Top 100 SNES Game: #52 – Gradius III (1991)

Anxiety Attack With a Large Coffee.

How much stimulus can the human mind handle? Exactly enough to juggle and dodge 1300 sprites of doom. 

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A Gradius III and Double Dragon cross over?

Sydlexia’s Ranking: #52/100
Developer: Konami
My Rating: cropped-smooth-starcropped-smooth-starcropped-smooth-star

One theory for general anxiety disorder is that it’s due to some lowering of neuron-firing threshold. The entire nervous system is more excitable, and it takes very little stimulus to get widespread action potentials promulgating through your central nervous system.

If you don’t have this problem, Gradius III will surely give it to you: one-hit death, complicated bosses, tricky navigation, a hundred projectiles. While some might view beating the game as an accomplishment, I believe getting through it without increased cortisol levels more of a feat.

[Plot] Here are some scant details from Wikipedia: “The player returns as the role of the pilot of the Vic Viper starfighter to battle the onslaughts of the Bacterion Empire.” Good enough for me.

[Concept] The classic side-scrolling, starship-shooting adventure, Gradius III allows you to customize your ship with blaster patterns, shield types and power up choices. As you navigate this tense world, some enemies (the red colored ones) drop power ups that you can reclaim at your discretion.  You can  hold out to get the higher upgrades by stringing together powerups  or get several of the lower-rated ones quickly to help your cause.

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Living the dream with four options: spheres that imitate your ships firepower and are almost invincible.

[Gameplay] This customization gives the gameplay even more enjoyment as which powerups you choose dictates how you play. It is very important to be comfortable as you are going to have enough stress as it is. Half-way through, I somehow mastered a technique of where I no longer focused on my ship: I was able to let my eyes drift apart to pick up any flash of incoming missile and deftly dodge them.

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And this is way less busy than what you normally face.

The biggest emotional toll this game can do to you is the one-hit death: you finally have the perfect set up, and death comes from a stray shot. When you come back, you start over. This created some pretty frustrating moments, as having to start back with nothing can be almost unfair depending on your save location. You can tell pretty quickly that this game was originally a quarter-inhaler: the end of one stage you face probably five bosses back-to-back, and I can’t imagine the financial toll this took on people who thought they were close to beating the game in the arcade.

Panic attack aside, Gradius III is fun, and sometimes you do enter a moment of zen: you become so mindlessly adept at dodging and in-tune with handling the spaceship that you forget yourself in the present moment. Then a column of Mayan statues appear causing you to die upon impact. ADRENAL GLANDS FIRE.  

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