Believe it or not, the fact that someone has taken a beloved, 2D arcade shoot 'em-up and turned it into a turn-based strategy game played on a hex grid is not the craziest thing about R-Type Command. No, the nuttiest thing is just how beautifully the bloody thing works. Borrowing equally from strategy RPGs and Nintendo’s Advance Wars series, this is an experiment that succeds beautifully.
The fog of war – the game hides enemies until you’re close enough to see them – neatly recreates the suspense of playing a typical scrolling shooter and wondering what life-squelching horror is going to slide into view next. You feel a real punch to the gut the first time the fog clears and you see a pulsating, alien-headed space-boss the size of a skyscraper, complete with tentacles that can knock you clean out of the sky. And there's a tangible sense of "Oh, crap" when you tiptoe two little steps ahead and seven enemy ships, including a hulking destroyer, pop into view just a few spaces away.
It’s deep stuff, too. Each craft has a range of powers, from hull-shearing energy beams to the ability to turn invisible or morph into another unit altogether. And you constantly collect materials and plans for newer models - there are more than 80 different units in all. So you can assemble a fleet of fighters, bombers, mechs and “force” units - basically battering rams made of pure energy, which can act on their own or attach to fighter craft for extra damaging beam weapons – that’s perfect for your fighting style.
Battles take place in rounds. You move all of your various laser-enhanced death machines, one by one, around the grid and take a shot at any enemies in range. Then, the other team does the same and the process starts over until the match ends - typically when one side's capital ship is blasted into either shrapnel or space meat, depending upon whether you’re the humans or the aliens.