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 Post subject: GD: GR3 Project
PostPosted: Sun Apr 23, 2017 9:30 pm 

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GR3 is a freeware Gradius fangame in the style of the MSX Gradius and Nemesis games. It was released in the early 2000s by GR3 Project, better known today as NIGORO, the creators of La-Mulana.


There are three main versions of GR3:

GR3 - The original version of the game.

GR3 Ex - A tweaked/patched revision of GR3.
  • Polishes up some graphics such as the stage 5 boss and fixes a misspelling in a certain cutscene ("ALEAT" -> "ALERT")
  • Various changes to the special area in stage 4: The shop comes after the special area, rather than after the "regular" part of the stage, the music during the special area is changed, and you now have to fly into the core of the secret boss after defeating it to trigger the stage 7 boss rush.

GR3 Re-Death - A substantial remake of the game. Every stage is remade and is generally harder.
  • Retains graphical tweaks/fixes from GR3 Ex
  • All stage layouts are drastically changed, except the boss rush (which has only minor tweaks)
  • Dying no longer loses you unspent E-capsules from previous stages (though you still lose any E-capsules gained during the stage)
  • Incorporates some previously unused music tracks
  • A new ending (I think after the second loop, though I haven't confirmed)

You can easily tell which one of these you're playing by checking the logo on the title screen, which should say "Ex" or "Re-Death" if it's one of those versions.

There are actually more distributions of the game than this, each compatible with different versions of the Java Runtime Environment, but as far as gameplay is concerned they're all one of these three versions. See "Downloading and Running" below for more details.

Downloading and Running

Unfortunately, this warrants some explanation.

The original GR3 Project homepage is long gone and there's no mention of GR3 on the current NIGORO website, so there is no "official" download site for the game. There are download links for different versions of the game floating around here and there, but your best bet is to download White Knell's site rip of the GR3 Project website, which includes every released version of the game, as well as a bunch of other resources for both GR3 and La-Mulana. White Knell's blog, where the site rip was hosted, is also no longer in its original location, but fortunately it has been preserved by

----->DOWNLOAD HERE<-----

tl;dr: For regular GR3, you want in the "gr3" folder. For GR3 Re-Death, you want in the "sayonara" folder. For GR3 Ex, you're out of luck unless you install version 1.4.2 of the Java Runtime Environment (which is ancient, so don't uninstall your current version of Java), but it's gr3ex.lzh in the "gr3" folder.

In more detail:

Extract the archive and you'll see a directory "g3project", within which is contained the old GR3 Project website as it was shortly before it went offline. The files you want are:
  • gr3/ - The original GR3. Doesn't work with modern Java Runtime Environments (JRE). I got it to run in old versions of the JRE, but with major performance issues.
  • gr3/gr3ex.lzh - GR3 Ex. Doesn't work with modern JREs, but works great with JRE 1.4.2.
  • gr3/ - GR3 updated to be compatible with JRE 1.5 and above.* Includes GR3 Ex's graphics tweaks/fixes, but is otherwise identical to the original GR3 ( as far as I can tell.
  • sayonara/ - GR3 Re-Death. Compatible with JRE 1.5 and above.*
  • gr3/ - GR3 Re-Death source code! Great for studying how everything works.
  • gr3/ - GR3 Ex source code! This does not seem to be identical to the GR3 Ex in gr3ex.lzh, but rather is based on the same codebase as GR3 Re-Death, so it is compatible with JRE 1.5+ if you compile it. It seems to expect different resource files than GR3 Ex, probably some combination of GR3 Re-Death and GR3 Ex's resources but I'm not sure yet exactly what should come from each version.

*,, and any version built from source is compatible with the latest JRE. However, in Java 7 (JRE 1.7) the Beatnik Audio Engine was swapped out for Gervill, which causes the MIDI-based soundtrack to sound different (and not for the better, in my opinion). While the game is still perfectly playable, to hear the soundtrack as it's supposed to sound you have to run the game in an older version of the JRE, either 1.5 or 1.6.

Old versions of the Java Runtime Environment can be downloaded from Oracle's website, though it requires you to create an account before it lets you download.

The site dump also includes a JukeBox (works with JRE 1.4.2; type "SPACE MANBOW" and press Enter to unlock all tracks), two applet versions of the game (the game was originally a Java applet before being distributed as a standalone JAR), the manual ("setumei"), and more.


