☆ Retro Review: Gradius III - Super Nintendo "a million bullets flying at you from all directions" ☆ #Retrogaming

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The Intro:
There’s a point in every video game console’s life cycle when a game comes along that truly showcases the power of the hardware. 

These games push the graphical and processing capabilities of the hardware to the max, setting benchmarks for others to follow.
Inevitably, game development technology gets better and there comes a time when the hardware is barely capable of handling what is being thrown at it. 

Video Game Consoles, just like all things, get old. This is the experience we had when we first got our hands on Gradius III for the SNES, all the way back in 1991.

Originally an arcade game, Gradius III was a port that stayed true to the formula of the series – hardcore side-scrolling shooting with a million bullets flying at you from all directions. This game really benefits from the power of the SNES and features a lot more detailing than Gradius or Lifeforce.

"GRADIUS III - Arcade Flyer"


The GamePlay:
There’s a fundamental difference to the way Gradius III works, and it becomes apparent the moment you fire up the game. 

Unlike previous games in the series, Gradius III allows you to completely customize your power meter, giving you the freedom to rain down hellfire and brimstone with any combination of weapons you might want to use.

There are two selection modes – “Type Select” allows you to choose between four inbuilt loadouts, while “Edit Mode” allows you to completely customize your power meter.

There’s also a few new weapon/power options to choose from – lasers, shield configurations and attribute options.

If you’ve played Gradius before, you know what to expect – things are going to get rough, quickly. Gradius III will frequently present you with screens almost entirely filled with enemies. There are some sections that are downright impossible to navigate. Difficult games are fun, as long as they’re fair. And Gradius III is fair, but it’s sadly let down by the performance. 

Previous games in the series have had their own framerate problems, but the ageing hardware really slows things down to an absolute crawl here sometimes. Several times in each level you will have to deal with slowdowns and lag. It may turn out to your advantage in some cases, especially when you’re trying to navigate a particularly difficult section. Other times, such as during boss battles, the flickering sprites can turn into a huge distraction and lead to several inevitable, agonizing deaths.

Gradius III brings an increased sense of scale to the series, allowing players much more mobility while navigating the environment. While you still can’t move backwards, Metroidvania style, plenty of vertical movement is available and makes the battlefield seem larger. The game also throws a few curveballs at you in levels that don’t require much or any shooting but require razor-sharp control. Save your speed boosts for these stages. You’ll need them.

The Graphics:
Are so much better than the previous Gradius games, but they’re nothing out of the ordinary for the SNES. Unfortunately, the massive sprite flickering and framerate drops make the action untenable at times.

Maybe the developers could’ve sacrificed some detail for slightly smoother gameplay?

The Conclusion:
Gradius III isn’t a game for the casual player. There are plenty of weapon/configuration options you must keep track of and even then, you might not make it through. 

Excellence in combat is achieved the old school way – failing over and over until you get good. When you’re flying through a sea of enemies, narrowly dodging explosions and shooting them out of the sky, it’s a tremendously satisfying experience. 

This might be a game that is let down by the SNES hardware at times, but it is still a great side-scrolling shooter. If you’re in for a little dash of high-tech nostalgia action, give this one a go. 
Review By Brandon
Thanks to Richard for letting me guest post on his site

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