Thunder Force III

From Sega Retro


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ThunderForceIII MD US TitleScreen.png
ThunderForceIII MDTitleScreen.png
Thunder Force III
System(s): Sega Mega Drive
Publisher: Tecnosoft
Distributor: HOT-B (US)
Sound driver: T.S v1.21 (Technosoft)
Genre: Shooting[1][2][3]

Number of players: 1
Release Date RRP Code
Sega Mega Drive
¥6,800 (7,004)6,800e[4] T-18033
Sega Mega Drive
$56.9556.95[6] 18036
Sega Mega Drive
Sega Mega Drive
Sega Mega Drive
Sega Mega Drive
Sega Mega Drive

Thunder Force III (サンダーフォースIII) is a 1990 shoot-'em-up developed by Tecnosoft for the Sega Mega Drive. It is the third game in the Thunder Force series and the first to debut on a Sega console. It was brought to the arcades as Thunder Force AC.


Immediately after the events of Thunder Force II, the Galaxy Federation discovers five cloaking devices on five planets circling the ORN Empire's main base, and that any attempt to destroy these cloaking devices will result in ORN's Cerberus destroyer — capable of detecting and destroying large fleets — to take action. With this knowledge, the Galaxy Federation builds a new ship that is both powerful enough to destroy the five cloaking devices yet small enough to avoid detection by Cerberus.


Unlike its predecessors, III only features side-scrolling stages. B fires; there is rapidfire. A changes speed. C changes weapons. Powerups are collected in the usual way. Options can be changed by holding A, B or C when pressing Select on the title screen - this opens "configuration mode".


You can start at any of the first five levels, skipping over ones before it.

Notavailable.svg Planet Hydra
A horizontal wilderness. Your only threats are ORN's enemies, with some enemies coming from behind, some shooting homing missiles, and some shooting lasers up at you when you cross.

Boss: Gargoyle: A chicken-like beast that shoots fireballs at you. Hi its stomach repeatedly to destroy it.

Notavailable.svg Planet Gorgon
A lava planet with rapidly rising columns of lava being the greatest natural threat. ORN has filled this planet with all sorts of laser enemies to stop you, and the balls of rock take quite a number of hits.

Boss: Twin Vulcan: Two machines that circle the screen and shoot bullets at you at intervals. Destroy them both (you won't have to worry about one coming back if you take too long; it won't).

Notavailable.svg Planet Seiren
An underwater level full of ORN enemies.

Boss: King Fish

Notavailable.svg Planet Haides
A mountainous level with terrain that rises, falls, and moves around in other ways. Think fast!

Boss: G Lobster

Notavailable.svg Planet Ellis
What appears to be an ice mountain planet full of ORN enemies.

Boss: Mobile Fort

Notavailable.svg Cerberus
Destroy the destroyer one piece at a time. Penetrate through to the inside and defeat the core to destroy the ship (regardless of how much of the outside you destroyed).
Notavailable.svg ORN Base
Enemies stand guard left and right while a number of traps block your way. Beware the doors that close in on you; you lose a life if you're on the wrong side...

Boss: ("No Data")

Notavailable.svg ORN Core
The base of operations of ORN. This is a short level where you fight a miniboss and then face the final boss.

Boss: CHA OS [sic]: It (what it was is revealed in the ending) attacks rapidly with several different types of bullets, some of which (like its wave shots) you can destroy.


Thunder Force III was released in the US, Japan, South Korea and Brazil, but it is not thought to have been released in the pan-Euro area. However, the US release is known to have been distributed in limited numbers across France and Germany, with the instruction manual exchanged for localised versions[8]. Official releases in other PAL regions have not been confirmed.

Production credits

  • Program: Izumi Fukuda, Takashi Iwanaga, Haruhiko Ohtsuka
  • Graphics & Design: Osamu Tsujikawa, Yoichi Muto
  • Stage Design: Takashi Iwanaga
  • Music Compose: Toshiharu Yamanishi, Tomomi Ohtani
  • Sound Effects: Naosuke Arai
  • Voice: kaoru
  • Manual: Fumio Sugano
  • Wording: Kazue Matsuoka
  • Produce: Techno Soft

Digital manuals

Magazine articles

Main article: Thunder Force III/Magazine articles.

Promotional material

Main article: Thunder Force III/Promotional material.

