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This article is about the series. For the first game in the series, see Gradius (video game). For the Game Boy game also known as Gradius, see Nemesis (1990 video game).
Genres Scrolling shooter
Developers Konami
Publishers Konami
First release Gradius
May 29, 1985
Latest release Gradius the Slot
July 2011
Spin-offs Salamander

The Gradius (グラディウス Guradiusu?, pronounced: Grah-dee-us) games, first introduced in 1985, make up a series of scrolling shooter video games published by Konami for a variety of portable, console and arcade platforms. In many games in the series, the player controls a ship known as the Vic Viper. In other games of the series, ships the player controls include the Lord British Space Destroyer, Metalion, Sabel Tiger, Thrasher, Vixen, Alpinia, Super Cobra, Jade Knight, and the Falchion β.


Scramble (1981)
An early horizontal-scrolling shooter from which gameplay elements of the Gradius series were inspired. Although there is no canonical relationship between Scramble and the Gradius series, Scramble is implied to be a spiritual predecessor to the series, evident by its appearance in flashbacks during Gradius introduction sequences. (Gradius Advance) Scramble has been ported to other platforms; including MSX and Commodore 64. In 2002, Scramble appeared on GBA as one of the titles featured in Konami Collector's Series: Arcade Advanced.
Gradius (1985)
The first true Gradius game introduced the concept of the 'weapon bar'. During the game, many enemy craft leave behind icons or 'pick ups' when destroyed. Collecting one of these will shift the section cursor along the weapon bar at the bottom of the screen. The player can then select the weapon highlighted if they want it. The cursor then resets. In general, the more useful 'power ups' are towards the right hand side of the bar, so the player may decide to stock up on pickups till the better item is available. This innovation allowed for deeper tactics on the part of the player and for greater freedom of weapon choice rather than relying on the pre-determined power ups common in other games in the genre. Originally released as an arcade game, its popularity resulted in ports to the: ZX Spectrum, Commodore 64, NES/Famicom, MSX, Master System, Sharp X68000 and PC Engine. More recently, ports to the Sega Saturn, PlayStation, and certain mobile phones were created. (Saturn, PlayStation and computer versions are all packaged with Gradius II as Gradius Deluxe Pack). In addition, the NES version was re-released for Virtual Console and the PC Engine version on the PlayStation Network. In territories outside Japan, the arcade version of Gradius was released under the title of Nemesis.[1][2]
Salamander/Life Force (1986)
Set in the same universe as Gradius. The game is noteworthy for a number of reasons. Most prominently, the game switches between horizontal and vertical stages, one of the first games of its kind and was also one of the first shoot'em ups to include cooperative gameplay.
The first player ship is Gradius's own Vic Viper ship, while the second ship is the Lord British space destroyer (sometimes called the "RoadBritish").
Unlike Gradius, Salamander uses a more conventional weapons system, with enemies leaving a wide variety of distinct power-ups. The NES version of Salamander, called Life Force in North America (and marketed in that region as the "sequel" to the first Gradius), and the MSX version used the power meter from the Gradius series. There also exists an arcade game named Life Force that is identical to Salamander released in Japanese arcades the same year, except that a Gradius-style power meter is used instead of conventional power-up items, and the stages were recolored slightly and given some voiceovers to make the mission about traveling inside someone's body, rather than through space; stages took on names such as "Kidney Zone" and "Stomach." An American release was also made, but it retained the original power-up system of Salamander, though it was renamed, rather confusingly, as Life Force.
Nemesis 2 (1987)
The MSX Gradius 2 is unrelated to the second arcade Gradius game (which used the Roman numeral "II"). Instead of controlling Vic Viper, the available ship is called "Metalion" (code name N322). Like the MSX version of Salamander, this game also has a storyline, which is told by cut-scenes. The gameplay is mostly unchanged from the rest of the series, though there are some power-ups that temporarily give the ship some enhancements. In addition, when the bosses are defeated, the Metalion can fly inside them before they explode, and a mini-level will start that awards weapon upgrades when finished without dying, depending on the speed at which the boss was defeated. In the same year Zemina released a version for Korean Master System. This version was ported to the Sharp X68000 computer under the name Nemesis '90 Kai, with a number of graphical and aural enhancements. The game also appeared in the Japan exclusive PSP Salamander Portable collection.
Gradius II (1988)
Bearing no relation to the MSX game titled Gradius 2, Gradius II is the sequel to Gradius in terms of chronology. The game was never released in North America in any form, until recently with its inclusion in the PlayStation Portable title Gradius Collection. It was released as Vulcan Venture in territories outside Japan.[3]
Nemesis 3: The Eve of Destruction (1988)
The fourth game of the series to be released for the MSX platform. "Gofer no Yabō" (GOFERの野望) is the subtitle of Gradius II (the arcade game).
Gradius III (1989)
This title introduced the Weapon Edit method of selecting weapons, which allowed players to create their own weapon array by choosing power-ups from a limited pool of available weapon types (some weapons in the preset weapon types are not selectable in Weapon Edit mode, although it includes weapons not in any presets). The SNES/SFC version is not a very accurate port; levels, enemies, and weapons were altered. For example, two entire stages were cut out in the Super NES version: a 3D stage which involved avoiding hitting cave walls from a unique first-person perspective behind the Vic Viper, and a crystal stage in which the Vic Viper was challenged by crystal blocks blocking off areas like a maze. Also, the order of stages was changed. The final stage in the SNES version was based on an early stage in the arcade version. The original arcade version's ending had the main boss in a mechanical setting, then going through a speed-up zone to escape the enemy base, where the SNES version had the player simply avoiding the final enemy's simple and slow-moving attack patterns with no challenge afterward. However, the SNES version introduced the Rotate and Formation Option types, both of which were reused in Gradius V. The difficulty and major boss tactics were toned down to make it easier. The original arcade version is available for PlayStation 2 bundled with Gradius IV (Gradius III and IV), although the port has some slight differences from the original.
