Gradius (NES) Retro Review

Gradius is a 1986 scrolling shooter for the NES developed and published by Konami. The game is well known for its powerup system which lets you decide what powerups you want instead of the predetermined ones that most other games use.

The title screen was quite simple but looked nice, especially the logo and the use of the ship as the pointer but it almost immediately goes to demo gameplay (which isn’t always a good thing) and theres no music on either of them. As for choices its just the simple 1 and 2 player modes with 2 player being the type where two people take turns.

There is music which is quite nice when you start the game though so its strange it doesn’t play during the demo too. When you get into gameplay you start off very slow and feeling quite weak but the controls are easy to get used to and so is the power bar. Basically every time you get a powerup it moves the selection to the right and you press B to get the powerup you want, it then resets so the better stuff needs more powerups to get which i personally find quite cool. However this also means there is a steep difficulty curve to start off with, especially since your powerups reset when you die and dying only takes a single hit.

It took me quite a few tries but once i started to get the hang of it and amass some powerups but i can honestly say it starts to get enjoyable after the first few and if you manage to get enough you can tonnes of fun annihilating everything in your way. Although bosses are still quite difficult no matter what you have which is kind of sad and max speed almost seems overpowered in a bad way since crashing into enemies since you can’t get hit by anything. If you do find it too hard though and want a taste of power its nice to know that you can use the trusty konami code once per playthrough to instantly give you all the good powerups.

Overall its still a very enjoyable game as long as you can give it a little time to get ok at it. Because of this I’d recommend it to anyone except ultra casual players and those with little time.


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