Review by Psycho Penguin

Reviewed: 12/16/00 | Updated: 07/16/01

Great gameplay, great music, great game!

Growing up, I had about 45 NES games (this was before ''The Great Christamas Gift of 1996'' and ''the FuncoLand Splurge of Summer '98) Gradius was one of these 45 NES games. I remember buying this game several years back and not thinking much of it. Yay, another horizontal shooter. But as it turned out when I played the game for the first time, I loved it! The music was fantastic, the game play and control was very well done, and overall it was a fantastic game! I felt this was one of the coolest shooters ever made at the time, and I still enjoy playing it, even to this day. It is definitely one of the premiere games released for the NES, in my opinion. I liked everything about this game, from the graphics, to the music, everything was just awesome.

The story line and plot to this game were pretty basic, but what do you expect? First off, the game was released in 1986, so it is an amazing feat that it even had a plot and an ending to begin with. Secondly, it's a friggin shooter for christ's sake, and I seriosuly doubt anyone goes into a shooter hoping for a good story line. The story line is basically this: you are a pilot fighter named Vic Viper out to save the world from alien lifeforms. At least you are not trying to save another damn princess from yet another damn evil final boss or whatever unoriginal story lines were floating around back in 1986.

The graphics in Gradius were actually pretty good, considering it was a NES game released in the ''2nd generation'' of NES games. First off, the backgrounds were very simple in design, yet came off very effective. Most of them were basically black screens, but some were designed more efficently (mountains, volcanoes, etc.) Secondly, the enemy designs were very well done. Some of them came across as a little strange, but that's no big deal. Overall, the graphics in Gradius for the Nintendo Entertainment System were very well done!

Some of the music featured in Gradius will be remembered by me forever. Especially the first stage music. I especially remember and still enjoy listening to the music featured in the first stage. To say it was well done is an understatement. All of the other music in the game (like the boss theme, for instance) is very well done. I especially liked the variety of music in this game. The music was definitely very well done, as it bordered on cool themes and other sorts of junk. Like I said, I liked the music in the first stage best, but all of the music was pretty well done, to say the absolute least, in my opinion.

Sound effect wise, Gradius is good but certainly not perfect. I liked how there was a nice variety of quality sound effects in the game, from the sounds of the enemies and main character dying (a cool little explosion playing) to the sound of you gaining new items and weapons, Gradius had all the cool sound effects, and they all sounded well done. Kudos to Konami for the job they did with the sound effects in this game. Overall, Gradius for the Nintendo Entertainment System had great music and great sound effects! What an outstanding job by Konami in making such good music!

The control in this game is not the best ever, but it is definitely pretty solid. I liked how easy it was to switch between the weapons and options in the game. You collect items, and each time you collect a weapon your meter goes to the right by one. You can then press B and use this option that appears on your meter, or you can save it. The rest of the items and weapons are easy enough to use, like the shields. I was really impressed by the quality of control in this game and how solid it was.

Gradius may look like your average horizontal shooter at first, but you soon realize that it isn't and is much more innovative than the basic shooting game. There are a lot of things to this game that make it seem like a basic shooting game, and sure it, for the most part, certainly is, but give it some time and you will notice that this game is so much more than the average, ho hum, run of the mill horizontal shooter that were such a hot genre back in the days that this game was made. First off, the weapon system is quite unique. If you kill a group of enemies, you get a power pellet. After collecting a few power pellets, you can increase certain abilities, ranging from ''Speed Up'' to ''Shield''. Each of these abilities does certain things.

Here is basically how this unique system works: you start off with nothing, and on the bottom there is a long line with eight different names, separated by boxes. Each time you collect a power pellet, the meter moves over by one, and you can either choose to use this special option, or save it until you are into the next box. If you choose to use the option, you then have the ability to use it, and you must start over. You can combine special options and abilities, and you can definitely choose to get as much of them as you want. I really liked the weapon gaining aspect of this game, as it was really unique.

Secondly, the bosses are very cool! There are sometimes mini bosses (like the volcanoes in stage 1 and the boxes in stage 2) but the regular bosses can be quite the pain in the ass. I liked the mini bosses in the game more than the regular bosses, actually, because the mini bosses were a little more varied and definitely had more attack options then ''fly up and down and shoot tiny lasers at the little ship.'' I especially liked the boxes mini boss, but then again I already mentioned that, didn't I?

The replay value in this game is actually pretty solid, as I still find myself playing this game, even to this day. It is simply one of my favorite horizontally scrolling shooters of all time, and you will have a blast playing it if you are a fan of the genre like I am. I am not the world's biggest fan of the genre, but I know a good shooter when I see it, and this is definitely a good shooter. It is addictive, and like I said before, I still find myself playing this game from time to time, even to this day. And with all the games I have and have played in the past, it takes a game with great replay value to keep me attached to it for a while.

The challenge level of this game is pretty high, as is usually the case with games in this genre. The key to defeating this game is to memorize the patterns of the enemies. They always go in a certain pattern, so you will easily be able to figure out the pattern after a while. However, the game does prove to be quite tough even if you do know and figure out the enemy's patterns, because that's just the way this game is. I have completed this game once or twice, but not recently, I always got stuck halfway through or so, because of the limited amount of lives *coughs* and continues you get.

I prefer Gradius over Life Force, but I still liked both games a lot. I just found Gradius, with its cool weapon gaining system, to be a whole lot more fun. This game is very addictive and features everything a game needs to have in order to be successful. The graphics are awesome, the music and sound effects are solid, the control is well done, and the basic game play is pretty awesome. I was really impressed with this game and definitely feel that it is worth a purchase, especially if you are a fan of the genre.

''I like Gradius more than Life Force, even though 7 of 9 insane reviewers enjoy Life Force more!''

Good Points
-The graphics in the game are simply awesome.
-I really liked the music and sound effects in the game.
-The basic game play and control is awesome.
-The game features great replay value.

Not So Good Points
-Well, it could have been a little less challenging.
-The replay value does kind of suffer a little bit due to the challenge.

I Run Down the Ratings.. DaLadiesMan Style!
Story Line - 8.6/10
Graphics - 9.1/10
Music - 9.3/10
Sound Effects - 8.7/10
Control - 9.2/10
Game Play - 9.3/10
Replay Value - Above Average (Mike Sanders)
Challenge - Way Above Average
Is this game worth a purchase? - Most definitely.
Overall - 9.4/10

The Last Line
I was really impressed by the quality of this game, and I still consider it to be one of the all time great shooters, as well as one of the all time great NES games, of all time. It is definitely worth a purchase if you own a NES, especially if you are a fan of the genre. But non fans of the genre will probably find a lot to like about this game, as well. It really is that good of a game.

And that's a Ladies Man guarantee!

Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

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