Picadilly Gradius (1989)
Nemesis (1990)
The first Gradius for a portable system, in this case Nintendo's Game Boy. The name Nemesis was kept for the game's worldwide release. It combined elements from Gradius and Gradius 2 (the MSX versions), as well as some all-new features. It was later remade as one of the four games in the Konami GB Collection Vol. 1 for Game Boy Color entitled "Gradius".
Gradius: The Interstellar Assault (1991)
Another Gradius game exclusively for the Game Boy. It was one of the larger Game Boy carts in existence at the time (2-Megabits), and was completely different from the rest of the series—most of them used music, enemies, bosses and even levels from previous games in the series, but this one did not, except for the boss music from the first Gradius game with the addition of a small original part to the piece. A little bit of the "between levels" music from Gradius III can also be found at the very first part of the game. It was released as Nemesis II in Japan and as Nemesis II: Return of the Hero in Europe.
Salamander 2 (1996)
The follow-up to Salamander. Had several interesting features, such as the Option Shot, the ability to launch the Options as homing projectiles. After firing, an Option would revert to a smaller, less powerful unit called an Option Seed, which revolves around the ship firing the default shot. Weaponry includes Twin Laser, Ripple Laser, and standard Laser. Like its predecessor, Salamander 2 uses a conventional power-up system, rather than the Gradius power meter. Upon acquiring a second power-up of the same type, your weapons are twice as powerful for a short duration (10 seconds). The game features variations of previous Salamander bosses, such as the Golem and Tetran.
Gradius Gaiden (1997)
The first Gradius produced exclusively for a home console. This is also the only Gradius game (other than Gofer no Yabō Episode II on the MSX) where players can select which ship they wish to use. Gradius Gaiden includes the Lord British Space Destroyer from Salamander and two (relative) newcomers: the Jade Knight and the Falchion β (a variation of the ship from the Famicom Disk System game Falsion). It was originally released for the PlayStation console and ported in 2006 as part of Gradius Collection for the PlayStation Portable.
Solar Assault (1997)
Solar Assault is an arcade 3D rail shooter in the lines of Star Fox or Panzer Dragoon, with Gradius's settings. As usual, Vic Viper makes an appearance here, with two other ship choices available: Lord British and Alpina. This game was very obscure and was never ported to any console system.
Gradius IV (1999)
Released in Japanese arcades as Gradius IV Fukkatsu ("fukkatsu" (復活) being Japanese for "revival", since it was the first arcade Gradius game in 10 years, following 1989's Gradius III). IV lacked the Weapon Edit function of its predecessor, but it had a bigger array of weaponry than the original Gradius games. Weapons exclusive to this game included the Vertical Mine missile (which detonates in a vertical line shortly after deployment) and the Armor Piercing laser (a shorter-ranged, more powerful laser). Released on the PS2 in a compilation pack together with the arcade version of Gradius III (Gradius III and IV).
Gradius Advance (2001)
The first Gradius to be created by a development team other than Konami's own internal teams (by Mobile21, to be exact). A Game Boy Advance title, it is known as Gradius Galaxies in USA and as Gradius Generation in Japan. The Japanese version, being the last to be released, has a number of exclusive challenge modes added and includes an additional invisible 5000 point bonus in one of the levels.
Gradius V (2004)
Gradius V was released in September 2004 for the PlayStation 2. Graphics are rendered in full 3D, although gameplay is still mostly 2D; some areas change the position and perspective of the camera to emphasize the 3D environment. Treasure (developers of Gunstar Heroes, Guardian Heroes, Radiant Silvergun and Ikaruga, among others) were primarily responsible for Gradius V development. In the Japanese first-press limited edition, the game included a book detailing internal design, background, and a road map of the Vic Viper series (i.e., "Vic Viper" is the name of a ship series, rather than a single ship), and pre-ordered North American copies included a DVD detailing the history of the series (including Scramble) and replays of Gradius V.
Gradius NEO (2004)
Released only to mobile phones, it features another storyline, taking place roughly 2000 years after the last Nemesis. The first game to give players the ability to control their "Multiples" in formations, with formations variable depends on buttons.
Gradius Collection (2006)
A Gradius compilation for PlayStation Portable. This compilation contains the classic versions of Gradius I-IV with a few bonus features thrown in as well as the first international release of Gradius Gaiden.
Gradius ReBirth (2008)
A Gradius title for WiiWare. It draws many elements from the MSX games and could be considered a heavy remake of those games.
Gradius ARC (2010)
In March 2010, a Japanese trademark database update revealed a filing for this name, submitted by Konami.[4] The "Arc" portion of the name coincided with a pre-release name of the PlayStation Move. This was only coincidence, however, as Gradius Arc —Ginyoku no Densetsu— (Gradius Arc —Legend of the Silvery Wings—) was revealed on September 30, 2010, to be a tactical RPG for cell phones.[5]
Gradius the Slot (2011)
A pachislot game released in Japan in July 2011.[6] It was developed by KPE division of Konami. Soundtrack for the game was released in September 2011.


