game Cover
game cartridge
©Konami 1990
Release: 1990-12-21 (¥7800)
Cartridge SHVC-G3
Shooter / Horizontal

American Version
Released in America as
( SNS-G3-USA )
Gradius III is a side-scrolling shooter by Konami and based on the hit arcade game originally released in 1989. The monstrous Bacterion Empire is back in its pursuit of transforming whole planets into hideous and frightful alien worlds. The Vic Viper star fighter returns once again to save planet Gradius and the universe. Gradius III follows the formula set by its predecessors, requiring the player to collect and accumulate pulsating power pods (dropped by orange enemy ships), and to select power-ups from the power meter located at the bottom of the screen. However, this installment is probably the first one to offer an edit mode that allows the player to fully customize the power meter as he wishes. At the beginning of the game, players can choose their favorite power configuration out of a pool of eligible items - they include several different missiles (normal, hawk wind, 2 way back, small spread), doubles (vectical, double, tail gun, back double, lasers (twin, ripple, energy laser, cyclone Laser, options (option, snake Option, formation option, rolling option), shields (shield, force field, rolling shield, reduce) and specials (speed down, remain option, full barrier, Mega Crush). Gradius III features ten levels and several hidden bonus stages.
Gradius (Fc) Gradius (Pce-Hu)
Salamander (Fc) Salamander (Pce-Hu)
Gradius II (Fc) Gradius II (Pce-SCDRom²)
Non-direct relation : Parodius Da! (Fc) Parodius Da! (Pce-Hu)
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Gradius III - arcade The Gradius III Densetsu kara Shinwa he ("Gradius III From legend to myth") arcade game was originally released in 1989 (picture on the right). It was then ported to the Super Famicom in 1991 (version tested here), and later included in Gradius III & IV Fukkatsu no Shinwa (Playstation 2, 2000) and the Gradius Collection (PSP, 2006).

This port of Gradius III shows significant differences with the original arcade game. The power-ups have been shuffled around and the Super Famicom port even features new and exclusive weapons (such as the Hawk Wind or the Mega Crush), and two extra option configurations (whereas the arcade game had only two on offer). Most of the levels have been edited and some of the enemies have been altered, or omitted. In the first stage, the Gradius III - arcade sand lions were removed. The third stage has lost the large cave/maze section (and is therefore shorter) and the earthquake effect (screen shake) is gone. Then the short "3D" bonus section located right after the third stage was completely removed from the Super Famicom port (picture on the left). The forth Moai stage has lost the large heads flying towards the player, and the mini-boss Dogas was removed. The Moai boss is also different and features two large heads (unlike the arcade game which featured six). Then the sixth 'Cell' stage from the arcade was truncated and moved to the end of the game, so the fifth stage of the Super Famicom port is the 'Fire' level which was too, largely edited. The most noticable change is the loss of the large three-headed fire Wyvern that awaits the player right before the snake-looking Vulture Dragon boss. The sixth 'Plant' stage is fairly identical, except maybe for the last boss who has lost a couple of tentacles in the conversion. The seventh stage is in reality what is commonly called the 'High Speed Zone' (and which is featured a lot later in the arcade game), and replaces the Crystal stage from the arcade game (which was discarded). This 'extra' stage also introduces an exclusive boss called 'Beacon' not found in the arcade game. The eighth stage is the 'Boss Rush', and many bosses didn't make the cut, such as Lizard Core (from the Crystal stage) and Tetran. Most of the boss rush takes place on the surface of a pink asteroid which was replaced by a much simpler space background in the Super Famicom port. The ninth stage is the Mechanical Base, the small Shadow Dancers does not appear in the Super Famicom port and the battle against the 'Disrupt' sub-boss is overall easier (the arcade game has walls that shoot out of the ground and a lot more enemies on screen). 'Shadow Gear' also looks completely different and has lost four legs. The tenth stage is where the organic 'Cell' stage kicks in - it is overall a lot shorter than the arcade game.

see Gradius(Pce-Hu) for more information about the Gradius series.

Teaser text from the American version:
The gentle Gradians thought they were cured of Bacterion's contemptible curse after generations of germ-free living. Guess again. That wreched fiend is once again wreaking havoc on Gradius and the surrounding planets. It's your destiny to put an end to it. Unless maybe you think life as an amoeba would be pleasant! You play a key role in engineering your M.A.X. starship's battle gear and arsenal. You'll use masterful marksmanship and strategy to engage the right weapon at the right time, like spread bombs, ripple lasers, photon torpedoes, mega crush and much more. Do so and you'll gallantly conquer the galactic gargoyles and obstacles in ten Terror Zones, such as the Dunes of Doom, Bacterion's Garden, and The Greased Lightning Round. Just when you think you've made it through each of the Zones, you'll be greated by a hideous Mayor who will try to see that his Zone is your last. Choose from three difficulty levels to see just how keen your alien zapping skills are. Throughout your journey, you will be engulfed in magnificent stereo sound and stunning visual effects that will dazzle your senses. In the final forum, you'll have to be as tough as Orakian ore to confront Bacterion and disintegrate its hailstone of a heart. If you do, all that is good in the universe will breathe a sigh of relief. And if you don't, you'll hear the echo of a solitary clap and the final Dark Curtain will fall.

Game Staff (Copied from the end credits) :


Game Programmer
K. Hashimoto
T. Tokuda
Y. Matsuhana
H. Takahama
Graphic Designer
T. Miyoshi
H. Morii
M. Suenaga
Sound Editor
K. Muraoka
K. Uehara
H. Ueko
Y. Morimoto

Visual Design
K. Shimoide


Gradius III - manual
Click on picture to enlarge

Konami code:
The traditional Konami code in Gradius III has an surprising twist. If you press up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, B and A, then the Vic Viper self destructs! The real Konami code for this Super Famicom port is up, up, down, down, L-Shoulder, R-Shoulder, L-Shoulder, R-Shoulder, B and A - this grants you all the power-ups.

Extra credits:
At the title screen, rapidly press X to increase the number of credits.

Arcade mode:
At the option screen, try to hit A sixteen times as fast as possible (it has to be done within one second which is rather difficult, I'd advise you to use a turbo controller if you are not quick enough). If done properly, the Arcade option should appear in the difficulty level. Technically, this mode is just a super-hard mode.

30 ships:
At the title screen, hold Left and press A three times.

Add your Pov here !

Gradius III is an incredible shooter that keeps your blood going for sure. There is a major caveat though - the game is fairly hard and suffers from atrocious slow downs (probably the worst I have even seen for the system, well... keep in mind it was a launch title though). But at least it's far more playable than its arcade parent which was plagued with an excessive and unapologetically brutal difficulty level. This port is still a formidable challenge to complete, and chances are you won't see the end of Gradius III for a good long while. In the Gradius tradition, biting the dust and losing a life also means losing all your power ups - and you'll probably be too weak and slow to complete the level, except for a miracle. It is a shame because the game is graphically stunning with truly awesome bosses and stages, and despite these frustrating flaws (common to many Gradius games), Gradius III is an amazing shooter, full of intense and fun moments. I totally recommend it, but be aware of its fairly high difficulty level.

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