How to Play the Arcade Version of Gradius 3

The SNES version of Gradius 3 differs greatly from the Arcade version. The Arcade version has more stages, enemies, and even a 3D stage, but is extremely hard, and you'll have to restart from the beginning after you lose all your lives. This will help you get an edge in this version.


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    Choose the right weapons. Success depends on the ability to destroy enemies above, below, in front of, and behind you. For beginners, standard missiles or small spread is recommended, along with either 2-way double or Tailgun double, and either a ripple laser or energy laser.
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    Use powerups in the right order. Use the first capsule you get for speed up. For the rest of stage 1, you shouldn't need any more speed. Use the next two capsules to obtain missile, then laser or double. After this, focus on obtaining the options, as this will greatly improve your chances of survival.
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    Dodge foes. The lions in Stage 1 can fire balls of sand from their mouths that fragment if you shoot them. Concentrate on them with your missiles or concentrated standard/double shots. Same goes for the sand dragons and hatches.
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    Beat the boss. The worm boss has two sets of pincers, and both must be open before you can target it's core. Also, spiders will work their way across the screen, stringing it up with web. The web is harmless, but shoot the spiders to avoid a collision with them. also, try staying in a fixed position shooting at the core. the boss fires a fragmentable shot. Shoot it, and if a fragment is headed towards you, move out of its way, then back.


  • Standard dropping missiles pack an incredible punch when you fly directly over a target, as they come out in rapid succession.
  • The Energy Laser functions better at close range than as a charged shot. you may be disappointed at the lack of damage even a fully charged shot does, so instead, concentrate on touching enemies with it instead of releasing shots. You'll find it works much better this way, and as the orb grows, it'll surround your ship, protecting you from collisions with destructible objects. This shielding is particularly handy against the stage 2 boss.
  • Depending on the version of Gradius 3 (Japan, Asia, or world), you may be able to keep some weapons when you are killed and revived. Depending on what you had:
    • first time, you lose your options.
    • second time, you lose your laser.
    • third, you lose your laser and the powerup bar has not highlighted it.


  • As mentioned above, you can't continue; losing all your lives will mean Game Over.
  • If you set the "!" powerup to "option", do not expect a cheap way to get many options at once. Using this will create instant options, but at the cost of your remaining lives, which in this game are a precious commodity.
  • in "Edit Mode", once you have selected a weapon type, you won't be able to undo the selection; choose wisely.

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Categories: Arcade Games