R-Type is getting a Sega Mega Drive port courtesy of an ingenious fan – and the first stage is almost complete.
Irem’s seminal arcade shoot-’em-up, R-Type, is set to appear on the Sega Mega Drive – albeit unofficially. Programmer Andrea Baldiraghi (TheRoboZ) is working on a homebrew port of the 1987 shooter, and over the past few months, has kept his followers updated on Twitter.
In a new YouTube video, Baldiraghi reveals that he’s almost completed development of R-Type's first stage – all the enemies are there, the attack patterns look pretty much spot-on, and fans of the original game will immediately recognise all the set-pieces, such as the spinning ring of gun turrets players encounter towards the stage’s middle.
There’s clearly still more to fix, with the iconic end-of-level boss largely made up of placeholder sprites for now. But it’s a marked step forward from December 2022 when Baldiraghi first tweeted about the project – back then, the level was looking far more sparse.
Baldiraghi’s initial plan was to complete four of R-Type’s eight stages and then release it as a free ROM; more recently, however, work has slowed and he’s looking for volunteers to help him continue development.
Here’s hoping the project does indeed come to fruition. R-Type got some remarkably good ports in the 1980s, particularly on PC Engine and Sega Master System. As Baldiraghi’s project proves, the Mega Drive has the processing power to run an almost arcade-perfect version of the game. And, as we explored earlier this year, the advent of development tools like SGDK means we’ve seen all kinds of superb new Mega Drive releases of late, including British developer Bitmap Bureau’s Xeno Crisis.
Funnily enough, Bitmap Bureau mentioned Baldiraghi’s Mega Drive R-Type port during our chat with them for that very article. Perhaps they could collaborate and bring the project to completion? We can but hope…