Following the events of Thunder Force II, the Galaxy Federation are no closer to defeating the ORN Empire. The ORN Empire have installed cloaking devices on five major planets, in order to keep the Federation from locating their base. The Federation dispatches the small, heavily armed ship Styx, to destroy these cloaking devices and the ORN's main base. -summary
I still remember the excitement when this sequel made its way into my hands about 20 years ago. It was truly amazing and ground breaking to me then, and even now it still holds up. Thunder Force III for the Sega Genesis, which was originally released in 1990, is still a tough as nails game, and although it feels kind of dated, it's still a highly challenging experience.
Thunder Force III is a single player, horizontal space shooter, and your objective is to blast through a certain amount of stages and destroy the end stage boss. This sequel kind of takes a step back in its game play to me, by completely abandoning the over head, vertical element that was in the previous game. Personally, I enjoyed the secondary playing field because it added a bit more variety in terms of game play and even in additional weapons. I always felt that the depth of the game took a blow to it. In addition, the weapons list has been shortened, but I won't complain much here, since the weapons and upgrades you are given this time around are still incredible.
Thunder Force III gives you the option of choosing one out of five stages. There actually is a safe way of approaching this, but I think all players should come into this ignorant from that point of view. The stages are quite different in style, appearance, and even enemies. But the one element that stands out is the difficulty. Make no mistake, the game is hard and it's possible to die completely in the first stage, and each of the stages become more difficult with hordes of enemies and traps. As all games of this style, eye coordination and memory is key, with the latter playing the hugest role. Sometimes enemies will sneak up from behind and take you out easily, but if it happens once then chances are it won't happen again.
The ship is well equipped and begins with a twin blaster and a back shot, that fires a single stream of bullets to the front and rear. Other weapons can be picked up by blasting smaller weapon ships to reveal an icon. You can still pick up force fields as in the previous game, but this time, it doesn't go away on its own, instead, you have to take several hits. The claw weapon returns and assists you firing the exact same weapon you're using. When your ship is destroyed, you do not lose all of your weapons as in the previous game, however, you lose the one that was in use. The ship also returns after death, therefore, you don't have to replay a stage unless you decide to continue. Like the last game, there are also boss battles, but I don't think they're anywhere near as challenging. The bosses can be easily beaten, and if you have all of your weapons, then battles are even simpler. Length also plays a negative factor, as the game is pretty short.
I definitely enjoy the stage set ups, as each of them have their own distinct setting and specific enemies. For example, the fire stage is engulfed in flames, and some of the enemies are made of fire, such as flaming birds hovering through out the stage. There's also a water and a snow stage, with some amazing enemy craft. Unfortunately, you will die a lot of cheap deaths, and frustration will begin to set in. Thankfully, the stage enemies do follow a certain pattern, and eventually, the game will be figured out and it becomes very possible to beat it without dying once.
The controls use all the buttons are responsive, and it's easy to switch between weapons. The ship can also increase and decrease its speed. There's nothing negative to point out in this area.
The visuals are amazing with some incredible backgrounds. The fire stage, Gorgon, looks really good with pillars of flame waving in the backgrounds. For a 16 bit game, Thunder Force III is still amazing. The boss designs are very good also, and some of them have nice animation. I think the sound is indeed lacking when compared to the last game. The voice overs when weapons are picked up really aren't as clear, but the soundtrack is where this game rules. Thunder Force has become legendary amongst old school gamers, and the BGM is responsible for that. There are just some amazing pieces of techno music, that I can listen to over and over, and the music gets better for the sequels.
Once the game is finished there is very little reason to continue. It's possible to make it through this entire game without dying once everything is memorized, but it's still a great game, and among the best shooters of the 16 bit era. It even trumps shooters that would come out later. Highly recommended to the old time gamer.
-Incredible sound track
-Intense graphics and backgrounds
-Lacking depth of 2nd game
What did you think of this review?