F*ck*ng hell Gradius is hard! I mean, I like to think of myself as a casual gamer that been around a fair few games over the decades, and cut my teeth on hard as nails controls and gameplay difficulty playing Amstrad/Spectrum titles of old… but this… this is a whole new level of pain.
Yet it’s still fun! Probably down to the sheer amount of power ups you get during the average gameplay session. Sure, the first gripe is the slowdown that happens thanks to the SNES’s limitations which dependent on your view is either an advantage when it comes to dodging bullets, or an annoyance when both sound and screen are chugging away until the sprite count reduces to enable the cpu to catch up.
But again, comparing this to the arcade version (which I lost much money in during each summer holiday in my younger days) you can customise your loadout with the usual missiles, bombs, lasers as per every shoot-em-up of the era. The bosses are inventive and a nice challenge to work out their patterns to ease destruction, and the levels stay varied enough to keep you interested for the length of the game.
On the whole, Gradius III is still a great game to pickup and play even now, and a must have in a collection, my only recommendation would be to run this through a retron 3/5 to reduce some of that lag time during screen congestion. Or if you fancy taking a slightly cheaper route, a copy was released on PlayStation which will eliminate the issues raised and is more an arcade perfect version (if you prefer).