|Release date|| JPN May 29, 1985|
EU September, 1985
NA December 1, 1986
|Genre||Horizontal scrolling shooter|
|Mode(s)||Up to two players, alternating turns|
|Age rating(s)||ESRB: Everyone|
|Platform(s)|| Arcade (original)|
|Input||8-way joystick, 3 buttons|
|Credits | Soundtrack | Codes | Walkthrough|
Gradius (グラディウス) is a horizontally-scrolling shoot 'em up released by Konami in 1985 for video arcades. The original arcade game was released outside Japan as Nemesis, although most of the home versions released worldwide used the original title.
Gradius has the distinction of popularizing a weapon selection bar called "Power meter", based upon collecting capsules to 'purchase' additional weapons. The game was ported to many systems, most notably the Nintendo Entertainment System (with this version also appearing on the Wii's Virtual Console) and the Japanese MSX computer. The game has also been ported to the PlayStation Network.
The game became synonymous with the phrase, "Shoot 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 whilst 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 464-6128, Commodore 64, Microsoft Windows, MSX, NEC PC-8801, NES, PC Engine, Virtual Console, Sharp X1, Sharp X68000, Mobile phones, Sega Saturn, PlayStation and Sinclair ZX Spectrum. 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.
- Alfa Records released a limited-edition soundtrack album for this game (Konami Game Music Vol.1 – 28XA-85) on 27/06/1986.
- Apollon Music released a limited-edition soundtrack album for this game (Original Sound of Gradius – KHY1016) on 05/05/1987.
- 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 (arcade game)
- Gradius (video game) wiki guide at StrategyWiki