Gradius (video game)
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Japanese promotional flyer
|Genre(s)||Horizontal scrolling shooter|
|Mode(s)||Up to two players, alternating turns|
|Arcade system||Bubble System (as Gradius)
Konami GX400 (as Nemesis)
|Display||Raster, horizontal orientation, 256 x 224|
Gradius (グラディウス Guradiusu?) is a horizontally scrolling shoot 'em up, produced by Konami, originally released as a coin-operated arcade game in 1985. It was the first game in the Gradius series of shoot 'em ups. In Gradius, the player must maneuver a spacecraft known as the Vic Viper that must defend itself from the various alien enemies. The game featured a power-up system in which a weapon selection meter called the "power meter", based upon collecting capsules to 'purchase' additional weapons.
The arcade version of Gradius was released internationally outside Japan under the title of Nemesis, although later releases kept the original title. Home versions were released for various platforms, such as the Famicom/NES, the MSX home computer, and the PC Engine, among other formats. The original arcade game and some of the home versions has also been included in various compilation releases and are available for download in services such as the Virtual Console and PlayStation Network.
The game became synonymous with the phrase, "Destroy the core!", as the standard of boss battles in the Gradius series involved combat with a giant craft, in the center of which would be situated one to several blue colored spheres. These bosses would be designed in such a way that there would be a straight passage from the exterior of the giant craft which leads directly to one of these cores. The player must fire shots into this passage while avoiding attack patterns from weapon emplacements on the body of the boss. However, small but destructible walls are situated in this passage, impeding the bullet shots from damaging the core, and must be whittled away by repeated well-placed shots. In a way, these tiny walls represent the boss' shielding gauge until its core is finally vulnerable to attack. Some bosses have the ability to regenerate these walls. When the core has sustained enough hits, it usually changes color from blue to red, indicating that it is in critical condition and its destruction is imminent. Upon the destruction of a core, a piece of the boss may be put out of commission, seeing that it is no longer powered by a core, or if all of the cores are destroyed, the entire boss is defeated and explodes satisfyingly. Note that these cores are not present on the more organic bosses of Gradius. Such bosses have weak spots in places such as a mouth, head or eye.
The name "Gradius" refers to the human-inhabited planet which the Vic Viper is from (also known as planet Nemesis), and not a mistranslation of the word "gladius" (cf. Engrish) as one might assume. Though only mentioned in the MSX titles, the anime, and Wii's Gradius ReBirth, there are planets other than planet Gradius/Nemesis. The planets are Latis, Odysseus, Kierke, Sard, Procyon, Lavinia, Antichthon, Midport, and Eioneus.
When gameplay begins, the Vic Viper is relatively slow and has only a weak gun. This level of capability is generally insufficient for engaging enemies, but the Vic Viper can gain greater capabilities by collecting and using power-up items.
While most arcade games utilize distinct power up-items that each correspond to a specific effect on the player character, Gradius has a single power-up item. The effect of this power-up item is to advance the currently selected item in a power-up menu that appears at the bottom of the screen. When the desired power-up is highlighted, the player can obtain it by pressing the power-up button, returning the menu to its initial state in which no power-up is highlighted.
Ports of Gradius were also done for the Amstrad CPC, Commodore 64, Microsoft Windows, MSX, NEC PC-8801, Famicom/NES, PC Engine, Virtual Console, Sharp X1, Sharp X68000, Mobile phones, Sega Saturn, PlayStation and Sinclair ZX Spectrum. It was also released on Windows Store on December 20, 2013 in Japan. The NES version of Gradius introduced a cheat code that would later became known as the Konami Code, as it would be used in numerous future Konami games. In this game, inputting the code while pausing the game would grant the player's ship to its maximum level.
Gradius was also converted for the Nintendo Vs. Series arcade platform. It is identical to the NES version, but includes no cheat codes and allows the player to continue indefinitely.
A version for the Game Boy was also released in 1990 under the European name Nemesis. It is the first portable game in the Gradius series and contains five levels which play similarly to previous Gradius games. Players select the stage and the number of available extra lives at the start. The game was later included in the compilation Konami GB Collection Vol. 1, where it is titled Gradius.
GameSpot stated that Gradius was one of the toughest side-scrolling shooter games available on the NES, second only to Contra. IGN has given the game a rating 7 out of 10 for its re-release on the Wii Virtual Console and has hailed it as one of the greatest classic side-scrolling shooter games.
- Alfa Records released a limited-edition soundtrack album for this game (Konami Game Music Vol.1 – 28XA-85) on 27 June 1986.
- Apollon Music released a limited-edition soundtrack album for this game (Original Sound of Gradius – KHY1016) on 5 May 1987.
- In addition, disc 1 of Konami Music Masterpiece Collection, which was released on October 1, 2004, is mostly devoted to Gradius.
- Scramble – predecessor, also by Konami
- Parodius (series) – a series of games also made by Konami that parody the Gradius series and also draws on other Konami games
- Thunder Cross (video game)
- Gradius in Japanese Windows Store
- Gradius Release Information for Arcade Games
- Nemesis at the Killer List of Videogames
- Weiss, Brett Allan. "Gradius - Review". allgame. Retrieved July 22, 2013.
- "The Video Game Critic's NES Reviews". videogamecritic.net. Retrieved July 22, 2013.
- Monadius - a scientist's toy box
- Nemesis Release Information for Game Boy
- Gradius (video game) guide at StrategyWiki
- GameStone - Gradius Home World
- Gradius Base, an extensive resource on all Gradius games
- Gradius at the Killer List of Videogames