Video Game Review: Gradius (NES)

After revisiting Lifeforce, I thought that I’d also revisit the game that came before it, the original Gradius.

While this and Lifeforce look and play similarly, this game suffers from a few things that its first sequel fixed.

For one, when you die, you respawn at a checkpoint you’ve previously passed, as opposed to right where you croaked. This makes you burn through lives a lot quicker and if there is that one spot or sequence that keeps kicking your ass, you have to do the whole thing over again… again and again. It just becomes tedious where in Lifeforce you can still progress in spite of your faults, as long as you still have lives to spare.

Secondly, the game feels less structured in a bad way. In Lifeforce, it was clear that you progressed to a new level after a boss battle and a change in how the screen scrolls, whether horizontally or vertically. In Gradius, everything is side scrolling and there aren’t real ends to levels, you just sort of fly into them, making the whole game feel like one long, endless stage.

Plus, the boss battles here are all weak and uninspiring and they’re also pretty repetitive.

Gradius isn’t a total letdown. However, if you’ve never played this or Lifeforce, you should start with this. If you do it the other way around, this one will feel like a frustrating disappointment.

Rating: 6.5/10
Pairs well with: other games in the Gradius series, as well as other 8-bit Konami action shooters.