Movement - Cursor keys
Shoot (both shot and missiles) - Space
Powerup - M
Pause - F1
Continue - F5
Fullscreen - F8 or F10 (depending on the version you're playing and possibly what version of the Java Runtime Environment you're using)
Quit - F12

Controls can be rebound in the options menu upon launching the game, but since the game does not save settings (or scores, for that matter) you have to do this every time you launch the game. The fullscreen and quit buttons cannot be rebound. On my computer pressing the fullscreen button just causes the game to crash so I just play it in its tiny window. I haven't tested if the game recognizes gamepads or arcade sticks but I doubt it does, so to use one of those you'll need Joy2Key or something similar.



If you've played any Gradius or Gradius-like game before, you should already be familiar with the basic gameplay. In particular, if you've played the MSX games, you probably already know everything you need to know. Shoot enemies and collect powerup capsules, press the powerup button when the powerup you want is highlighted on the powerup bar, get to the boss and shoot the core, etc. Extends are at every 100,000 points. There are 7 or 8 stages depending on whether you fulfill some conditions (see "Secrets" below).


Each stage has a number of special capsules with an "E" inside them, some dropped by certain enemies, some revealed by shooting certain locations. These can be used at the end of each stage to purchase additional weapons. Note that purchasing a weapon doesn't give it to you right away, it simply puts it in the powerup bar and you still have to select the powerup with your regular powerup capsules. If you die during a stage, you lose all the E-capsules you have collected. So don't die. 8)

The shop screen appears as follows:


The choices are grouped into columns by which slot they occupy on the powerup bar. You can choose up to two weapons each from the Missile, Double, and Laser columns; the second upgrade will give you a combination of the two weapons. The other columns only allow one choice each; after choosing one the other entries in the column become unavailable.

MISSILE (5E for first upgrade, 10E for second)
2-Way System - Fire missile upwards if you're in the upper half of the screen, downwards if you're in the lower half
Photon System - Travels along the ground going through weak enemies, similar to the photon missiles in other Gradius games.
Napalm System - Explodes in a burst similar to spread bombs in Gradius III, albeit with a smaller AoE. No longer travels along the ground unless combined with Hawk System or Photon System.
Hawk System - Missile moves faster and can climb walls and slopes.

Down Laser - Laser that moves downwards. Can be gotten twice (through the powerup bar, not the shop) to make it expand as it travels. Not compatible with Missile or Up Laser.

DOUBLE (7E for first upgrade, 10E for second)
Tail Attachment - The classic tailgun.
Fire Blaster - Very powerful beam of fire with a limited range.
Reflex Ring - Ring of energy that returns to you like a boomerang.

Up Laser - Laser that moves upwards. Can be gotten twice (through the powerup bar, not the shop) to make it expand as it travels. Not compatible with Down Laser.

LASER (8E for first upgrade, 12E for second)
Ripple System - The well-known ripple laser. Very slow projectiles, I do not recommend.
Extend System - Twin beam laser.
Screw System - Powerful laser that looks like... well, a screw.

Rolling Guard Option - Options spin around Vic Viper. Can return to normal option movement by selecting Option from the powerup bar again.
Fixed Guard Option - Options remain in fixed positions above and below Vic Viper. Can return to normal option movement by selecting Option from the powerup bar again.
Armerd (sic) Guard Option - Options block a certain number of bullets.

Force Field System - Replaces the normal shield (10 durability) with force field (5 durability) to guard all sides.
Shot Shield System - Select Shield from the powerup bar again to shoot your shield as a projectile, dealing damage depending on how much durability it still had.
Rotary Field System - Similar to force field except it trades durability (it can only take 1 hit) for the ability to tunnel through diggable terrain. Very useful in areas with a lot of diggable terrain, but otherwise an inferior force field.


Stage 4 special area, stage 7 boss rush, good end

Somewhere near the end of stage 4 you'll see a blue portal(?) floating in the level. It looks like this:


Touching this portal will activate a cutscene. After defeating the stage 4 boss, you will be given an additional "special" area of stage 4 to fight through, with a special boss at the end. After defeating this boss, it will sit around for a couple seconds before exploding; fly into the core during this time to trigger another cutscene (in the original GR3, you don't need to fly into the core). If you do this, after stage 6 you will get a boss rush stage. Otherwise, you skip the boss rush and go directly to the last stage, stage 8. Completing the game with this secret area and boss rush is necessary to get the "good" ending, otherwise you'll get a "bad" ending. I believe it's also necessary to get the "true" ending at the end of the second loop.

Bonus stages

In Stages 2, 3, and 5, touching a certain point will warp you to a bonus stage. This point is not indicated in any way, so you just have to know where it is or accidentally discover it. It's generally close to the end of the stage, though.

