Thunder Force III is a scrolling shooter game developed by Tecno Soft. It is the third chapter in the Thunder Force series. It was released in 1990 in Japan, Europe and the United States for the Megadrive/Genesis game console. During the same year, it was retooled into an arcade game named Thunder Force AC. In 1991, Thunder Force AC was ported to the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, and was renamed Thunder Spirits (presumably because the Thunder Force franchise was associated with Sega).
In September 2016, at the Tokyo Game Show, Sega announced that they owned all the intellectual property rights of Tecno Soft. To commemorate this, Sega re-released Thunder Force III in 3D as part of Sega 3D Fukkoku Archives 3: Final Stage (Sega 3D Classics Collection 3) for the Nintendo 3DS.
Apparently, despite their successes, the Galaxy Federation has not been faring well in their battle against the ORN Empire. ORN has installed cloaking devices on five major planets in their space territory that conceal their main base, making it difficult for the Galaxy Federation to locate and attack their headquarters. In addition, ORN has built a remote defense system to protect itself named Cerberus, which is especially efficient at neutralizing large ships and fleets. Knowing this, the Galaxy Federation creates the Fire LEO-03 "Styx"; a craft small enough to avoid detection by Cerberus, yet equipped with the firepower of a large starfighter. The Galaxy Federation deploys Styx on a mission to destroy the five cloaking devices, infiltrate the Empire's headquarters, and destroy its emperor, the bio-computer "Cha Os".
For Thunder Force III, the free-directional, overhead stage format featured in the previous two games is removed and replaced entirely by the horizontally aligned stage format. The horizontal format becomes the new standard for the following games.
The player is allowed to choose which of the initial five planets (Hydra, Gorgon, Seiren, Haides, and Ellis), to start on. After the first five stages are completed, the game continues for a few more stages into ORN headquarters.
The weapon system from Thunder Force II returns in this game, with some modifications. Some weapons from Thunder Force II are reused or modified slightly (the enhanceable Twin shot and Back shot remain the defaults), while others are completely new and exclusive to the game.
This time, when the player's ship is destroyed, only the weapon that was currently in use is lost (unless it is a default weapon and assuming the game is operating of the default difficulty settings). CLAWs also make their return and have the same behavior and functions, except now when the player collects the CLAW item, the ship automatically receives its maximum two CLAWs (again, CLAWs are lost upon ship destruction). Also, when using most weapons, the CLAWs will mimic the ship and fire the same weapon (similar to the Options in Gradius games). The final new addition is that the player's ship now has a speed setting, which can be increased or decreased across four levels at the press of a button.
Differences between versionsEdit
The main difference between Thunder Force III and its variations, AC and Spirits, is that the "Haides" and "Ellis" stages in Thunder Force III are not found in the variations and are replaced with entirely new stages. The variations also removed Thunder Force III's gameplay option to choose the starting stage and always start on the "Hydra" stage. Besides these changes, the versions play about the same, although slowdown varies and the music instruments, and some of the tracks, are considerably different.