Gradius III (1990 - SNES, reviewed by Samdog)

Gradius III is an epic and imaginative space shooter. Released in 1990 by Konami, it was one of the first shooters available for the SNES. As far as this reviewer is concerned, it was also the best shooter released on the SNES. The backdrop of this game is a classic struggle of good versus evil. Good being the people of earth, and evil being the aliens that we must obliterate. Not much is known as you are immediately thrust into the front line to do battle with these creatures. One can only imagine why we are so bent on their destruction. Perhaps they breathe really loud when they eat, or fart loudly and blame it on an earthling. These scenarios are only some of the most likely in guiding our hate.

Gameplay


As a side scrolling shooter, the action is much like the R-Type series of games, where you blast alien vessels while keeping your own ship from being hit by their unbelievably slow projectiles. To add to the fun, there are upgrades you can obtain for your ship, such as speed, lasers, and floating spheres that follow you in some fashion, which also fire the same weapons you are equipped with. Before the game starts, you are able to select the upgrades for your ship so you can have different lasers, shields, and more. This adds an element of customization to the game where-as some shooters lack in this department. The choice you make follows you through the rest of the game, and each different combination of upgrades has different advantages and disadvantages. As hard as this game is on the "hard" difficulty, I recommend you attempt to finish it, as beating the game on hard will unlock a special "arcade" difficulty. After about 50 tries at "arcade" difficulty, I was finally able to conquer the game once and for all. A satisfying experience.

Graphics


This game has surprisingly good graphics for an earlier SNES game. Each level is rich in color and depth, and your ship and enemy ships look extremely good. The bosses of each level are especially a delight visually, with anything from giant bubbles to vast ships that dwarf your own, to spider-like walkers. The variance in level design are all done exquisitely graphic-wise, and engulf the player in a shooter experience like none-other.

Sound


Simply excellent. Konami is well known for offering amazing sound effects and music on the SNES platform, and this game is no different. Each level offers an intense soundtrack, which on the harder difficulties will make you sweat as you try and dodge hundreds of projectiles at a time. The SNES sound hardware is fully utilized with many explosion, crunching, and weapon sound effects.

Presentation


The presentation in this game is a no-brainer. Very simple and elegent. This reviewer had one quibble, and that was on the upgrade selection screen as it isn't immediately apparent that you can customize your upgrade options, rather than taking one of the pre-selected packages.

Final Thoughts


An excellent example of how a shooter should be. If you can find a copy of this game, I suggest you buy it, and love it. With the harder difficulties, it will keep you coming back for more, as it will challenge even the hardcore gamer.

6.5/7 Yannis:



Discuss this review