This is the second time in our VS section that the two major companies Irem and SNK come face to face... We are still in 1992, and after having shot the wad on Beat 'em Up (see Mutation Nation VS Undercover Cops), here are our two talented publishers competing again, this time in the Shoot them Up category. Any fan of the genre knows R-type and how Irem made history with this revolutionary title. SNK launches a horizontal shooting game for the first time on its 16-bit system, after Alpha Mission II and Ghost Pilots: we are finally facing a fat R-type clone, Neo Geo style! The MVS versus the M-92: Irem's hardware is slightly lower than the Neo Geo in terms of processors, sprites and displayable colors, but it uses a similar Yamaha sound chip. The advantage also goes to SNK on memory and video RAM, while the M92 is significantly thinner in terms of resolution. On Last Resort and R-Type Leo, the displays used are respectively 312x224 and 320x240. The rom size of the two rivals is close enough, since the title of SNK is just 11Mb bigger (45 against 34), which is insignificant in this duel.
Evolution since R-Type is pretty visible for sure, but despite the resolution used the game overall lacks sharpness and colors. The stages - six total - have the advantage of being diverse and using different panels of colors. The enemy vessels are a little less diverse, like in Last Resort: each world has its own ones, while we found systematically some in all the levels. The SNK soft features finer graphics, using a richer color palette, with a design particularly inspired. Boss are equally impressive in both games, but we experienced Irem designers at a better level: Last Resort wins this round easily.
LAST RESORT ............. 93%
R-TYPE LEO ..................84%
Our two opponents share some qualities, such as two-players simultaneous game and a rich, sustained action: impressive quantity of sprites on the screen, differential scrollings and crossfires! In both productions a few slowdowns occur - especially when playing two - but this is more noticeable in Last Resort, which displays even more sprites on screen. Speed-wise, the softs are making par. By cons, attention to detail has not been the same on one and the other: the stages are more dynamic in SNK's, the game teeming with small details (cars exploding, pilots ejected of spaceships, rain, sea in motion...). The animation is fluid and more decomposed than its competitor, quite far ahead. Even the explosions are much better designed, not to mention the beautiful zoom effects.
LAST RESORT ............. 85%
R-TYPE LEO ..................80%
Last Resort offers dramatic themes, pretty well adapted to the post-apocalyptic atmosphere of the action. These are well orchestrated and varied, but not particularly 'catchy': they impregnate perfectly, without being too significant. R-Type Leo features far more mundane musics, even quite irrelevant (techno-gay) and severely lacking personality. The sound effects are not catching up, with a very basic quality, even mediocre at times. This is the bare minimum that Irem made here! SNK made way better in this chapter, with more successful and 'realistic' sound effects.
LAST RESORT ............. 88%
R-TYPE LEO ..................69%
Five stages players have to loop twice for SNK, against six for Irem. If Last Resort is more difficult than its rival, it's still disappointing that some Bosses are a little too easy to kill in normal mode, while in fact some passages during the stages are particularly hard. Checkpoint system applies when playing alone, while players pop back directly on screen when playing two. R-Type Leo does not borrow the system of its ancestors, offering to continue exactly where you died. It's easier to clear, but less daunting and more varied, especially with six stages to finish only once!
LAST RESORT .............. 75%
R-TYPE LEO ..................76%
Irem has chosen to innovate for this new installment in his saga, by radically changing the module system. Here are five types of bonuses: three machine gun (green, blue or red) giving different weapons that upgrade on three power levels. The M bonus provides missiles in addition to the basic gun, and S of course is speed-up, which improves speed. The first bonus shot collected awards no more one, but two small modules that are placed above and below the unit. No more charge or moving module now! The gameplay has been greatly simplified: shoot with A, launch both modules by pressing B: these are homing and go directly destroying enemies or inflict considerable damages to the Bosses. Paradoxically, Last Resort looks more like R-Type for its gameplay than its inheritor Leo! In SNK's title, the system breaks down into speed-up and blue/red power-ups, with engraved letters on it: H, L, G. Homing Missile, Ground Missile and Laser. Three power levels are here possible for each type. The first bonus provides the shield module, which can be placed anywhere around the vessel. You can lock or unlock position by pressing B. Our module is thus a shield, shoots plasma in every possible direction, and sends the special weapon H, L or G collected right from the second bonus! Maintain A loads the module's launch in any direction to destroy everything in its path. The collected capsule's color is important: if it was blue, the module rebounds against obstacles, if it was red, the module slides on them. Allowing more complete and far more tactical play than R-Type Leo, Last Resort overrules the gameplay part.
LAST RESORT ............. 90%
R-TYPE LEO ..................82%
Technically, Neo Geo has this time clearly dominated the M-92. R-Type Leo is certainly not the best of the series, but it's still a high quality title. There's only on life that Irem's production takes over its competitor. Last Resort, which is just another R-Type clone, however offers many great innovations, a gorgeous realization and an unique atmosphere, in addition to a refined gameplay allowing many in-game tactics. A beautiful victory from SNK, exploiting nicely the Neo Geo, with the robust 45 Mb of Last Resort!