Thunder Force III is a space shooter developed by Technosoft for the SEGA Genesis/Mega Drive and published by SEGA in 1990. The title was adapted for the arcade in 1991 under Thunder Force AC and for SNES as Thunder Spirits.
The Japanese company responsible for the game, called Sasebo Microcomputer Center initially, is located in Nagasaki. Although it has other successes, such as Plazma Line or Herzog, the Thunder Force series counted with five entries and was the most important installment of the corporation. After its acquisition by Twenty-One Company, the rights to sell its video games were left in the hands of Sega.
The title comes immediately after the events of Thunder Force II. In this case, the ORN Empire installed a cloaking device on five planets, making it impossible to locate and attack their headquarters. To make it worse, they also built a defense system called Cerberus, which was also used to eliminate allied fleets. In response, the Galaxy Federation created the FIRE LEO-03 Styx, the ship that the game's main character will use. The size of it is ideal to avoid detection of Cerberus, but with an extraordinary attack strength. The player's goal is to eliminate cloaking devices, Cerberus, and even attack the headquarters.
The gameplay is similar to that of its successor, but it changed in fundamental aspects. Firstly, the option to move in three directions was removed, so now only horizontal movement is allowed. Also, a new system was added that helps to modulate the speed at which the ship goes. Finally, when starting the game, the player can choose between 5 planets to start his adventure. In this way, he must destroy the cloaking devices on each of them and then continue with levels linearly.
The title received several graphical improvements. Although the game's colors are similar in both deliveries, the models of the ships were given a change of modeling that makes them feel unique in their way. On the other hand, the levels have very different backgrounds from the previous deliveries. Instead of fixed landscapes, they are mostly animated, psychedelic, and optimized to give a feeling of being in a 3D environment.
The music in the game is terrific. The soundtracks give a sense of sci-fi adventure that fits well with the friendly but action-packed gameplay. Similarly, the sound effects were redesigned so the player felt more comfortable listening to them. The best example of this is gunfire. These are much smoother and less generic than Thunder Force II, which was even somewhat invasive compared to the third part of the saga.
The reviews of the game were excellent. Despite marking many positive aspects of the game as the graphics, they warned that the difficulty is very significant. Likewise, far from being a negative part, this has to be taken as a challenge. If you like shooter games and are ready to face a bullet hell, this is your game; Thunder Force III will do everything possible to make you feel comfortable facing it.