In most of my reviews, I speak very highly about what all the Game Boy Advance can do. In all honesty, the system continues to surprise me more than any of the other next-gen consoles that are out on the market today. But, occasionally, a couple of bad games make it through and are released on the GBA. Unfortunately, that game is R-TYPE III: THE THIRD LIGHTNING, one of the best Super Nintendo shooters ever released.
You would think that, as long as the Game Boy Advance has been out, it would be really easy to port classic SNES games onto it. I mean, there are too many games to list that are good ports of games that we've all played on the Super Nintendo. But somehow, somewhere, R-TYPE III went awry.
The main difference between shooters like R-TYPE and GRADIUS is that, in R-TYPE, enemy ships aren't the only things that can kill you. Within each stage are tunnels, mazes and traps you must get through to reach the next level. Some of these are simple enough, requiring you to just basically follow the path, but others require a little more thought, like with a rotating background or weaponry from the level firing at you. The enemy ships, unlike in GRADIUS, serve mainly as distractions for the upcoming mazes (not to say that they can't kill you).
Within these mazes and such, you'll have to squeeze through some very tight spots or maneuver around enemies of other random things scattered throughout the level. Herein lies the first problem: in the original version of R-TYPE III for the SNES, the game had pretty good collision detection. Unfortunately, a lot of that was lost in the port. There will be many of times where you could bet your life that you didn't run into that wall or enemy ship, and nine times out of ten you will be correct. During some stages during the game, you are able to be killed by things that aren't even on screen. While it doesn't make R-TYPE unplayable, it definitely kills your mood to play.
There is also a Force Device that you can attach to your ship, which functions as a variety of different things. It has different uses for the weaponry in the game, but it also serves as a shield which can normally deflect stray bullets or debris. It is also used to attack enemies that are ahead of you, clearing the way before you get there. Problem is, its use has a few problems. In the SNES version, the device would return to you as very quickly after dispatching the enemy or enemies. Now, it comes back very slowly, leaving you a tad more vulnerable. Also, the device will also go where the enemies aren't, thus ruining one of its main features.
R-TYPE III does look pretty nice, which is good to see that it at least looks like its SNES counterpart. Unfortunately, somehow the sound got completely butchered along the way to this cart. The cool rock tracks have been replaced by these nice, high pitched screeching noises. This is definitely a game to turn the volume down on. And where the heck did the two-player mode go?
As good of a game as R-TYPE III was, it's a shame about how this port turned out. It really feels rushed, as many of the bugs in the game should have been stamped out pretty early on in development.