The R9 was the ship you'd pilot in your quest to defeat the evil Bydo Empire in Irem Corp's masterpiece: R-Type. It appears throughout the video game series and is later accompanied by the RX and R13 in R-Type Delta, but even then the R9 is likely to be the seasoned gamer's weapon of choice.

At first glance it may seem an underpowered craft. It doesn't move too fast and just one incoming bullet, alien fiend or large piece of level artwork will cause catastrophe, but experiment with the fire button and you're away. Repeated taps unleash a flurry of small, fast shots. They don't do a lot to the larger enemies, but that's why you learn to hold it down. The longer the button is depressed the more the R9's weapon systems will power up, drawing in energy as if from the very fabric of space until they reach capacity. Releasing the shot at any time after this will send out a pulse of energy that will tear through multiple small enemies, be they gun turrets, other space ships or mid-sized, mechanical fish. Even the level bosses feel a hit from the R9's charged up weapons system. Try this in R-Type Delta (and maybe R-Type 2?) and you even get a further boost if you can wait a little longer. This beast then fires a spreading energy weapon that you don't even have to line up to do untold damage. Beautiful.

It doesn't end there. No, the R9 continues to shine when you start to collect the power ups available throughout the entire series of games. Firstly you can shoot down a weapon pod and grab yourself a nifty little speed-up. The R9 can utilise one just by flying through it, whereupon a burst of raw energy will jet from the craft's engines and movement from that point on will be swifter at no cost to handling.

Then comes the Force. Collect this device and your R9 practically sings with Bydo killing joy. The force is an indestructible, floating gun turret that can be attatched to either the front or rear of your craft and even project out towards the enemy to deal remote damage. The beauty of this power up is it's depth of use. In a tight spot on the level you may wish to attatch it to the R9's front end and drive straight through the enemy or you can literally mop up incoming bullets before the screen gets too cluttered to move. Alternatively you can launch it into the boss's weak spot and sit back in a safer spot while it inflicts damage for you. The expert R9 pilot will use the Force in many ways, even switching it's use during combat to gain the maximum utility from this ingenious device.

It goes on. The R9 can also make use of further tool found lying around the levels of the Bydo Empire. Homing missile launchers can be attached to it's top and bottom, shield orbs can vary from following drones to orbiting setups or even fixed positions, though these vary throughout the series, and the Force itself can be powered up. Do you need powerful bouncing lasers that reflect off the scenery to get round corners? Do you need powerful magenta energy waves to send out a powerful directed pulse? Do you need streams of fire that rush along walls and the surfaces of the bigger enemies? All of these are yours for the taking when you learn the ways of the R9 - video games' most cleverly designed space craft.

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