A fan-made Sega Mega Drive port of shooter classic R-Type is coming along nicely, with its creator now adding the Sega Master System version’s secret stage to the mix.
Programmer Andrea Baldiraghi has been working on his homebrew port of the classic R-Type for a while now, and once complete, it’ll give Sega Mega Drive (and Genesis) owners a port of the shoot-’em-up they never got in the console’s 80s and 90s heyday.
Baldiraghi (or TheRoboZ) has provided regular updates on his X (or Twitter) feed, which has made clear just how much effort and attention to detail he’s pouring into his 16-bit port. Its first stage is up and running, and without actually doing a side-by-side comparison with the arcade original, it looks remarkably close to the version developed by Irem in 1987.
Most recently, Baldiraghi has announced that he’s adding an extra stage that wasn’t in the coin-op version. In R-Type's port to the Sega Master System, developer Compile inserted a secret level that can only be accessed by moving your ship to a specific point on stage four. Get your positioning right, and you’d find yourself in a bio-mechanical cavern packed with deadly insects and a screeching area boss that followed Irem’s HR Giger-inspired tradition.
“It was the most requested feature from the moment I showed the first video,” Baldiraghi said in a tweet. “I had never seen it before so it was fun and something new to focus on.”
As you can see from the video embedded below, the Mega Drive version of Compile’s secret stage makes some welcome improvements – the serpentine things jutting out of the background were static on the Master System, but now move and vibrate ominously on your approach.
— TheRoboZ (Andrea Baldiraghi) (@TheRoboZ) August 17, 2023
A separate tweet also shows Baldiraghi’s take on the end-of-level boss – and looking at the sprites, it looks as though the bony structures on its screaming face will explode outwards, rather than apologetically disappear as they did in the Master System version.
— TheRoboZ (Andrea Baldiraghi) (@TheRoboZ) August 12, 2023
One user asked whether Baldiraghi was thinking of adding another exclusive element from a different console – the sixth stage boss found only on the PC Engine CD port, R-Type Complete. “When I deal with that stage, I will decide,” Baldiraghi said, “or maybe make it optional.”
Baldiraghi’s R-Type could become the definitive port – or at the very least, a version of the game that the Mega Drive really should have gotten over 30 years ago. Irem made Super R-Type and R-Type III for the Super Famicom, and the Game Boy got a couple of handheld ports, but the series never graced Sega’s 16-bit system. Interestingly, developer M2 pitched the idea of porting sequel R-Type Leo to the Mega Drive back in the 1990s, but it sadly never happened.
There’s no word on when R-Type will be finished, but we’ll keep you posted. We’re quietly hoping for a physical release on cartridge…