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eXceed 3rd - Jade Penetrate Black Package - Review

eXceed 3rd - Jade Penetrate Black Package is the third title of the eXceed series as a bullet hell shooter with fan service by Tennen-sozai and Nyu Media. With a new cast of characters that is entirely different from the earlier titles of the eXceed series, it features a girl from the Dragon Clan Rayne Lindwurm. Rayne plans to compete in a tournament against other participants in her academy to become the Cardinal Lord of her world Pandemonium across 5 levels and one hidden level.

Similar to the previous two titles of the eXceed series, the game is a doujin bullet hell shooter with great artwork in the game cover, soundtrack cover, character sprites, Steam badges, emoticons, and profile backgrounds which make it attractive to showcase on profile. The game has normal gamepad controller sensitivity, fast catchy pop background music to keep players excited in the game as an arcade shooter and great voice acting. Again, as a game that is released back in 2009, the take screenshot feature in the Steam version doesn't work where it only gives a black picture without any picture of the character artwork sprites or conversation text window which is quite a shame since the character artwork sprites and visual novel aspects in this game are one of the main highlights of this game. The game also only has 3 continues where if the player doesn't play well, the player will have to replay the game all over again from level 1 to see the ending. Although it isn't too difficult at easy difficulty, I still had to play the game from start to finish several times to become familiar with it.

Normal ending on YouTube by zero007ist

According to a published Steam community guide, there is a secret unlockable level and boss that will appear only when certain conditions are met which is not an easy feat as it requires completing the game without using any continues, then fighting three different bosses at normal difficulty without using bombs or losing a life. I didn't manage to reach this part because my fingers hurt from playing bullet hell shooters and I have to admit I am more into the plot, soundtrack, and artwork (visual novel elements) rather than difficult arcade bullet hell gameplay.

Full gameplay video with secret boss and true ending on YouTube by VioletHatPurple

Having played the earlier titles of the eXceed series, eXceed 3rd - Jade Penetrate Black Package is the hardest title of the series as a bullet hell shooter, while also having the most stirring and exciting soundtracks. On the Steam store page description, it lists high production values with outstanding graphics, music and gameplay as one of its main selling points. My favourite soundtracks in this game is Hymnus at title screen, FIY UP at level 2, Maid To Order at level 4 and Next Stage at normal end credits. In addition, besides the attractive anime artwork and a bit of fan service on one of the female characters, I notice that the choreography for some of the bigger mech enemies are a nice improvement in this game where they will fly in, unfold into a battle mode form, burst into flames and explode when destroyed.

BGM Hymnus, FIY UP and Maid to Order on YouTube by 7TC7

Although I didn't manage to reach the secret level, and the price of this game and its soundtrack DLC is the highest compared to the earlier titles of the eXceed series, I can recommend this game with the soundtrack DLC when it is at an attractive discounted price or bundle offer because of its attractive artwork, animation, voice acting, and background music.

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