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Pretty much everything about your review is misleading or just plain wrong. Disclaimer, I actually don't like Gradius II.
If you're like me, your eyebrows shot up a little when you saw this available on the Wii Virtual Console. I consider myself a casual shooter fan, I can beat Gradius, Life Force, and Gradius III with relative ease. Heck, even Ikaruga didn't pose much of a threat after a good amount of practice.
You're playing the dirt easy NES and SNES versions of those games, enough said. Ikaruga is fairly easy though, people overstate its difficulty too much.
Oh ho ho, not in Gradius II. If you die in any tough spot, you're almost certainly not going to be able to press on any further without having some good upgrades. You're forced to restart the level, or worse – the entire game. The default setting of Gradius II is to give you only 3 lives and no continues. Die once, you're pretty much done unless it happens in one of the first few levels. The other way to play is that the game does give you the option to continue infinitely as if you were playing in an arcade.
This is the really big problem with Gradius II: it started the Gradius syndrome. Yes, ironically, the original Gradius is completely free from this, and is otherwise a well-designed game. This is why I dislike most of the Gradius games and will rep Gradius and Gradius Gaiden over the others every time.
An arcade… that's why the Gradius games do not hold up well in my book. It's based on arcade elements. This is what I am referring to in my title by its primitive, flawed concept. Gradius is a terrific game for arcades and to make money. A good console game it is not. Gradius II was clearly designed to frustrate its player. It feels like a cheap, evil version of Gradius III. Here are a few key reasons why this game is so much harder than the others.
You are COMPLETELY wrong about both points.
1. Arcade games are not meant to be unfair or impossible quarter munchers, they're meant to be tough games that compel you to keep playing and beat the challenge. Throughout the late-'80s, Japanese arcade developers went crazy and started dropping all these hard games to challenge the increasing skill of the arcade playerbase, while Western developers just made really s***ty games that are barely playable. Similarly, Japan quickly learned better, while the West kept making mostly garbage into the early-'90s. Then Street Fighter II happened and almost took over every other arcade game for years, until 3D racing games hit their stride.
2. You've only ever played the SNES Gradius III, which is more like the NES Gradius II. You have never played the excrutiatingly hard arcade Gradius III, which is way harder than Gradius II could ever be. III is still very much beatable (once), and many people have done so; once again, most of Japan embraces the challenge, while most of the arcade fans in the West just whine about it. This is not to say that Gradius III is a good game, it's f***ing bulls***.
Gradius II is much easier in comparison, and it's actually a lot easier if you simply don't die, which isn't as hard as it sounds... I got to stage 7 after a bit of practice. It's still bulls*** and dying still sucks, but it's far more manageable.
And finally, related to the previous point is that the shields are terrible. You have the shield from the first Gradius and the force field from Life Force to choose from. They are big, bulky, and cannot stand up to much enemy fire. I really liked the Reduce shield in Gradius III and there's nothing like that in this game. There are many narrow passages in the game that will suck away your shield in no time flat even if your actual ship isn't touching the wall.
A friendly reminder that all of SNES Gradius III's weapons are also bulls*** and make an easy game even easier.
Your money is much better spent on one of the countless other must-play games on the Virtual Console. If you're set on wanting to try out a good shooter you've never played, you're better off with something like Blazing Lazers.
Yeah, Blazing Lazers, the hour-long slog where nothing happens for most of it. Get out of here. I'd stick to SNES Gradius III if I were you.
I stand by my review - this is a below average game, especially for the time it was re-released and what all else is available. I think the graphics and sound especially are great, but the bottom line is that it is not very fun to play and it really doesn't offer anything new or interesting whatsoever.
People get really delusional when they get mad at a game. Suddenly the game "doesn't offer anything new", even though it's literally the template for the vast majority of Gradius games, and one of the highest rated games by anyone who's actually played it. That's not even nostalgia, because Gradius II is one of the hardest games to access; very few people actually played it as kids.
This is why scores are idiotic: one 8 is not the same as another, even though that's the entire point of having numbers at all, and you have so many cases of genre-defining games like Gradius II having some really irritating design that should gouge out a few points.
A review is one person's opinion of a game. I'm not going to give it the score that a diehard fan would, I'm giving it the score I believe it deserves.
You clearly don't understand what opinion is. Opinion does not mean you get to lie about how a game stacks up to another, or give a "what were they thinking?" speech to the developers when you can't even approach the game on its own terms.
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