Review: R-Type III: The Third Lightning

Genre: Shooter
Platform: GBA
Rating: E
Publisher: Destination Software
Developer: Raylight Studios
Release Date: 03/16/2004

I’m normally the last one to laud porting SNES games to the GBA, but when it’s shooter greatness like Irem’s classic R-Type III: The Third Lightning, you have my full support.

The SNES launched with Super R-Type, but like many shooters of the day, it suffered from nasty slowdown. I don’t know about you, but slowdown in a shooter can really throw my game off, especially since the R-Type series was never super-speedy anyway. Once R-Type III came around, however, shooter freaks were most pleased. There’s been many more titles in the series since then, but III has long been hailed as the greatest. It’s sad that the recent R-Type Final is the last game we’ll see in the series, but at least we went out with a bang. (If you want to know more about R-Type Final, go read Alex Lucard’s funky review in the PS2 section.) Anyways, in the meantime, R-Type III should bring in plenty of new fans. And if it doesn’t…well, I blame the government.

STORY

Simple and to the point: the alien Bydo Empire f*cked up their first two invasion plans, so now they want to make like Bender and kill all humans. And guess what, your pansy ass gets to jump in the untested R-90 space fighter and defend humanity. Tough luck, huh. Luckily, you’ve got three different kinds of Force pods to help you on your mission, but unluckily, you’ve still got an alien armada to deal with! Man, this pilot must’ve really pissed off his superiors to get stuck with this job. Maybe they caught him nailing a general’s daughter or something.

The basic plot is fairly cliché, but do you really want some deep involving story in a shooter? Plots belong in RPGs and adventure games. Disgusting aliens, heavy weaponry, and disastrous violations of the laws of physics belong in shooters. (Rating: 5/10)

GAMEPLAY

Like any shooter, the gameplay is where R-Type III really shines. Here’s how it works. You’ve got your little R-90 ship flying around, but you also have something called a Force pod. There’s three to choose from when the game starts: Round, Shadow, and Cyclone. Depending on which one you choose, you’ll acquire different weapons and abilities as you destroy enemies and nab powerups.

There’s three different colors of weapon powerups, and that combined with which Force Unit you chose will determine what weapons you acquire. Some weapons can even destroy enemy shots, which is extremely important. You can get up to five speed boosters, too, which are extremely important as the R-90 is rather slow on its own.

The core of any R-Type games is learning to use your Force Unit with skill, and R-Type III is no different. After getting a powerup, your Force Unit will attach itself to the front of the R-90, though it can also be released to attack on its own. Touching the Force Unit will reattach it to your ship, either in the front or the back. You’d think that leaving the thing up front where it can blast the piss out of oncoming enemies would be best, but it’s really not; many levels have enemies jumping you from behind, so some strategy is required to decided when to shift the Force Unit to the rear. Of course, you’ll likely lose many ships in the process of figuring all of this out, but you can’t make an omelette without breaking some eggs. (Rating: 10/10)

GRAPHICS

Holy f*ckin’ Moses. I’d almost forgotten how gorgeous this game really is, even for something over a decade old. R-Type III was ported over by Raylight Studios, who put their BlueRoses 3D engine to good use. No slowdown, and incredibly smooth sprite rotation effects. Even when using a GB Player, the graphics are lush and detailed. Alien innards never looked so good! (Rating: 9/10)

SOUND

Every game has its low point, and the sound is definitely it for R-Type III. While the various sound effects (lasers, missiles, explosions, alien guts splattering, etc.) are clear and varied, the music sucks. And I mean horribly sucks. I realize that a) you don’t play shooters for the music, and b) it’s just a port, not a remake, but come the f*ck on. I’ve heard shitty Sega Genesis music that sounded better than this! (Rating: 3/10)

CONTROL

Spot on. Everything responds the way it should, so there’s absolutely no way you can blame the controls if you suck at this game. The control scheme is simple enough: “A” fires your main cannon, and holding down “A” charges your Beam or Hyper cannon; “B” is autofire, though it’s rather slow; “L” releases/returns your Force Unit, and “R” switches between your Beam and Hyper cannons. This is a great game to play on the GB Player with an arcade joystick, especially since you can mash the hell out of the “A” button to fire faster (trust me, the “B” autofire f*cking sucks, but that’s not a control issue). (Rating: 9/10)

REPLAYABILITY

If you like shooters, you’ll keep blasting through the Bydo forces over and over again. The game’s only six stages long, but they’re never boring, even after repeated plays. And since there’s three different Force types, it’s worth it to try and beat the game with each one to try out new attacks and strategies. (Rating: 9/10)

BALANCE

Even though the game’s very difficult, it is beatable, and not by sheer luck. Games like R-Type III take practice, memorization, and strategy. It’s not a good choice for newbies, but you never know; they could be sadomasochistic freaks who don’t know it yet. The toughness of the game is offset by brilliant level design, so if you die, it’s simply because you suck. (Rating: 8/10)

ORIGINALITY

Unfortunately, since this is a straight port of an existing game with no changes (that I’m aware of, anyway), it gets zero points for this category. This’ll sting the final score, but such is life. Sorry guys. (Rating: 0/10)

ADDICTIVENESS

If you get blowed up real good by the first wave of enemies, you’ll play again to defeat them. When the next wave kicks your ass, you’ll play again to wipe them out. And when the first monstrous boss makes you its bitch, you’ll play through the entire level again just to make him suffer. Am I getting my point across? (Rating: 9/10)

APPEAL

Shooter fans who’ve never played R-Type III will adore it. R-Type fans know and love the game, and still won’t be able to put it down. Mega-hardcore R-Type fans are still playing the original on their SNES consoles, but that’s still a testament to this game’s longevity. Casual gamers will likely hate this game, due to the difficulty level and lack of swearing and boobs. But then again, this game wasn’t designed with them in mind. (Rating: 8/10)

MISCELLANEOUS

What the f*ck else have I got to say? Uh…the boxart sucks, but the manual’s nice? Can’t complain about the price, either…$19.99 is dirt for a game of this caliber. (Rating: 8/10)

Final Scores:

Story: 5/10
Gameplay: 10/10
Graphics: 9/10
Sound: 3/10
Control: 9/10
Replayability: 9/10
Balance: 8/10
Originality: 0/10
Addictiveness: 9/10
Appeal: 8/10
Miscellaneous: 8/10