Thunder Force III

-Techno Soft (1990)



The Story

It has been 100 years since the war with the Empire of Lone began. The passing of time has brought technological advances on both sides, but more-so the side of evil. The Empire has recently cloaked their now mostly mechanical home planet Orn with the hexa-cloaking-system that is being powered on the five other planets in the star system, Hydra, Gorgon, Seiren, Haides, and Ellis. The Galaxy Unionís new project, Thunder Force III, is the final step in defeating Orn. The newly developed starfighter Fire Leo 3, code named STYX for no reason, is the last hope to bring down the Empire of Lone.     

My Thoughts

Thunder Force III was a heralded as an incredible shooter for its time. I remember seeing someone playing it at a local rental store and being amazed at the fire level. If you are unfamiliar with the stage, it features a sine wave background of flame that is constantly moving as you play through the stage. Itís an amazing thing to behold the first time you see it, especially when the speed of the level goes to Sonic the Hedgehog fast and the game doesnít even hiccup.  

Overall, the rest of the stages are good. The five planets are all completely different in their environments and some have a few surprises. Hydra is a lush, but ugly forest planet, Gorgon is the fire/lava planet, and Seiren is all water. On the planet Haides you fly through a big cavern where the scenery will move and shift. You'll need to move out of the way quickly of be crushed. It also has a waterfall that will do crazy things to your eyes. Ellis is a majestic snowy mountain world with diagonally and vertically scrolling parts. Once the five planets are defeated then itís off to a fight with the Cerberus space cruiser and then into a few stages in the cyberized planet of Orn. To spice things up Thunder Force III lets you choose which of the first five stages you want to start in and added the ability to change the speed of your ship. 

Some of the bosses of these stages are based on actual creatures. The boss of Hydra is supposed to be a fearsome gargoyle but I swear itís a giant flame-shooting chicken. Gorgon features two mechanical crabby things. Seiren has a nifty red fish-type boss that fires big ring lasers and Haides has a red rock lobster that may be more fitting in a Darius game. The boss of Ellis is a large flying tank-like craft. The Cerberus space cruiser stage is basically the boss, as you need to destroy the core of the ship once you blast through the outer hull. The second to last boss is a big wall with four boxes that are constantly moving in your flight space. The final boss is just a big core.

Unfortunately, all of the bosses are really easy in this game. Even if the only weapon you use is the twin shot youíll be able to beat them in less than a minute and it only takes a few seconds when using a more powerful weapon. The only boss that is really any of a challenge is the final one, called CHA OS. It throws a lot of shots at you at once, but still doesnít take a ton of hits to destroy it. Aside from a couple tricky maneuvering points, the whole game is easy. The only way to get a challenge from the game is to enter the options screen and change the difficulty to hard or mania. Mania mode is truly for the insane, but then thatís the point. Extra lives also seem to be given out like candy at a parade. Every time I looked at the number of lives I had there was another one or two added.

Thunder Force's main claim to fame is the great choice or weaponry which continues in part three, although there are only about half as many as Thunder Force II. This time the twin shot can be upgraded to sever, which is essentially a laser beam. Back fire is upgradeable to the lancer, a diamond shaped laser that fires more shots in the rear. The wave shot returns but now will break off and continue to fire on if one part of it is hitting an enemy. A new weapon, fire, shoots from the top an bottom of the ship and moves along the scenery until it hits an enemy or falls off screen. The cool energy homing hunter is back along with the claws and a more steam-lined shield. Also, unlike Thunder Force II where you lost all your weapons when you died, in TFIII you only lose the weapon you had equipped at the time, further adding to the relative ease of the game

One the game is completed youíre treated to a very awkwardly worded ending and a few cinematic stills. Thunder Force III is a good shooter with nice visuals, music, and some inventive stages, itís just odd how easy it is compared to all the other Thunder Force games.

Score: 7.5 


More hot Thunder Force action:

Thunder Force II, Thunder Force AC, Thunder Spirits, Lightening Force, Thunder Force V