Gradius for Nes is one of the First Shooters I Ever Played.
Shooters are a genre I’m actually quite good at, which helps seeing as they are some of my favorites. I first remember playing Gradius probably around 5 years old and being absolutely terrible at it. It was actually so difficult that it actually put me off the genre until around the late 90s. (Which is odd because I absolutely love Megaman and in my opinion that’s more difficult). It wasn’t until I played Einhander on a Playstation 1 demo disc that I became interested again. I picked up Gradius probably in 2002 or so and I definitely had a different experience this time. Being older definitely made the challenge much more bearable and interesting.
The setting is relatively simple, you are a spaceship and you shoot your way through the stages until the end. Im sure there is an actual story somewhere, but nowhere in the actual game does it mention it, plus its unnecessary. The controls are simple as well, B shoots, and A selects your power ups. Basically either by defeating red enemies or a chain of enemies a red power up icon will be dropped. There is a bar at the bottom of the screen and every red powerup you grab the indicator moves forward 1 until you accept a powerup with the B button. For example if you collect 5 powerups and then hit A you will get the Option, which is a satellite that hovers around your ship and shoots when you press B. The next powerup will start the bar over at speed up. It is worth noting the last space on the bar is marked by question marks, and is a protective shield. Best Idea here is to keep that shield up at all times, because otherwise 1 hit kills. You do not want to be killed, because you will lose all of your powerups. The powerups in Gradius really are what keep you alive and you pretty much do not stand a chance without them.
Unfortunately the game is a very early NES game and suffers from slowdown when there is too much on screen. This does also can be both a blessing and a curse. It can be irritating because everything slows to a crawl, but then immediately goes back to full speed when the the screen is cleared. This can catch you off guard and cause a mistake. This slowdown can be good however because it gives you more time to see whats going on and react.
The game does suffer from from some short comings and granted it was done better by later games in the series, but it is definitely worth a play. ( a collection is available for PSP if you wanted to check a few of them out.) For an early game you definitely have to give it credit. Id have to give it a 6/10