Gradius was a shoot 'em up game for the arcade and the NES as well as the Sega Master System and Turbo Grafx 16. While the arcade version was the original and released in 1985, the NES and Master System versions were released the next year. The Turbo Grafx 16 version is the final version to be released in 1991 after two sequels hit the arcade. There is also a slightly modified Game boy version that was released.

Gradius is the story of a space ship named the Vic Viper that must destroy everything in its path to defeat the "Mother Brain". There are no friendlies. There are no safe areas. The game's objective is to use your firepower to destroy the minions of evil.

The ship's firepower is found through finding power ups. While a power up will not instantly power up a ship, it will raise the potential upgrade marker. At first the marker doesn't appear on the chart. After each power up the marker moves up the list of abilities. When the power up is used the marker resets so that it is off the chart and after the next power up starts over on the ladder at Speed. The power ups are

  • "Speed" which allows the ship to move twice as fast as normal.
  • "Missile" that allows the character to fire missiles that travels along the ground.
  • "Double" which increases the power of the main weapon.
  • "Laser" which changes the normal gun to a laser that is incredibly powerful
  • "Option" gives you a glowing orb that follows the ship and shoots and drops missiles. There can be two options that follow the ship.
  • "Shield" which gives the ability for five hits to be taken while it is active.

The game is a sprite based graphic game that is fun to play. The enemies tend to be simplistic but are above average for the age of the game. The ship is well defined as are the cavern walls.

The sounds of the game will remind players of the arcade, from the simple shooting of a laser to the explosion of death and defeat. The music is above average for an arcade game and a wonderfully groovy. The sounds suit the game perfectly.

Gradius has a simple ending of the ship leaving the planet and then the game restarts at a faster speed. There are only seven levels but the levels are hard. The classic shooter elements can all be seen in the game.


On the NES and Turbo Grafx 16 versions of the game if the player types in the famous Konami code (Up Up Down Down Left Right Left Right B A Start) will give the player all the power ups that they can get until they die the first time.

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