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Gradius

Developer / Publisher: Konami
29 May 1985
Gradius - cover art
Glitchwave rating
3.06 / 5.0
0.5
5.0
 
 
157 Ratings / 3 Reviews
#2,270 All-time
#5 for 1985
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1985 Konami  
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1986 Konami  
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1986 Konami  
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1986 Konami  
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1986 Konami  
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XNA 0 83717 10001 0 NES-GR-USA
グラディウス ファミリーコンピュータ版
2006 Konami  
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2007 Konami  
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グラディウス PCエンジン版
2007 Konami  
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2012 Konami  
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2013 Konami  
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2013 Konami  
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2014 Konami  
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2015 Konami Hamster  
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2015 Konami  
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2017 Konami  
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2018 Konami Nintendo  
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Title
The entire ROM of Gradius is a little over 600Kb big. Comparatively, most high-end arcade games were still hanging in the 200s, while home computer and console titles would have to be crazy to try to break 64-128Kb. 600Kb for a game in 1985 though, was a jaw-dropping amount, and with it came a sense for fidelity never-before-seen in the history of games.

Gradius brings a lot of firsts. It's the earliest codifier for what we consider a stereotypical shoot em up; It was the first horizontal with stages ending with a unique boss battle. It had collectible power-ups that have define a palette of employable strategies. Its multitude of spaceships and aliens fly in weaving patterns learned from Galaga. And all while colourful pink and blue explosions bloom to an equally candy-like musical backing, hopping from various Gieger-inspired biological and mechanical worlds to Easter Island landmarks. Are we certain this is not Parodius already?

Where Gradius ups the ante in my opinion is its system of picking up your power-up. Rather, you don't pick power-ups, but 'purchase' them, in a sense, whereupon you pick up a special energy unit that raises a sliding bar at the bottom with various types of armaments. The more energy units you collect, the higher this bar goes, and so does it offer a more substantial and game-changing upgrade, which you can then initiate with a press of a button(and clear your accumulated power-up deposit).

Although its execution is naive despite being made with good intention(you can actually loop through the bar, and wind up upgrading from the highest power-up to the lowest again), it is very fortunate that all the power-ups reward their utility 90% of the time. The power-ups are, from the cheapest to the most expensive:

1. A speed-up, which is important to get as your first item, because versatility is absolutely detrimental to the game and boss fights
2. A pack of infinite missiles, which coast along the ground and you have an infinite supply
3. A primitive double shot, where you can shoot an additional bullet at 45deg upwards(but at the cost of a lower firing rate)
4. A laser that cuts through enemies like butter
5. "Options", which are floating bodies of energy that act as turrets and which you can develop four of them, and
6. "?", which is just a shield. It shields you from the front, but after absorbing a certain number of hits it vanishes.

It is highly recommended you begin every life by getting one speed-up(and possibly another one, but never more than two). Then, set your sights to getting the convenient laser as soon as possible. Once you've got this loadout, it becomes a matter of preferance and situation if you need the missiles, options, or shields next, while it becomes sadly aparent that the double shot is underperforming. I would still say it's probably better to get missiles next as they're so cheap, then getting one Option, then a shield, then the three remaining Options.

Be warned, Gradius pulls no punches, and even at the first level it is relentless with evidently unfair enemy spawns. The American release(by the name of 'Nemesis') had the courtesy to offer continues upon feeding the machine more coins, but even so you will be at an incredible disadvantage once you start with a pea-shooter again. I am of the opinion that if you retained some of the power-ups you get after death, that it would solve a lot of problems regarding this notorious "Gradius syndrome". Gradius had many accurate ports, but one I personally like is the Japan-exclusive Gradius Deluxe Pack for the PSX, which offers a native arcade experience in true 224p, audio recorded straight from authentic hardware, and(allegedly) bears with it an even more specialised easy mode, next to the predetermined sets of the arcade release. However, it still does not offer continues, but the more savvy gamers with a GameShark would know how to get past that.

Despite its punishing attitude, I have the heart to forgive Gradius just on the strength of its visual splendour. To see such a vast array of science fiction staples with rich detail is electrifying, and Gradius, to me, is a milestone in video game tech demos and hi-fidelity, which would be beaten by Outrun come next year. For a lot of people, myself included, Gradius is where our modern conception of video games started, and never looked back. 3.5

The NES version of Gradius is completely faithful(including the difficulty) yet its fidelity is so much less impressive. The music is almost unrecognisable. It does feature for the first time the signature Konami code, and it's best paired along with a 'rewind' feature on an emulator. Then it's great. (3.0)
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Clownboss 2017-08-12T15:36:04Z
2017-08-12T15:36:04Z
3.5
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The original Gradius is one of the most influential shmups of all time. It was a revolutionary game that completely changed the market. How does it hold up today? Well... It's not without its charm, and obviously its importance can't be understated, but I don't consider it a great game personally. To begin with I'm more of a vert-guy than a hori-guy, but even just talking horis, you can do a lot better than Gradius. Darius Gaiden, any Parodius game, Gundemonium Recollection, Harmful Park, DeathSmiles, Ordyne, Sengoku Blade and X-Multiply are some examples of horis that I would rather play than Gradius. Also, I think the Gradius series improved with later entries, and you don't need to play the first one before the later ones. This first game does a remarkably solid job at introducing its mechanics. Where I think the second game improved significantly has to do with the design of the levels and the bosses, making it more engaging, more immersive, and just better all around. I'd say as important as this game is, it's not really an essential game to have played unless you really want to know your shmup history. If you do wanna try it out, you might be pleased to find that it's not especially hard for an arcade game. It's good to learn how to control the rank, and to learn a few safespots first, but as long as those bases are covered, it's a pretty suitable game for beginners. As for people looking for a bigger challenge, well, the game loops infinitely, so have fun with that...
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A very basic shoot em up. It has nice art and controls for the time, but im not gonna lie, it feels a bit stiff and dull to play nowadays. It still offers a challenge, i will give it that.
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Threntall 2016-06-18T11:45:23Z
2016-06-18T11:45:23Z
2.0
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Catalog

Mucki Gradius 2022-11-23T01:29:40Z
2022-11-23T01:29:40Z
3.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
theamazingxyz Gradius 2022-11-20T22:37:34Z
2022-11-20T22:37:34Z
3.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Eyedoooit Gradius 2022-11-11T00:47:26Z
2022-11-11T00:47:26Z
D+
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
BeardedCivilizer Gradius 2022-11-01T20:44:14Z
2022-11-01T20:44:14Z
2.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
secondskin Gradius 2022-10-10T09:55:41Z
2022-10-10T09:55:41Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
MirM Gradius 2022-09-14T06:48:38Z
2022-09-14T06:48:38Z
3.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
bleakage Gradius 2022-09-07T09:03:14Z
2022-09-07T09:03:14Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Nintendo Online
prehistoricdoge Gradius 2022-09-06T19:23:43Z
2022-09-06T19:23:43Z
3.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
SneedDeck Gradius 2022-08-28T23:04:22Z
NES • XNA
2022-08-28T23:04:22Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
6655321 Gradius 2022-08-28T06:16:02Z
Switch
2022-08-28T06:16:02Z
3.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Neidhardt グラディウス 2022-08-10T10:05:15Z
NES • JP
2022-08-10T10:05:15Z
4.0
1
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Meriscan Gradius 2022-08-04T09:43:08Z
2022-08-04T09:43:08Z
2.5
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Also known as
  • グラディウス
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  • SemtexRevolution 2021-10-25 06:34:06.260168+00
    The arcade version's graphics and sound are very impressive for a video game from early 1985
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