Review by Aganar

"Old-school goodness"

Gradius was one of the first really popular space shooters. It was a revolutionary new type of game which ended up spawning many others. While not as fun as some of its sequels, Gradius still manages to pack a punch.

The graphics are amazing for the time. On it's own it looks like a very well-done Nintendo game. But more astoundingly is the fact that it's an arcade-perfect port. Your ship is small, but quite detailed. Some weapons are your ship's size or smaller. But, the bosses are also huge. In some cases, they can take up nearly half of the screen! Ranging from giant space stations to huge space monsters, to floating Easter Heads (?), the graphics are great. Not to mention some of the better backgrounds.

The story seems to be nonexistent. It's pretty typical otherwise. You, a small little space ship, must save the world from destruction and face impossible odds. You know how it goes. But then again, this is a space shooter. How many do we know of that actually tries to incorporate a story anyway?

The gameplay is that of an average shooter, but with a twist. First, you are scrolling through levels. Your ship fires at all the little or big enemies, avoiding contact or it will explode. There are of course your standard level warps, as well as bosses. The bosses are exceedingly powerful and will take many shots before destroyed. It's your standard ''Fire, dodge fire, fire,dodge fire'' gameplay. But, since this is one of the first ones to do it, you can't really complain.

The twist is the changes in weaponry that you can make. Killing certain enemies will reward you with power-ups. These power-ups can be used to change or modify your weapons. So, while your first weapon may just be your puny machine gun, getting enough powerups could not only give you another one, but it could change to a laser. Since different weapons work better on different bosses, you often have to change the basis of the weapon, but it's still all well and good. Most shooters only have something like adding missiles or something.

The game controls quite well. You don't really have too much room to move, since there is a scrolling screen that pushes you forward. But, the movement is quite fluent. It's somewhat annoying at times since you don't control what weapon you have, and often just accidentally getting a power-up can change it, but other than that the control is quite good.

Sound and Music are average. The sound has a variety of little beeps followed by a bunch of guns firing and explosions. The music is good. Most of the tunes are relaxing little space themes. No problems here.

The game is quite hard, so if you can actually beat it, there won't be too much of a reason to play all the way through it again. But, it's a fun game no matter how much you play it. You can always just pick it up some days and play the first level for a couple of minutes.

Overall, this is a revolutionary masterpiece for it's time. While being one of the first shooters, it still remains one of the best. Although, you might instead of buying this get your hands on one of its better sequels, like Gradius 3.


Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 02/17/03, Updated 02/17/03


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