#267 – Gradius

Konami’s landmark shoot-em-up series begins here.
“Lucasfilm lawyers on line one…”
Death to anything that flies in front of my cockpit!

PLAYERS: 1-2 alternating



GENRE: Shoot-em-up

RELEASE DATE: December 1986

Let’s be honest: when one thinks of Gradius, what you’re really thinking of are Easter Island heads that spit out blue raspberry candies at you. Don’t deny it! I love that Konami took a very mysterious stone statue and turned it into hordes of enemies in an otherwise innocuous shooter. I won’t be so bold as to say Easter Island heads are the only thing worth enjoying in the game. In fact, I quite like the simplistic upgrade-or-don’t shooter contained here. All that’s required is to be on your toes at all times. Outside of the first level which is quite reasonable, the remaining six levels will turn your ship into so much scrap metal if you let them. Honestly, even the upgrades like missiles, lasers, and a shield (located at the bottom of the screen and accessed through collecting red orbs dropped by enemies) don’t help much, unless you have all of them equipped at one time. I’m not sure the latter is possible without a code, but either way, I highly recommend it. I don’t think you can make it through the game without them, to be honest, and therein lies my one real frustration with the game. Should you die anywhere past level 2, you may as well restart the entire game. The onslaught of enemies and projectiles that will face you and the vulnerability of your ship after a sudden death can not be over-emphasized. Needless to say, the game is ridiculously hard. It’s 3 lives, no continues, buddy, so enjoy those Easter Island heads while you can. This is space, not Halo.


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10 replies on “#267 – Gradius”

Are you saying there’s a difference? What’s wrong with Halo? I like Halo!
So, there’s this huge quarry in the middle of Easter Island. That’s obviously where the stones came from but anthropologists have no idea how they got to the coast. My theory is that they grew legs and walked ala Super Mario Land.

What’s wrong with Easter Island. I like Easter Island!

Nothing’s wrong with Halo, but health re-generation – arguably one of the features that have made games easier today – came directly from Halo. Gradius sneezes on such a concept. Don’t get me wrong: Gradius is a cold mistress with its 3 lives and no continues policy and I prefer Halo’s accessibility, but if you’re looking for a challenge…

Yeah, well, gesundheit to Gradius. That being said, Reach does have a level in which you pilot a fighter in the upper atmosphere. Alas, no Easter Island heads. Plenty of other perplexing rock formations though…(on Halo)

I remember this title – one of those Konami all-action-ball-busting titles along with Contra, Lifeforce (the sequel to Gradius – amusingly I played Lifeforce first) and Rush n Attack. Good game, though I always liked Lifeforce better personally.

I have a fondness for this game because I got it for my birthday and I think it was the first game that was “mine” not like the previous games that was for me and my siblings to “share”.

That last closing door at the end before the brain was just cruel….

Health regen in games today has taken out all the difficulties in games today. Health bars arent even existant now because after you take a few hits, you hide behind a wall and bam, instant full health. Wheres the fun in that?

I’ve been having a blast with Gradius recently. Although I agree that the need to restart for upgrades is daunting, I think it’s the main reason this schmup what it is. A hard, skill-rewarding game that reminds everyone of Easter Island.

This game and Life Force are crazy good. How difficult are they? They make the Konami code a nuisance. You _want_ to suicide once you die because you can’t go on without the upgrades. Having to suicide 30 times in a row is too tedious to even bother with the code.

You either master this game and go all the way through without dying once or you reset.

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