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Game Review: eXceed 3rd - Jade Penetrate Black Package

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‘eXceed 3rd - Jade Penetrate Black Package’ is quite a weird title. The first, Japan-only version of the game was simply ‘eXceed 3rd - Jade Penetrate.’ It was later improved and re-released with ‘Black Package’ added to the end to separate it from the original version. I’ll just refer to ‘Jade Penetrate Black Package’ as ‘eXceed 3rd’ for the rest of the article.

Depending on how you look at it, eXceed 3rd is the third, fourth (counting the original version of eXceed 2nd), or fifth (counting the original eXceed 3rd) game in the eXceed series. Like the other games, it’s a fan-made Japanese shoot-em-up in the “bullet hell”/danmaku/modern style where there are tons of bullets on-screen and only a tiny part of your ship/character can get hit.

This installment goes back to the franchise roots: it doesn’t use a polarity switch mechanic like eXceed 2nd did. 3rd is a more straight-forward modern shoot-em-up where you dodge every bullet. But it doesn’t make it a worse game or anything like that. In fact, eXceed 3rd is easily my favorite of the series.

What’s Better?

Any of the weird problems that eXceed - Gun Bullet Children or 2nd had are either gone or not too big of a problem in 3rd. The rank system from 2nd is completely gone and your selected difficulty remains consistent throughout. Your character screams when hit, fixing another problem that 2nd had. 3rd still has the ‘enemy push-back’ mechanic from Vampire REX, but it’s a very minor issue because no boss is built around the mechanic in the third game.

There were quite a few problems with Gun Bullet Children that 3rd resolves. The biggest non-technical problem with GBC was the very bland scoring system. 3rd has a fairly complex scoring system that shares elements with many different games. 3rd’s scoring is dependent on collecting point orbs, grazing enemy bullets, destroying enemies quickly, and being close to enemies. Yeah, it’s a lot to take in! You can have fun playing the game without really caring about score, but this scoring system certainly improves the re-playability of the game.

What else is there?

The soundtrack is exceptional, and there’s lots of stuff for longhairs to headbang to.

When played on the easiest settings (Easy and auto-bomb) is very easy. After a few hours of playing, I tried these settings and beat it on my first try with 2 credits. You can disable auto-bomb and the other difficulty settings are much harder.

I noticed no technical problems when playing.

Overall

eXceed 3rd - Jade Penetrate Black Package is my favorite game from the eXceed Collection. Solid gameplay and an excellent soundtrack are always a winning combination. Highly recommended for fans of modern-style (bullet hell) shoot-em-ups.

Controller Notes

Every game in the eXceed series supports controllers. However, be sure to use a controller where the D-Pad/stick is not detected as a hat switch. This applies to Xbox 360 controllers (D-Pad is a hat switch on PC) and some arcade sticks.

I primarily used two controllers to play games in this series: a Dual Shock 2 (using a USB adapter) and a PS3 WWE All Stars Brawl Pad. Both worked just fine.


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