Parodius series (1988–2010)
The Parodius series, started in 1988, is similar to Gradius, but with more cartoony settings. The name is a portmanteau of "parody" and "Gradius". Many of the mainstays of the Gradius series are included, albeit in a parodied format; this includes neon-colored core warships, effeminate moai, and large dancing women as bosses. Early games focused mainly on parodying Gradius games, but more recent games have poked fun at other Konami franchises, including Castlevania and Ganbare Goemon. The games offer a large number of different characters to use, each with different weapons. The characters consist of ones created for the series, such as Takosuke, and popular Konami characters like Pentarou and Upa (from Bio Miracle Bokutte Upa). Vic Viper also appears in all titles. The Parodius games also distinguish themselves from the Gradius series in their music. Unlike the Gradius games, whose music are either unique to each game or refer to earlier games in the series, the music in the Parodius games parodies a diverse pool of public domain sources, including a large contingent of classical music.
Otomedius (2007)
A newer take from Konami on Gradius spoof, this game features anime girl representations, designed by Mine Yoshizaki, of Vic Viper and Lord British, in a mecha musume-style approach. The name is a portmanteau of "otome" (乙女, a Japanese word meaning "maiden") and "Gradius."

Canceled games[edit]

  • Gradius Wide - (Canceled)
  • Gradius VI - (Canceled)
Originally announced in 2005 Tokyo Game Show, this was one of the developing titles for the PlayStation 3, scheduled for the 2006 release. However, due to unknown reasons, the development was completely scrapped and delayed.

Common elements[edit]

There are several gameplay elements that are common to almost all the Gradius games. These include, but are not limited to:

Power meter[edit]

One of the defining characteristics of the Gradius series is the use of a "power meter." The power meter is powered by a power-up item, whose purpose, when collected, is to move a highlight to the next power-up on the power meter. When a power-up that the player wants becomes highlighted, he or she may activate it, also causing the highlight to reset.

For example, when the player collects a power-up item for the first time, the first power-up (usually a speed increase) becomes highlighted.

Gradius power meter with first power-up highlighted

The player may now activate this power-up to increase their speed, in which case the meter will revert to its original unhighlighted state. If, however, the player does not activate the power-up, and collects another power-up item, the highlight moves to the next item; in the original game this was a missile.

Gradius power meter with second power-up highlighted

The player may now activate this to receive a missile weapon, again causing the bar to revert to its unhighlighted state, or choose to hold out for the next item, a double gun. Traditionally, the power-ups with greater effects are placed toward the end of the bar, so that the player must do more work to obtain them, although in some titles like Gradius III: From Legend to Myth a harmful power-up exists at the end which will restore the default (weak) weapon configuration.

Other games using a similar power-up method include Contra Force by Konami, Slap Fight by Toaplan, Rare's Cobra Triangle, Ocean's Wizball, and Epic Games's Overkill.

Weapon edit[edit]

Weapon Edit, first introduced in Gradius III (For Arcade and Super Famicom/Super NES), allows players to construct a custom weapon route (the content of the power meter) from the basic categories, such as missile and laser, instead of using one of the predefined weapon routes.