Physical scans

Sega Retro Average 
Publication Score Source
91 [9]
85 [10]
83 [11]
91 №3, p85
89 [12]
90 [13]
95 [14]
78 №103, [1]
91 [15]
92 [16]
85 [17]
95 [18]
94 [19]
93 №8, p105
84 [20]
85 №5, p95
89 [21]
86 [22]
97 [23]
80 [24]
82 [25]
89 [26]
88 [27]
89 №18, p68
88 [7]
85 №81, p58/59
94 [28]
Sega Mega Drive
Based on
27 reviews
Mega Drive, JP
ThunderForce3 MD JP Box.jpg
ThunderForceIII MD JP Cart Top.jpg
ThunderForceIII MD JP Cart Back.jpgThunderForce3 MD JP Cart.jpg
TFIII MD JP pcb.jpg
Mega Drive, US
ThunderForce3 MD US Box.jpg
Thunderforce3 md us cart.jpg
Thunder Force III MD US Manual.pdf
TFIII MD US pcb.jpg
Mega Drive, FR

Thunder Force III MD FR Manual.pdf
Mega Drive, DE

Mega Drive, ES

Mega Drive, BR
Thunderforceiii md br cover.jpg
MDCartThunderForceIII c.jpg
MDCartThunderForceIII f.jpg
Thunderforceiii md br manual.pdf
Mega Drive, KR
ThunderForceIII MD KR cover.jpg
ThunderForceIII MD KR cart.jpg

Technical information

ROM dump status

System Hash Size Build Date Source Comments
Sega Mega Drive
CRC32 1b3f399a
MD5 64766dae889d039eb391bc5bf2973f5d
SHA-1 9eadee76eb0509d5a0f16372fc9eac7a883e5f2d
512kB 1990-03 Cartridge (US/JP)
Sega Mega Drive
CRC32 2b5c2063
MD5 5d694df1dbe9648ea6533871a6a07c3e
SHA-1 5debc42ff0355e6ade7cf30f778b6a5c682fea7f
512kB 1990-08-01 CD-R disc Page


  1. File:ThunderForce3 MD JP Box.jpg
  2. File:ThunderForceIII MD KR cover.jpg
  3. 3.0 3.1 (Wayback Machine: 2020-07-02 23:21)
  4. Beep! MegaDrive, "May 1990" (JP; 1990-04-07), page 115
  5. Electronic Gaming Monthly, "September 1990" (US; 1990-xx-xx), page 64
  6. GamePro, "November 1990" (US; 1990-xx-xx), page 107
  7. 7.0 7.1 Supergame, "Julho 1992" (BR; 1992-07-xx), page 37
  8. (Wayback Machine: 2013-04-14 08:23)
  9. ACE, "August 1990" (UK; 1990-07-xx), page 60
  10. Beep! MegaDrive, "June 1990" (JP; 1990-05-08), page 107 (109)
  11. Sega Saturn Magazine, "September 1995" (JP; 1995-08-08), page 83 (85)
  12. Complete Guide to Consoles, "Volume IV" (UK; 1990-11-xx), page 37
  13. Consoles +, "Tilt Hors-Serie" (FR; 1991-07-xx), page 36/37 (36)
  14. Computer & Video Games, "August 1990" (UK; 1990-07-16), page 84/85 (84)
  15. Game Power, "Dicembre 1991" (IT; 1991-xx-xx), page 54/55 (56)
  16. GamePro, "November 1990" (US; 1990-xx-xx), page 108/109 (106)
  17. The Games Machine, "August 1990" (UK; 1990-07-19), page 55
  18. Hobby Consolas, "Noviembre 1991" (ES; 1991-xx-xx), page 24/25 (24)
  19. Joypad, "Mars 1992" (FR; 1992-0x-xx), page 138/139 (138)
  20. Sega Mega Drive Advanced Gaming, "September 1992" (UK; 1992-xx-xx), page 80
  21. MegaTech, "Xmas 1991" (UK; 1991-12-06), page 81
  22. Mean Machines, "October 1991" (UK; 1991-09-27), page 88-90 (88)
  23. Player One, "Octobre 1991" (FR; 1991-xx-xx), page 54/55 (54)
  24. Sega Power, "October 1991" (UK; 1991-09-05), page 54/55 (54)
  25. Sega Power, "November 1991" (UK; 1991-10-04), page 22
  26. Sega Pro, "April 1992" (UK; 1992-03-19), page 30
  27. Sega Pro, "July 1992" (UK; 1992-06-18), page 28/29 (28)
  28. Zero, "September 1990" (UK; 1990-08-09), page 72

Thunder Force III
ThunderForceIII MD US TitleScreen.png

Main page | Comparisons | Maps | Hidden content | Magazine articles | Reception | Region coding

Prereleases: Prototype 1990-08-01

Thunder Force games for Sega systems / developed by Sega
Sega Mega Drive
Thunder Force II (1989) | Thunder Force III (1990) | Thunder Force IV / Lightening Force: Quest for the Darkstar (1992)
Thunder Force AC (1990)
Sega Saturn
Thunder Force: Gold Pack 1 (1996) | Thunder Force: Gold Pack 2 (1996) | Thunder Force V (1997)
Sony PlayStation 2
Thunder Force VI (2008)
Nintendo Switch
Sega Ages Thunder Force IV (2018) | Sega Ages Thunder Force AC (2020)
Thunder Force related media
Best of Thunder Force (1997) | Thunder Force VI Soundtrack Demo (2008) | Technosoft Music Collection: Thunder Force III & AC (2020)