"R-Type III enjoys taking elements from the first game and then applying a generous new coat of difficulty. R-Type’s first level had you trade shots with a hulking, cannon-wielding robot as you both tore through a metallic cylinder. This is recreated with triple the number of gundam-ripoffs, but makes the last invincible, letting it pepper you with blasts until you force it to smash into the scenery."
If R-Type is a foundation future shooters built upon, R-Type 2 is an embarrassment we pretend doesn’t exist. This put Irem in an awkward position when they came to release the third game in the series: how do they appeal to the established fanbase of the first, but right the wrongs of the second? In this case, they decided to do so by reverting to earlier functions, dialling up the difficulty and adding snazzier weapons. For the most part, this worked.
In this, The Third Lightning’s opening stage even looks like an updated beginning of the first title. Moth-like enemies drift in lazily and are destroyed by a familiar mammoth laser barrage or a new overcharged stream of plasma. The same rotund hoppers are nuked for Force Divide power-ups, controllable satellites that sit on -- and can be detached from -- your craft’s nose, producing streams of extra firepower, and the same narrow openings you need to navigate without brushing the sides make numerous appearances.
The difference is found in the lines of turrets lining hard-to-shoot floors and ceilings and the indestructible crates mixed in with the flood of screen-filling scrap-metal you need dodge. The difference is when the jet boosters that you thought were bits of scenery suddenly burp out blue flames and spin the screen 90°, making the corridor you just barely navigated suddenly becomes a wall to hastily dodge.
R-Type III enjoys taking elements from the first game and then applying a generous new coat of difficulty. R-Type’s first level had you trade shots with a hulking, cannon-wielding robot as you both tore through a metallic cylinder. This is recreated with triple the number of gundam-ripoffs, but makes the last invincible, letting it pepper you with blasts until you force it to smash into the scenery.
To help battle the new difficulty curve, your Force Divide options are added to. While you’re free to select the Round Force earlier titles have included, Lightning gives you the selection of two more, allowing you to build upon your strengths by offering Divides that can act as bullet blockers or ones that can flood the screen with laser.
The difficulty turns out to be the biggest turn off, especially as the GBA port is much more challenging than the SNES original, which offers the chance to top up extra lives alongside unlimited continues. The port gives you three lives and one continue, forcing you not to play R-Type III as a whole but instead making each stage like a stand-alone game. Three lives to beat one level, collect a password then lay siege to the next with the same limitations. It may delight the hardcore fan, but it’s mission impossible for those unwilling to invest hours in memorising enemy movement and level structure.
If you’ve the patience to munch though the difficulty, then you’ll uncover a well of satisfaction. If you don’t, you’ll find a game all too happy to provide yet another destroyed fighter and a Game Over screen.
If you enjoyed this R-Type III: The Third Lightning review, you're encouraged to discuss it with the author and with other members of the site's community. If you don't already have an HonestGamers account, you can sign up for one in a snap. Thank you for reading!