Core warships[edit]

The concept of the "Core" is a central part of Gradius. Cores are usually blue, glowing masses of energy hidden within large warships and protected by a series of barriers. All cores must be targeted in order to defeat a warship, which normally comprises several phases and often uses the terrain to its advantage. In some cases, a core is closed or not vulnerable at the beginning of a battle, only opening or becoming susceptible to attack some moments later by turning blue. Additionally, the announcer will normally urge the player to "Destroy the core!" or "Shoot the core!" prior to an encounter. For other types of bosses, like large beasts, the announcer may command the player to "Destroy the eye!" or "Destroy the mouth!", depending on the boss.


The moai statues of Easter Island (Chile) appear as enemies in several Gradius games. They are mounted on either side of flat, free-floating platforms and fire a series of colorful rings at the Vic Viper. Their weak point is traditionally their open mouth. Because they face at an angle or lie flat on the ground, the upward-facing moai are best destroyed with missiles. Since their debut in the first Gradius game, they have become so intertwined with the series that it is not uncommon for them to cameo in other Konami games. There have even been four games where the moai has been a playable character, the first being an action platform game with Konami characters called Konami Wai Wai World and a platform/puzzle game named Moai-kun, both for the Famicom. After turning up in the PlayStation battle game Poy Poy, they later appeared in a racing game titled Konami Krazy Racers for the Game Boy Advance and in the fighting game DreamMix TV World Fighters for the Nintendo GameCube and PlayStation 2. In the PS2 game Castlevania: Curse of Darkness, a player can collect a moai item behind the castle, provided he or she has a Lament of Innocence game save on the memory card. The mask also appears in the Nintendo game "Castlevania". After you beat the game once, you continue playing starting from the first level. When you reach the second level, the Moai mask appears as a treasure. A moai mask also can be found in Hideo Kojima's Snatcher. In the Salamander OVA, the antagonist Paola deceived one of the protagonists (Eddie) into destroying a moai obelisk in the deserts of northern Gradius. Unknown to Eddie, the moai statue was actually repelling the Bacterians from planet Gradius, whereas Paola had lied that it was drawing the Dark Forces to the planet.

Multiple loops[edit]

After the credits roll at the end of the game, the game restarts at the first stage with the Vic Viper retaining any upgrades from the previous loop.[citation needed] Each loop becomes progressively harder as enemies gain greater speed and projectile capabilities. This cycle normally continues up to the limit specified within the settings for arcade titles and indefinitely for certain console versions until the player exhausts all reserve ships and chooses not to continue.

Boss Rush[edit]

First introduced in Gradius II, and in some instances referred to as "Boss on Parade," the Boss Rush is a sequence of boss encounters where the player must fend off four or more Core Warships and in some cases biological entities, some of which are recreations from preceding games.

Option Hunter[edit]

Resembling something of an invertebrate with mandibles, the Option Hunter (also called "Option Eater" and "Option Thief") appears from the left side of the screen at regular intervals if the player carries four Options. Before launching from the left, it briefly makes its presence known with a loud siren and temporarily mimics the player movement to better its chances of capturing Options. Unless the player takes evasive action, any or all Options may be removed. The Option Hunter has never appeared in any of the Salamander series, with the exception of the MSX version.

Cheat code[edit]

The NES/Famicom port of Gradius represents the first ever use of the Konami Code.[7] If the player pauses the game and enters the Konami Code (Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right, B, A), they will be given most of the power-ups except Laser, Double and Speed Up. Later console versions of the games sometimes include two variations of the Code (one that gives the Double weapon and one that gives the Laser weapon), and some include a "fake" version of the Code that causes the Vic Viper to self-destruct instead.


Though characters are rarely seen or mentioned, there are several characters from the MSX titles and the anime, as well as the recent Gradius ReBirth.

  • James Burton

Born in the year 6641, James Burton was the pilot of the Vic Viper in the first war with the Bacterians at age 17 in 6658 (Gradius). In the year 6666 at age 25, he piloted Metalion to defeat Dr. Venom and became LARS XVIII (emperor) of Gradius/Nemesis. In Salamander, in the year 6709 he sends Iggy Rock and Zowie Scott to save planet Latis from the Zelos Force. He later dies in the year 6718. He reappears in the MSX title Nemesis 3 and Gradius ReBirth on the Wii. James and Dr. Venom are thus far the only recurring characters in the Gradius series (not to mention with detailed background information).