The bonus stages consist of a lot of diggable terrain (similar to the original Gradius's stage 2). Hidden beneath this terrain are two types of capsules that are only found in the bonus stages. Green capsules give extra lives, one for every capsule. White capsules give bonus points. Collecting multiple white capsules in quick succession increases their value, 100 -> 200 -> 500 -> 1000 -> 2000 -> 5000 -> 10000, but the value resets if you don't collect any for even a short period. These capsules make bonus stages extremely valuable for stocking up tons of lives - I usually have 8 or so extra lives by the end of stage 2!

After the bonus stage, you return to the normal stage at the boss. If you die during the bonus stage or during the boss, you respawn at the last checkpoint and the bonus stage is no longer accessible (it'd be really easy to milk it indefinitely otherwise).

For an example of what one of these looks like, here's a video showing the bonus stage in stage 3.


Yes, there is dynamic difficulty. I haven't looked much into it since it's not something you need to actively manage, but it's probably determined by your powerup level. I've noticed on stage 3, for instance, that enemy attacks move more slowly when I don't have many upgrades (e.g. after a death).


GR3, like most Gradius games, has multiple loops. I believe it loops indefinitely, but I'm not sure. You get a special "true" ending after completing the second loop (and loops thereafter).

The second loop has the following changes:
  • Suicide bullets. These aren't particularly intense compared to most Gradius games, but they're there.
  • Enemies are generally more aggressive, attacking more frequently and in some cases moving more quickly too.
  • Bosses are more durable.
  • Additional enemies - The loop adds waves of green enemies that come from behind and some blue enemies that fly around keeping you busy.
  • Certain enemies are made indestructible or only destructible with certain weapons. There are some of these in the first loop too, but the second loop adds more. For example, the bugs preceding the stage 2 boss can only be destroyed with Fire Blaster, and the crystals before the stage 4 boss can only be destroyed with the Meteor (screw) laser.

I'm pretty sure it doesn't get any harder after the second loop.

To start on the second loop: Hold the continue button while starting a new game from the main menu. Before starting, the game will bring you to the shop screen with 24 E-capsules to spend.


To activate cheats, pause the game, type in the cheat code, and press Enter.

Powerup codes - These codes give you a bunch of powerups, namely 4 speed ups, fully upgraded missiles, fully upgraded laser, and two options. Does not give you any shop upgrades you don't have, nor up/down laser even if you have it. Each code can only be used once per game, and most can only be used on a particular stage.
SUPER - Common
TWINBEE - Stage 1
GALIOUS - Stage 2
GRADIUS2 - Stage 3
HINOTORI - Stage 5
F1SPIRIT - Stage 7
QBERT - Stage 8

Other codes
NARAMURA - Commit suicide.
DUPLEX - Resets E-capsule count to 0.
SAMIERU - Adds additional music to the sound test menu.
WAIT - Toggles between 60fps and 90fps, in case you thought the game was too easy. Also unlocks an option in the options menu to adjust the number of milliseconds between each frame.
SIN10BAI - Gives you the true ending after clearing the first loop.
PANZER - In GR3, gives you 4 options (normal maximum is 2), usable only once per game. In GR3 Ex, turns invincibility on/off. In GR3 Re-Death, has no effect.
ILOVESCC - Unlocks stage select (appears in main menu).

Links & Resources

Japanese wiki on GR3 - The most comprehensive resource on GR3 available. Focuses on GR3 Ex, but much of the info is applicable to other versions as well. Describes pretty much every aspect of GR3 Ex, including walkthroughs of every stage. I got most of my info from this site.
Gradius Wiki article on GR3 - There are a couple inaccuracies (the description for the rotary field system is wrong, and the stage 4 special area triggers stage 7 rather than stage 8 as the page says) but overall it's the best English-language resource I could find.
GR3 fansite - Includes a walkthrough of GR3 (the original version) and a page describing the differences between GR3 and GR3 Ex.
GR3 Re-Death fansite - Walkthrough of GR3 Re-Death (both loops!).
msx4ever's YouTube channel - A series of videos of GR3 Ex.
GR3 Re-Death video - Compilation of a bunch of videos of GR3 Re-Death. The Nicovideo sources linked in the video description are in higher quality.


  • 2019 March 20 - Updated "GR3 fansite" and "GR3 Re-Death fansite" links to point to mirrors, since Geocities Japan is shutting down.
NTSC-J: You know STGs are in trouble when you have threads on how to introduce them to a wider audience and get more people playing followed by threads on how to get its hardcore fan base to play them, too.
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Last edited by Shepardus on Wed Mar 20, 2019 11:18 am, edited 4 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: GD: GR3 Project
PostPosted: Mon Apr 24, 2017 11:43 pm 

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this is the greatest thread in the history of the forum, you should be canonized
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