Gradius III

I’ll use this space to say the star of the game is the Vic Viper.

Review Date: May 8, 2021

Release Date: August 23, 1991

Platform: SNES

Publisher: Konami

Genre: Shooter

Anecdotes: This game started the pun wars. Shooting off one after another, my brother and I would get laser focused on them and it turned into a competition. Because each stage has a unique theme, we would exercise our option to rattle off some groaners, particularly in the first six stages. We’d start immediately in stage 1, hoping the puns don’t dry up. They never did, though, as in stage 2, the puns would bubble up and we’d soak them in. In stage 3, things would get a bit rocky, but we would still land a few good ones. Then we’d face stage 4 and try to get a-head of the competition. By stage 5, the competition got heated up, and one of would get on fire with pun after pun now that we were warmed up. By stage 6, it was time to plant the seeds of victory. We actually would stop in stage 7 because whoever was playing needed to concentrate.

Description: It’s Vic Viper vs. Bacterion again, and this time, there are 10 stages and a bunch of new weapons. The basics of Gradius still apply; the ship crashes in one hit, the powerup bar remains at the bottom, and stages generally go left to right with a minimal amount of vertical movement.


-The biggest thing Konami added was an option for difficulty levels. For players like me, this is a huge plus. Game 1 was impossible. Game 2 was hard, but playable. Game 3 gives players the choice. What’s nice is that Gradius didn’t give up its essence; the ship still crashes in a single hit. Upgrades still disappear with a lost ship. The biggest difference I noticed was the lack of bullets flying around. They’re not completely gone, but they are reduced.

-Konami also added some new items to obtain. Missiles can now be fired backward or can run the ground. There are others, but the standout of the pack is the Energy Laser. Konami borrowed a page from their Castlevania playbook by making one weapon more powerful than the rest. Here, it’s the E. Laser. It destroys bosses quickly. It can take out multiple enemies in one shot. It can also form a protective layer around the ship, but the ship is still vulnerable to bullets at all times and vulnerable to enemies in between shots.

There are lots of great options here. This is what I chose.


-Really, there aren’t many, but the biggest is the limited continue system. They should have gone with either infinite continues or a save system. I hear, though, there are hidden codes to remedy that.


I messed up. I dune not know what happened.
I turned this thing to sand in about three seconds, then I had to desert the place.
It’s time to pop in on stage 2.
This bubble got blown away in about 15 seconds.
Stage 3 rocks. The boss is just a stone’s throw away.
This boss requires a laser focus.
I hate to face these guys. I’ll just head for the opening.
Boss #5 can be easily beaten if players just fire shots at the heads.
This thing really sucks, so players will need at least two speed upgrades to plant the ship in the corner.
Oh shoot! I thought this was easy mode?!?!
As a fun twist, the game puts a high speed area in, which I call the HyperZone. I ran out of lives and continues, so I’m going back on Zoom.

Final Opinion: Konami put it all together and produced a Gradius game much better than the first two. It looks good and plays well.

Grade: A

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