  • Dr. Venom

Previously the Director General of Gradius' Space Science Agency, Dr. Venom was banished to planet Sard by LARS XVII for an attempted coup d'état in the year 6664. One year later he escapes and attacks planet Gradius and the seven colony planets it controls, forming an unholy alliance with the Bacterians. He is apparently killed by James Burton at the end of Gradius 2 (MSX) but returns in Salamander in the year 6709, revived in the core of Zelos' warplanet Salamander. He appears again in Gofer no Yabō Episode II/Nemesis 3. He attempts to kill an infant James Burton by joining forces with Gofer and traveling to the past but is ultimately stopped by James' descendant David Burton. Dr. Venom is mentioned again by the Bacterian in Gradius V and appears in Gradius ReBirth. Even more interesting, it is revealed that Dr. Venom himself developed both the Vic Viper and the Metalion space fighters.

  • Bacterians

Bacterians are biological alien creatures that can take assimilate any life form much like The Thing. They have the ability to take over planets and turn them into living creatures. They also have the ability to take over machines, computers and weapons such as military vehicles. No one knows for sure what happens to humans at the hands of Bacterians. They do not have an original form of their own.

  • Bacterion

Bacterion was the original leader of the Bacterians and started the first Bacterian War. He was defeated by James Burton at the end of Gradius, but he survived. He joined forces with another evil entity called Dark Force and evolved into a different form and returned in Gradius III: From Legend to Myth but was defeated again. The villain returned a third time in Gradius Advance but was destroyed again.

  • Van Landroth Frehley

Though never seen in the game, Frehley is the head of the Imperial Space Archaeology Institute of planet Gradius. He is mentioned in the MSX Salamander's manual, describing the approaching crisis of the Zelos Force and planet Latis.

  • Iggy Rock

One of the pilots sent to save planet Latis from the Zelos Force in Salamander. He pilots the craft Sabel Tiger.

  • Zowie Scott

A second pilot sent to save planet Latis from the Zelos Force alongside Iggy Rock. She pilots the craft Thrasher.

  • David Burton

A descendant of James Burton in Nemesis 3. In-game texts says he has as much pilot experience as James. He pilots the craft Vixen with his AI Gaudie and sets out to repel Bacterion and save an infant James Burton.

  • Gaudie

David Burton's ship AI. She gives David information throughout the course of the game's story. She also helps David's ancestor James Burton, providing him with information inside the Vic Viper in Gradius ReBirth. A future, modified version of Gaudie appears to have installed in the newer Vic Viper units in Gradius V.


The 17th ruler of Gradius who exiled Dr. Venom to planet Sard and was assassinated prior to the beginning of the game. He is never seen in the game.

  • Dan

A non-canon character from the Salamander anime. He pilots one of the three Vic Vipers along with Eddie and Stephanie. He finds their circumstances strange, between Gradius ships mysteriously vanishing and Paola seeming so calm about the looming threat of the Bacterians. Dan is a lieutenant in the Gradius army.

  • Eddie Evans

A non-canon character from the Salamander anime based on the games. He pilots one of the three Vic Viper craft. He is said to have had top honors in Gradius' military academy. His family was exiled from planet Latis but warmly welcomed by planet Gradius/Nemesis. In "Meditating Paola" (based on Gradius), Eddie has a sharp tongue and grumpy attitude but seems to soften when he meets Paola, a green-haired girl with telekinetic abilities whom he, Dan, and Stephanie rescued off a damaged ship orbiting not far from Gradius. Later after being demoted for disobeying orders not to engage the Bacterians to reveal a weakness, he sneaks Paola from observation so she can lead him to what is attracting the Bacterians. Taking a Vic Viper craft to the deserts of northern Gradius, they find there a moai obelisk that Paola tells him is attracting the dark forces and destroy it. However, it is revealed that the moai statue was actually repelling the Bacterians and that Paola had tricked him, revealing herself to be a Bacterian, transforming into a massive dragon and fleeing, thanking Eddie for his help, as well as taunting him that he, his friends, and the rest of Gradius will be eradicated by them. Heartbroken, he screams that he never trusted her to begin with, just like Dan. He even tries to convince her that he is not from planet Gradius/Nemesis but from another planet. He eventually gives up and admits that racism exists on every planet, regarding his family's exile form Latis and Paola's hatred for Gradians. In the episode "Salamander" (based on Salamander), he travels with his friends to planet Latis to destroy planet Salamander, a planetoid deformed by the Bacterians (compared to the story in the MSX Salamander or the third level's background music title, this may have been planet Odysseus or planet Ratis). He soon gets into a poor relationship with Latis' ruler Ike Lord British. After snooping around for clues about his father's origins on the planet, he leaves, claiming that he would rather give his life to protect planet Gradius than a planet who exiled his family to protect its selfish and overconfident ruler. When the others later engage the fire dragon at the core of Salamander, he returns with his Vic Viper and sacrifices himself to kill the apparently invincible dragon by flying his craft inside its body to buy his friends (claiming he wasn't dying for Ike Lord British or Latis but his father's home world) enough time to destroy Salamander's core. When Dan, Stephanie, and Lord British return to planet Latis, Ike Lord British decides to erase the incident of the Evans Family and tells his advisers to record Eddie Evans' name in Latis history and to make sure he is never forgotten as the hero who saved planet Latis. Dan reveals to Lord British that despite Eddie having a sharp tongue, he did indeed die to save Lord British's planet and Gradius.

