game Cover
game HuCard
©Konami 1985,1991
Release : 1991-11-15 (¥6000)
HuCard (2 Mbits) KM91001
Shooter / Horizontal
Gradius is a horizontal shooter and the PC Engine conversion of Konami's popular arcade game originally released in 1985 (also known as Nemesis in the West). The players takes control of a prototype space fighter called the Vic Viper (aka Vulcan in America) and fights his way through eight deadly and long stages that include countless enemy defences, giant Moai heads, huge end of level bosses and their now legendary weak cores. Some enemies drop Power-Pods when defeated - the most commons are red and they increase the choice of weapons available during the game. These power-ups are visible at the bottom of the screen on a power meter and it is up to the player to determine which weapon fits the situation best. This feature is at the core of the gameplay - cruel choices, should the player go for a new floating option or wait a little bit more and activate a protective shield... The most basic weapons are ground missiles and double shots but they are soon followed by flying options that mimic the active weapon, and by deadly laser beams. Interestingly, this conversion features an exclusive level and several hidden bonus stages not seen in the arcade game (see the secrets section on this page) without forgetting a two 'non-simultaneous' player mode.
Gradius (Fc)
Salamander (Fc) Salamander (Pce-Hu)
Gradius II (Fc) Gradius II (Pce-SCDRom²)
Gradius 3 (Sfc)
Non-direct relation : Parodius Da! (Fc) Parodius Da! (Pce-Hu)
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Arcade Game The original arcade game was released by Komami in 1985 (picture on the right), and it is also known in the rest of the world as Nemesis. The popular shooter was converted for countless home systems: Famicom (1986), MSX (1986) (included with Konami Antiques MSX Collection for Sony's Playstation released in 1997), Sharp X68000 (1987), C64 (1987) and so forth... Interestingly a sequel followed in 1987 and was called Gradius 2 (aka Nemesis 2 in the west). This version was only released for the MSX and Sharp X68000 computers. One more game followed for the MSX and was called Gofer No Yabō Episode II (aka Nemesis 3: The Eve of Destruction in the west). Surprisingly the last two MSX games are more spin-offs than sequels. The arcade game Gradius II - Gofer No Yabō (aka Vulcan Venture) is unrelated to the MSX Gradius 2 and is often considered as the real chronological sequel to Gradius. Countless conversions followed - Famicom (1988), Sharp X68000 (1992), PC Engine CDRom (1992) and the game was included in Gradius Deluxe Pack (Playstation, 1996). In 1989, Konami released Gradius III which was later converted for the Super Famicom (1991), Sharp X68000 and was part of Gradius IV for Sony's Playstation 2. Gradius IV - Fukkatsu appeared nearly 10 years later in 1998 and was also converted for the Playstation 2 (1999). Other versions, not available in arcades, exist - Nemesis 90 Kai (Sharp X68000), Gradius 1 (Game Boy, 1990), Gradius 2 (Game Boy, 1991), Gradius Deluxe Pack (1996), Gradius Gaiden (Playstation, 1997), Gradius Generation (Game Boy Advance, 2001) and even a Gradius LCD game (1989). A 3D game called Solar Assault Gradius and Solar Assault Revised was also released in 1997 (Arcade only). Finally, the excellent Gradius V was released in 2004 for the Playstation 2 and developed by the shooter lords from Treasure. As a side note, a Wii Ware version of Gradius was released in 2008 and called Gradius Rebirth.

Gradius - PC Engine exclusive level This PC Engine conversion of Gradius is incredibly faithful to the original arcade game. In the Konami tradition at the time, the developer even included an exclusive fifth "wasteland" stage, filled with giant fossils, lethal flying bones and skeleton heads that fire blue fireballs at the player. Interestingly, this exclusive stage was revived and included in Gradius Rebirth released for the Wii Ware platform in 2008. The PC Engine port tested here also features bonus stages hidden within the levels (see the secrets section below for more information).

Two other Konami game series are closely related to Gradius. The first one is Salamander (aka Life Force) - the games are clearly set in the same universe and feature similar fighters (see Salamander for more information) . The second one is Parodius which is mainly based on Gradius.

screen shot It is interesting to notice that the hi-score 573000 is often found in Gradius and other Konami games score tables. This is also the case for this PC Engine port. An interesting anecdote suggests that Konami is often represented by the number 573. 5 in Japanese is said "Go", 7 is said "Nana", 3 is said "San" but 3rd is said "Mittsu". If you shorten "Nana" to "Na" and "Mittsu" to "Mi", you end up with something that sounds like "Konami".

Game Staff (Copied from the end credits) :

T. Tokuda
T. Kou
Graphic Designer
T. Miyoshi
H. Morii
M. Suenaga
Sound Designer
H. Muraoka

A. Nagata
Special Thanks To
K. Hashimoto
R. Shogaki
Presented By


Gradius - manual Gradius - Sodipeng manual
Click on picture to enlarge

Full power:
The traditional Konami 'FULL WEAPON' cheat works for this game. Pause the game and press Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right, II, I and unpause the game. You should now be fully powered-up.

30 lives:
On the title screen, press Left, Select, hold Up and press II three times. press Run to start the game. You should now have 30 lives.

Bonus Stages:
This conversion of Gradius has numerous hidden bonus stages. Here are some of them but my guess is that more do exist! Each bonus level is loaded with extra points and lives (and other miscellaneous and unique power-ups, like the ability to stop the scrolling!). They also allow you to warp to the next stage! These are really difficult to unlock because they require nearly pixel-perfect manoeuvres, and some require some conditions to unlock...

Gradius - bonus stage Stage 2 bonus stage:
Near the end of the level, enter the tiny space as shown on the picture on the right.

Gradius - bonus stage Stage 3 first bonus stage:
Near the middle of the level, you will find a group of four Moai heads. Enter the tiny space between the heads below the platform as shown on the picture on the right.

Gradius - bonus stage Stage 3 second bonus stage:
At the exact same location, you can enter the tiny space between the heads on top of the platform as shown on the picture on the right.

Gradius - bonus stage Stage 5 bonus stage:
This one is really tricky to unlock. Fly below the platform at the end of the stage but make sure you have no item highlighted on your power bar.

Add your Pov here !

Gradius is what gives classic gaming all its meaning and this conversion is a great triumph considering the hardware it's running on. Not that the PC Engine hardware is bad in any ways, on the contrary, but don't forget that we're dealing here with an 8-bit machine and a 2 Mbits HuCard. Everything plays like the arcade game and the gameplay is simply magnificent. Graphics are surprisingly close to the arcade and they only lack the colorful brightness seen in the original game and look a lot darker overall for unknown reasons. There are a few animation slowdowns here and there (especially when the Vic Viper is fully powered up) but the gameplay doesn't really suffer too much from them. Keep in mind that this was Konami's first game for the PC Engine system and they did an amazing job with this release. They've also included an exclusive stage not found in the arcade! A great PC Engine conversion that shooter fans definitely shouldn't miss.

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