The third and final game in the James Pond trilogy was written by Chris Sorrell and published by Millennium Interactive in 1993.
James Pond 3: Operation Starfish was originally developed for the Megadrive/Genesis and was later converted to AGA-based Amigas (the A1200, A4000 and CD32), but was not available on Amigas below that specification.
James Pond 3 once again features the cute, orange mudskipper, but this time the gameplay is more like a Sonic the Hedgehog game than anything else. The game is set on The Moon and James runs along the ground in each level, trying to collect as many items as possible and to avoid falling into the many traps put in his way. James has a health bar in the form of a number of fish; when all the fish have been turned to bones he loses a life. Collecting stars will replenish his health, and even extend the number of fish in the health bar, if it’s already full. He can stomp certain enemies by jumping above them and pushing down. Larger enemies can be killed by throwing rocks (or fruit) at them. The aim of each stage is to find and break a communication beacon, although some beacons will not become active until a certain number of teacups have been collected by the player. If you die during a level you have to go back to the start, unless you’ve found and activated a restart pole.
One interesting mechanic that is introduced in this game is James‘s ability to walk up walls, and on the ceiling, due to him wearing magnetic running shoes. He will only fall off if he jumps, which can lead to some situations where he must run while upside-down. In fact, some levels have entire sections that must be completed while James is running upside-down. Holding down the space bar will give James a boost – enough to help increase his momentum to get up severe inclines.
A number of useful items can be found along the way, including dynamite (which explodes after the fuse has run down, destroying any destructible blocks or enemies caught in the blast – and will also hurt James if he’s still holding it when it goes off), a fruit gun (which can be used as a weapon to fire food at enemies – different food has different effects), a fruit suit (protecting the player from damage for a certain amount of time), x-ray specs (which show hidden blocks), spring shoes (which make James jump higher), a jet pack (allowing James to fly in the air, but it requires fuel), an umbrella (to float slowly downwards), springs (which make James jump higher), and bombs (similar to dynamite but the fuse will start only when the bomb is thrown). Plus others waiting to be discovered. There’s also a second playable character, called Finnius Frog, who can be rescued on a particular level and can be switched to and from by hitting an icon with his face on.
A map between levels allows you to choose which you want to play next, although you can only re-play levels you’ve completed once. Some levels have secret warps that can be found and will take James in an alternate direction on the map. In many respects James Pond 3 is also very much influenced by Super Mario World, with its secret routes.
While James Pond 3 is technically more impressive than the previous two games in the series, it wasn’t as successful. It’s still fun to play, though, and again features product placement of McVitie’s Penguin biscuits. Like all James Pond games it does get progressively more frustrating as you play, but is competently-programmed with nice graphics and sound.