  • Priest Doromo

Lord British's chief advisor who predicts the coming of the fire dragon and the insane force calling itself Salamander. Out of desperation he calls for the aid of Gradius who had defeated the Bacterians before, much to his lord's annoyance.

  • Zelos

Zelos is the massive space dragon on the cover of the games Salamander and Life Force. Life Force's game manual says that Zelos was born from others of his kind (Mom & Pa Zelos) and given the name Zelos for his unexplainable hostility toward other beings (his name meaning in their language "One mean son of a gun!"). After growing up, Zelos traveled the universe and started feasting on planets and stars. Eventually he even started devouring whole galaxies and was said to have killed over 2,000,000,000,000 lifeforms as his dinner. At some point he turned to one of Gradius' colony planets, Latis, as a dessert course and planet Gradius itself as a side dish. In the MSX Salamander, he surrounded planet Latis with his armada (the Zelos Force) and set up a stronghold on planet Odysseus, apparently changing its name to Salamander. Latis soon sent a distress signal to planet Gradius/Nemesis and LARS XVIII (James Burton) sent Iggy Rock (Sabel Tiger pilot) and Zowie Scott (Thrasher pilot) to assist them and destroy the Zelos Force in operation Crush Blow. In Life Force's manual, planet Latis sent its best fighter, the Lord British Space Destroyer, to assist them while Gradius also sent Vic Viper. In the MSX Salamander's ending, after the pilots reach the core of planet Salamander (Odysseus), Dr. Venom is reincarnated in the planet's core (the Zelos Sphere) and revealed to be the true mastermind of the invasion. Depending on the players' actions in-game, Dr. Venom kills the pilots and the entire operation (Crush Blow) becomes a complete failure. But, it's a success if the player tries again and collects all the pieces of prophecy. In the Salamander OVA, Zelos is the planetoid green warship that was referred to as the super fortress XEAROUS in the European game manual of Nemesis.

  • Doom

The main antagonist of Salamander 2. Unlike most final bosses in the series, instead of being brain-like in appearance, Doom has a humanoid torso and three heads mounted atop his shoulders facing in opposite directions, which he uses to spin around and fire numerous projectiles. He is also the only final boss to actually give the player a challenge after giving the usual "this is only the beginning"-type speech. Plot-wise, Doom seems to have somehow revived the Zelos Force and a Salamander for his invasion, as seen in the game's intro.

  • Captain Ebara

Though little is known about this male character, he is the current pilot of Vic Viper in Gradius V. He repels Bacterian forces from an orbital military station near planet Gradius/Nemesis and encounters his future self requesting aid in destroying Bacterion's fortress. He eventually travels through time and manages to obliterate Bacterion with the help of his future self. Though his name is not directly revealed in the game itself, the character's name is mentioned on Eric Kelso's website, who voices the character. His catchphrase seems to be, "Let's Roll!" The Vic Viper's CPU voice, which appears to be a heavily-modified version of Gaudie, is provided by Buster Winters.

Gradius Arcade Soundtrack[edit]

Gradius Arcade Soundtrack
KMCA-155 front.jpg
Soundtrack album by Various Artists
Released April 24, 2002 (Japan)
Genre Video game music
Length 134:34
Label Konami Music Entertainment Inc.
Producer Shigenori Iwase

The Gradius Arcade Soundtrack is a 2-disc compilation of BGM and arrangements from Konami's Gradius series, primarily composed by Konami Kukeiha Club with arrangements by prominent video game composers such as Sōta Fujimori and Miki Higashino. It was released exclusively in Japan on April 24, 2002.[8][9][10]

Track listing[edit]

Disc one[edit]

