Released in 2011 on IGS’ PGM2 hardware and obviously the third main entry in the Knights of Valour series, much like the others this game’s a side-scrolling beat ‘em up using the Romance of the Three Kingdoms setting; the big difference here is that the typical genre structure has been thrown out the window and players are free to play any unlocked level in any order, even repeating previously completed levels, until either they die and don’t continue or the omnipresent timer hits zero. This timer pauses at any time the player isn’t in direct control of their character (for example, during the end-of-stage shop screens or boss dialogue) and it refills all the way back up to 999 whenever another player joins in an existing game or if a player dies and then continues so the system isn’t as restrictive as it sounds – in fact it would be possible to play all day so long as the player made sure they died and continued roughly every sixteen minutes.
Up to four players can play together at the same time, split across two cabinets (although this only actually requires one PGM2 motherboard and game). Just as in Knights of Valour 2 characters can hold onto both items and equipment and use them at will, with the loot-centric KoV3 placing special emphasis on a wide variety of upgradeable weaponry and armour available in chests and dropped after bosses are defeated. Characters also gain experience from fighting, each level earned boosting their base strength and unlocking the ability to purchase new skills once certain milestones are reached. Some skills can be used as often as the player likes and are performed using fighting game style moves (eg: back, forward + A) while the more powerful ones consume a portion of the characters special gauge after pressing A+B, or A+B+<direction>.
All character information can be saved onto an IC card, allowing the player to keep their character and use them on any Knights of Valour 3 machine. Once a card has been registered it is “locked” to that character – one IC card = one character. Each card has 500 uses, one use being defined as from the time the player inserts the card until the time they remove it, the number of credits used in between doesn’t matter. After a card has been used up the data can be transferred over to another card.
There are ten characters to choose from, with Lu Bu and Liu Bei inaccessible unless registered to an IC card. Once into the main game it’s then time to choose the stage – by default there are three areas to choose from each with four stages, with a further two areas unlocked once certain conditions are met. Each area also has a stage to unlock, making for a total of five areas with five stages each. These unlocks are on an individual character basis rather than saved to the board. Each stage has many alternative routes and secret areas, it’s even possible to revisit previously cleared-out zones and explore the stage completely rather than head directly to the boss.
At the end of every stage (whether using an IC card or not) the player is taken to a shop where they can purchase items, skills and equipment as well as repair or enhance anything currently equipped either using money picked up in the stages or by selling any unwanted pickups.
The game also has an alternative boss rush mode using a branching path system, with each fight having unique battle conditions and restrictions. Characters built up in the main game can be used here too.
The internal DIP switch settings are pretty standard – just the usual coin/credit settings and the ability to choose one of five difficulties. For the record, there is no language select option.
I can only apologise for the quality of the images below – in this instance the screenshots are literally shots of a screen as the game is unemulated, there are no home ports (released, planned, or even cancelled) and I don’t own anything capable of capturing arcade hardware. Normally I’d wait until an emulated version became available but there’s such a small amount of information out there I thought it’d be worth making an exception.