R-Type III is an interesting title in many ways. Firstly, it was a console exclusive, which generated quite a stir when it was first published. Secondly it takes advantage of the Super NES 'Mode 7' graphics to bring rotating backgrounds into play. Thirdly, it's one of the few decent 2D side-scrolling shooters on the Super Nintendo. Most SNES shooters are rife with slowdown, and R-Type III is no exception. Thankfully Irem have coded to the strengths of the SNES and have tried to avoid having too many 'slow-mo' incidents.
Much like the original R-Type you can pick up a drone called ‘The Force’ which is indestructible to assist you in your battle against Bydo. The game lets you choose between three Force types. Each has its own unique ability, such as the 4-way blaster, or a high speed return system, which lets you quickly return the Force to your ship.
This becomes integral to survival, for when the Force is detached from your ship, while offering offensive capabilities; they do nothing to physically protect your ship. While attached, however, they provide protection from enemies either in front or behind, depending on which end of your ship you choose to place the drone.
The action is fast and furious, and a seemingly endless stream of relentless attackers is constantly thrust upon you. Holding X emits a rapid fire blaster from the ship, while holding Y lets you charge up for a big blast. By pressing R the power-up mode is changed, allowing for yet another powerful burst, as well as the discharge of rapid fire explosive ammunition. The trade-off with this more powerful attack is that your ship overheats and you lose your charge ability temporarily.
The game can be fairly unforgiving, and this can lead to a good deal of frustration. Your ship only takes one hit to be destroyed, whether it's from a tiny projectile that sneaks up on you from behind, or even you accidentally grazing the top of the screen as you concentrate your fire elsewhere. Further, there is no adjustable difficulty setting; this is perhaps balanced out by the fact that even after losing three ships and the game over screen appears, you can press continue and pick up right where you left off.
R-Type fans will most likely have already played this game, but to those of you who have enjoyed the excellent Turbografx version which is also available on the Virtual Console this is the next logical step.