystal: Blue

The Reflection laser is less potent than the anti-air but effectively eliminates awkwardly-positioned enemies. Three narrow beams shoot from the R-9, one straight ahead and two at 45-degree angles above and below. When they strike terrain, they bounce and destroy anything in their path.

Ground Laser

Crystal: Yellow

These fiery plumes emanate from above and below the R-9, striking the ground and ceiling before travelling horizontally with the player. Invaluable on levels where there are plentiful ground-based enemies.

The Enemies

R-Type has many enemies, so here’s a guide to the most dangerous.

Tank Pods

These small but annoying gun emplacements pepper the first level. They only take one regular shot to destroy but are sometimes awkwardly positioned.

Spore Layer

Level four of R-Type is particularly tough, mainly thanks to these pesky critters. Small and quick, they lay deadly spores across the screen. Collide with these, and a life is lost. Take them out before they make the screen unnavigable.

Orange Mech

This Mech hovers into view before landing and unleashing four homing missiles. These are easily destroyed, but you don’t want to leave this metal pain around to fire off any more.

Missile Launcher

These small machines spit multiple missiles into the air and can be lethal if not dealt with quickly. Use the Reflection or Ground Lasers to take them out effectively.


Slow and lumbering, it's unclear how this mechanical-organic hybrid got its name. But it can soak up a lot of fire and often attacks in packs, making it testing at busy times – IE all the time!


The Win are medium-sized swirls that appear in the latter levels of R-Type, bouncing haphazardly around the screen. They don’t fire but are completely indestructible – learn their patterns to avoid them.

Boss Rush

Each level of R-Type climaxes with a gruelling scrap against a critical facet of the Bydo Empire.

Level 1: Dobkeratops

Description: A sizeable Bydo alien with an elongated tail and another alien inside. It will eventually advance on the player.

How To Destroy: The only vulnerable section is the creature that pops out from its abdomen. Send in The Force to do some damage while the R-9 hangs back, avoiding the tail while firing power shots.

Level 2: Cyst/Gomander

Description: A heart-like mass from which a giant snake appears and attacks the player.

How To Destroy: Cyst’s only vulnerable spot is the blue orb occasionally appearing at its top. It is possible to hover just to the left of the orb and use The Force, but this can be tricky to position safely. Deter the snake by shooting its segments.

Level 3: Warship

Description: Level 3 is one long boss fight as the player chases the well-armed Warship across space. To add to its danger, parts of it can detach, causing more collision headaches for the player.

How To Destroy: Hopefully, you’ll have smashed most of the Warship’s guns by the time it reaches the end of the level. The vulnerable point is an eye that pops out from a blue-bullet spouting gun. The Reflection laser is super-useful here.

Level 4: Compiler

Description: This boss comprises three components that, together, are almost totally indestructible.

How To Destroy: Wait until the Compiler separates, when the three green weak points become accessible. Watch out as it appears from the left, and don’t forget to use The Force!

Level 5: Bellmite

Description: The Bellmite is a mechanical unit that summons organic matter to defend itself.

How To Destroy: Keep moving and focus on destroying the pods when they attack. Obliterate enough of them, and the R-9 can attack the mechanical being beneath them.

Level 6: Dops/Dopps

Description: This isn’t a boss, specifically, but a concerted and claustrophobic assault by the mechanical transports that appear throughout level 6.

How To Destroy: The bulbous pink section is their vulnerability, and these can be difficult to target as most of the Dop have them situated to the right. Position your Force to the rear of the R-9 and use the Reflection laser for the best chance of surviving this intense battle.

Level 7: Bronco

Description: A giant trash compactor with falling debris and armed robots.

How To Destroy: To the far right is a glowing blue orb guarded by claws. When they open, send in

The Force and/or a powered-up shot or two from the R-9. The falling trash encompasses the whole screen; you’ll need your reflexes at their best to progress.

Level 8: Bydo Core

Description: The villainous Bydo Master sits behind a wall of tentacles which only part when it's ready to hurl a fireball at the R-9 Arrowhead.

How To Destroy: There’s one decent method of winning here: when the tentacles open, send in The Force to constantly weaken the Bydo Core while the R-9 focuses on avoiding or destroying the other enemies. With a bit of luck and a lot of skill, victory will be yours!

General Tips

  • Be wary about picking up too many speed power-ups – the R-9 will become very skittish and difficult to control.

  • The insane mass of enemies will mean that the R-9’s powered-up shot becomes less valuable as the game progresses – it leaves the player too vulnerable. However, it can still be helpful in certain situations with clumps of minor enemies.

  • Don’t forget The Force can attach to the front or rear of the R-9, forming an excellent shield. Learning what situations require which is essential.

  • The Force also increases the R-9’s firepower when attached. When separated, it can prove an effective vanguard against enemy craft.

  • You’ll have a much better chance of surviving if you memorise the enemy attack patterns.

  • While slower than many of its peers, R-Type often squeezes the player into tight spots. The Bits and Force are your friends here.

  • Practice manipulating The Force, sending it out and recalling it. It really is your best friend.

High Score Chasing

Antstreamer weskerumbrella sits atop the Antstream Arcade R-Type high score table with an incredible 676,500 points. CharlieFar (302,100) and SullDaBull (276,800) occupy the other top three slots. The key to a high score? Learn the enemy formations and survive for as long as possible.

R-Type Challenges

There are three R-Type challenges on Antstream Arcade:-

  • Arrowhead To Glory: Strike against the Bydo Empire and eliminate as many enemies as possible with just one life.

  • Force Your Way Forward: With the R-9’s guns disabled, your only means of attack is The Force.

  • Super Ultra Beam Shot: The R-9’s standard shot is disabled; use the powered-up beam to eliminate enemies. One hit, and the challenge is over.

We hope you’ve enjoyed our latest Antstream Arcade Guide – stay tuned for more helpful hints soon. If you’re still trying to get a high score in R-Type, why not head to the Antstream Arcade Discord server and see if someone can help you further? You can find us at:

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