  1. "Morning Music" – 1:10
  2. "COIN" – 0:04
  3. "Beginning of the History" – 0:33
  4. "Challenger 1985" – 0:58
  5. "Beat Back" – 0:57
  6. "Blank Mask" – 0:55
  7. "Free Flyer" – 0:57
  8. "Mazed Music" – 0:48
  9. "Mechanical Globule" – 1:19
  10. "Final Attack – 0:59
  11. "BOSS" – 0:31 (Note: Called "Aircraft Carrier" in some instances.)
  12. "GAME OVER" – 0:08
  13. "RANKING BGM" – 0:35
  14. "Title Demo" – 0:34
  15. "COIN" – 0:04
  16. "Equipment" – 0:44
  17. "TABIDACHI" – 0:55
  18. "A Shooting Star" – 0:53
  19. "Burning Heat" – 0:59
  20. "Synthetic Life" – 1:34
  21. "Crystal World" – 1:35
  22. "A Way Out of The Difficulty" – 0:51
  23. "The Old Stone Age 1.2" – 1:28
  24. "Maximum Speed" – 0:50
  25. "Gradius BOSS Theme" – 0:28
  26. "Salamander BOSS Theme" – 1:17
  27. "Fire Dragon" – 0:40
  28. "Into Hostile Ship" – 1:24
  29. "Shoot and Shoot" – 0:46
  30. "The Final Enemy" – 1:00
  31. "Take Care!" – 0:30
  32. "GAME OVER" – 0:10
  33. "RANKING BGM" – 0:38
  34. "Farewell" – 0:43
  35. "DEMO MOVIE" – 1:54
  36. "SELECT" – 0:56
  37. "ENDING" – 2:02
  38. "Hope & Joy Peace & Love (Gradius)" (Miki Higashino) – 4:25
  39. "Farewell (Gradius II)" (Motoaki Furukawa) – 5:21
  40. "Maximum Speed (Gradius II)" (Kouichi Namiki) – 4:51
  41. "Gradius Medley (Gradius)" (Sōta Fujimori) – 7:17
  42. "Medley (Gradius Generation)" (caolin & sano) – 4:18
  43. "Challenger 1985 (Gradius)" (DJ Sharpnel) – 3:23
  44. "Dead End Cell (Gradius III)" (Nazo² Project) – 4:27

Disc two[edit]

  1. "COIN" – 0:04
  2. "Prelude of Legend (Title BGM)" – 1:02
  3. "Invitation (Select BGM)" – 1:12
  4. "Departure for Space" – 1:14
  5. "Try to Star" – 0:55
  6. "Sand Storm" – 1:42
  7. "Aqua Illusion" – 1:24
  8. "In The Wind" – 1:50
  9. "Underground" – 1:36
  10. "High Speed Dimension" – 1:29
  11. "Easter Stone" – 1:59
  12. "Dead End Cell" – 1:58
  13. "Fire Scramble" – 1:38
  14. "Cosmo Plant" – 2:03
  15. "Crystal Labyrinth" – 2:19
  16. "Mechanical Base" – 1:19
  17. "Final Shot" – 1:25
  18. "Escape to The Freedom" – 0:35
  19. "BOSS" – 2:42
  20. "Dark Force" – 0:32
  21. "GAME OVER" – 0:10
  22. "King of Kings" – 1:02
  23. "Congratulations" – 0:15
  24. "Return to The Star" – 1:21
  25. "A Long Time Ago" – 1:48
  27. "COIN" – 0:04
  28. "DEMO BGM" – 0:16
  29. "SELECT BGM" – 0:34
  30. "APOLLON" – 1:24
  31. "FEITON" – 0:47
  32. "HYDRA" – 1:39
  33. "DEMETER" – 1:16
  34. "OCEANUS" – 1:34
  35. "CHRONOS" – 1:23
  36. "HADES" – 1:22
  37. "URANUS" – 1:38
  38. "HERA" – 1:39
  39. "DUPON" – 0:44
  40. "BOSS BGM 1" – 0:41
  41. "BOSS BGM 2" – 0:32
  42. "PROMETHEUS" – 1:22
  43. "ATHENA" – 1:48
  44. "TITANS" – 1:08
  45. "GAME OVER" – 0:10
  46. "RANKING BGM" – 0:40
  47. "GAIA" – 1:06
  48. "DEMO MOVIE 1" – 2:09
  49. "DEMO MOVIE 2" – 2:50
  50. "SELECT" – 3:49


