GAME REVIEWS

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Gradius

~ GRADIUS ~
Konami
HuCard
1991

Let's start by taking a quick look at what this "famous" blaster delivers. It's a moderately challenging affair, and it boasts a few interesting tunes. Not exactly the stuff of legends there, but this story only gets worse: dinky weaponry; small, unimpressive enemies; lots of slowdown; and boring space-themed levels make this an outdated, geriatric shooter, a wash-up through and through. Timeless, this is not.



Ah, but the boss designs save the title, don't they? Who could ever forget their first encounter with the "shoot the core" ship, a video-game hall of famer for sure?



And then there's this mighty behemoth...



...and this remarkable titan...



All right, enough. I don't care what year the game was originally released in. This soft-stomached bum wasn't much fun to fight in the first place, and he sure as hell isn't fun to fight now--never mind that you have to fight him multiple times each trip. The fool had already been relegated to a Blades of Steel intermission sideshow act by the time the eighties were through--who the fuck wants anything to do with him now?

Konami did eventually realize they needed to shake the boss fights up a bit...



...but this is just a matter of too little, too late. It's kind of funny that the final boss is an intentional "joke" (an eventual "staple" concept of the series)...



...in that the "many" bosses that precede it are complete jokes anyway.

It doesn't matter to me that Gradius was a "landmark" shooter. Whatever was "special" about it back in the day has lost its sheen, leaving behind something decrepit, uninteresting, and deserving of whatever mockery is hurled its way.

That certainly isn't the case with all old shooters. Check out R-Type for a classic that has actually remained respectable over the years; hell, some stretches of R-T still come off as examples of ingenious stage design. Returning to the Konami catalog, both Parodius and Salamander completely murder Grandpa Gradius; and while the game's own direct sequel (which was released as a PCE Super CD) is hardly wonderful itself, it leaves its forerunner in the dust as far as stage concepts and boss designs go. What with the existence of these superior alternatives (and the many others that are out there), this old-timer is hardly even worth playing anymore.


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