Review by Spidee

"Preparing to engage the enemy!"

Anyone remember a little medical condition called "Nintendo-itis"? It is what doctors called game players with very sore thumbs. It came about from the constant pressure put on the buttons or four-way cross. I had not had sore thumbs for quite some time.

Then Konami came out with the newest edition of the Gradius franchise. Now my thumbs are sore again!

I have been a fan of the Gradius series since the beginning. The first Gradius for the original Nintendo was a game I picked up accidentely. Just a basic side scrolling shooter but it was very addicting. Once you had mastered the stages, then it was finding the right weapon for the job. Eventually, the original became one of those "How far can you go without dieing" type of games.

Then there was Life Force. It added a new twist to the side scroller with vertical stages. It also added a new weapon, the ripple laser and multiplayer action. Next is Gradius III, a game I still play today, on the Super NES. It added the weapon customization feature which I very much enjoy. The only thing I never understood was that the final "boss" would die even if you never fired a shot (of course, so did the "brain" in the original.) I missed out on Gradius IV however.

But this is Gradius at it's best. Same side scrolling action but do not let that fool you. This is one tough game.


Konami has never let a gamer down in the graphics department and this game is no exception. The picture is very smooth and the explosions, whoa! The bosses combust like nothing I have seen in a video game. There are some familiar enemies that have been given a face lift and look better then ever. The backgrounds are rendered in complete 3D. The designers really put a lot of time into their work.


One of the odd little quirks about some of the previous games was that the game systems could not always handle the amount of pictures they had to draw. So if the screen filled up with enemy fire, the gameplay would slow down. Despite the depth of the graphics, this installment does not suffer from this problem. Just like previous games, you power up by collecting special capsules which highlight your weapon choices. Where before you could increase your speed to infinity, you now have only five levels to choose from. Initially, you only have four weapon configurations but if you meet certain conditions, you can unlock a weapon customization mode and set your weapons how you see fit.

One of the new features to the weapon setup is directional fire. Hold down the R1 button and your ship locks in place but your options will pivot 360 degrees to fire in any direction. Using your laser weapon literally creates of whip that can wipe every enemy off the screen.

The buttons are easily customized. You need one to activate your power ups and one to fire. You can choose from a single shot or rapid fire. The game also has an autosave option for high scores and progress. For every hour of gameplay, you can gain one continue credit. And believe me, you are going to need every one of them. After seventeen hours, you can earn freeplay mode.


One may find themselves so engrossed in trying to stay alive that you might not notice the music. The volume is set so that it does not distract you. There are some familiar tunes in there if you listen. The voices are clear but I will admit that hearing the game say "You need more practice" when you are out of ships can be a little annoying.

Overall, this is a great game and you could use up an afternoon or even an entire day on this game. You will need it too! This game is tough even on the very easy setting. Wait until you try the hard setting. It is almost insane!

Easy 10 out of 10.

But one question: Where are those Easter Island Moai statutes??

Reviewer's Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

Originally Posted: 10/04/04

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