  • EXECUTIVE PRODUCER: Akihiko Nagata, Takaharu Ikeda
  • PRODUCER: Shigenori Iwase
  • DIRECTOR: Masaki Takeuchi
  • ASSISTANT: Takeshi Yamagami
  • ARRANGE SOUND COMPOSER: 東野美紀、古川元亮、Nazo2 Project、並木晃一、藤森崇多, caolin & sano, DJ Sharpnel
  • ART DIRECTOR: Hiroshi Banno, IKE-JUN
  • PRODUCTION MANAGEMENT: Mamiko Takeuchi, Ari Hanada
  • A&R: Akio Mishima (KING RECORDS)
  • PROMOTER: Takayuki Ogura, Misako Yoshii, Mitsuyoshi Taguchi, Tetsuro Kaneko (KING RECORDS)
    • SALES PROMOTER: Mitsuhiro Nakajima (KING RECORDS)
  • RECORDING ENGINEER: NICK JAMES (Sounds Voodoo / DISC1 #38), Masatoshi Sakimoto (DISC1 #44)
    • RECORDING STUDIO: Sounds Voodoo Studio (DISC1 #38), Little Bach Aoyama (DISC1 #44)
  • SOUND COODINATOR: Akira Uchibori (A-TRIBE Co.,Ltd./GUHROOVY) (DISC1 #43)
  • Noritada Matsukawa (Konami TYO)
    • Nobuhiko Matsufuji (Konami TYO)
    • Akira Yamaoka (Konami TYO)
    • Shunsaku Shimizu (Mobile21)
    • Akira Goshima (KONAMI)
    • YOKO JK (Sounds Voodoo)
    • S.P.S Co.,Ltd.
    • Genshichi Yasui


The Gradius series was created when Machiguchi Hiroyasu was given a team to work with and asked everyone what kind of game they wanted to develop, to which they responded "STG" (shooting game), with the intent of surpassing Namco's Xevious.[11] They decided to make it a horizontal shooting game because they wanted to reuse material from Scramble as much as possible, and Gradius was originally named Scramble 2.[11] The development lasted for a year after refining and experimenting with the gameplay. The team originally tried twenty different movement patterns for the Options and used a process of elimination when something did not work.[11] For the story, Hiroyasu's team was inspired by science fiction movies, with the popular sci-fi films at the time being Star Wars and the anime adaptations of Lensman. The team saw Lensman together and it had an impact on the game's story. Its plasma laser also left a big impression on them and was why Gradius featured a Laser weapon.[11] The Moai were included because they wanted to add a mysterious element to the game like Xevious and its Nazca Lines.

Critical reception and legacy[edit]

Hideki Kamiya stated in an interview that Gradius is one of the top three key inspirational games from his past.[12]

The Vic Viper ship outline is a selectable arrow graphic on the arcade version of Dance Dance Revolution SuperNova 2.

Video in the background about Vic Viper ship is being shown during game play when the song "SABER WING (AKIRA ISHIHARA Headshot mix)" or "SABER WING" is selected by the player in the arcade edition of Dance Dance Revolution X.

Vic Viper also makes appearances in the anime Sky Girls, and as a mech that resembles the original ship in Zone of the Enders: The 2nd Runner.

The Yu-Gi-Oh! Trading Card Game features many cards based on the series. This includes the cards of "Gradius", "Boss Rush", "Option Hunter", and several of the bosses known in the card game as B.E.S type machines. Though in the series Gradius is a planet, in the card game Gradius takes the form of a fighter jet. The Japanese name of the card is "Super Dimension Fighter: Vic Viper". More cards featured in the card game based on the Gradius series are "Victory Viper XX03", "Jade Knight", "Falchionβ", "DUCKER Mobile Cannon", and "Lord British Space Fighter".

In addition, the cards based on the series have made appearances in the Yu-Gi-Oh! anime and manga. In the original Yu-Gi-Oh! anime, the fighter jet Gradius (Vic Viper) first appears in episode 47, being used by Duke Devlin in a duel against Joey Wheeler. It later appears again in episode 116 when Noah Kaiba duels Seto Kaiba. In both appearances, the player using Gradius won their respective duels. The final appearance of Gradius related cards in Yu-Gi-Oh! anime was in Yu-Gi-Oh! GX episode 71. In this episode the character Lorenzo, who notably is a champion of shooting arcade games, uses the B.E.S. monster cards (based on the bosses in the game) along with "Boss Rush" against Jaden Yuki.

These cards also make appearances in many of the Yu-Gi-Oh! video games.


  1. ^ "The Arcade Flyer Archive - Video Game Flyers: Nemesis, Konami (North America)". 
  2. ^ "The Arcade Flyer Archive - Video Game Flyers: Nemesis, Konami (International)". 
  3. ^ In the X68000 version of Gradius II, switching the title mode to "USA" will change the game's name to Vulcan Venture.
  4. ^ Yip, Spencer. "Gradius Arc? Color Us Curious, Konami". Retrieved 2010-06-04. 
  5. ^ Ishida, Katsuo. "KONAMI、モバイル「グラディウス・アーク」サービス開始". GAME Watch. Retrieved 2010-10-13. 
  6. ^ Ficha de Gradius en P-World
  7. ^ "Cracking the Code: The Konami Code". Retrieved 2010-07-15. 
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^ a b c d Game Hiyou 9/99
  12. ^ Mielke, James (August 18, 2006). "The Kamiya Touch: An Interview with Clover's Hideki Kamiya". Retrieved 2009-04-06.