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Year introduced1985

Gradius (グラディウス?) is a series of shooter games developed and published by Konami.


Scramble (1981)
not actually part of the series, but the spiritual successor and clips from it appear in Gradius
Gradius (1985)
Salamander/Life Force (1986)
Set in the same universe as Gradius. The game is noteworthy for a number of reasons. Most prominently, the game switches between horizontal and vertical stages, one of the first games of its kind. Also, Salamander was one of the first shoot'em ups to include cooperative gameplay.
The first player ship is Gradius's own Vic Viper ship, while the second ship is the Lord British space destroyer (sometimes called the "RoadBritish").
Unlike Gradius, Salamander uses a more conventional weapons system, with enemies leaving a wide variety of distinct power-ups. The NES version of Salamander, called Life Force in North America (and marketed in that region as the "sequel" to the first Gradius), and the MSX version used the power meter from the Gradius series. There also exists an arcade game named Life Force that is identical to Salamander released in Japanese arcades the same year, except that a Gradius-style power meter is used instead of conventional power-up items, and the stages were recolored slightly and given some voiceovers to make the mission about travelling inside someone's body, rather than through space; stages took on names such as "Kidney Zone" and "Stomach." An American release was also made, but it retained the original power-up system of Salamander, though it was renamed, rather confusingly, as Life Force.
Gradius 2 (1987)
The MSX Gradius 2 is unrelated to the second arcade Gradius game (which used the Roman numeral "II"). Instead of controlling Vic Viper, the available ship is called "Metalion" (code name N322). Like the MSX version of Salamander, this game also has a storyline, which is told by cut-scenes. The gameplay is mostly unchanged from the rest of the series, though there are some power-ups that temporarily give the ship some enhancements. In addition, when the bosses are defeated, the Metalion can fly inside them before they explode, and a mini-level will start that awards weapon upgrades when finished without dying, depending on the speed at which the boss was defeated. This version was ported to the Sharp X68000 computer under the name Nemesis '90 Kai, with a number of graphical and aural enhancements. The game also appeared in the Japan exclusive PSP Salamander Portable collection.
Gradius II: Gofer no Yabou (1988)
Bearing no relation to the MSX game titled Gradius 2, Gradius II is the sequel to Gradius in terms of chronology. The game was never released in North America in any form, until recently with its inclusion in the PlayStation Portable title Gradius Collection. It was known as Vulcan Venture in Europe.
Gofer no Yabou Episode II (1988)
The fourth game of the series to be released for the MSX platform. "Gofer no Yabō" (GOFERの野望) is the subtitle of Gradius II (the arcade game).
Gradius III (1989)
This title introduced the Weapon Edit method of selecting weapons, which allowed players to create their own weapon array by choosing power-ups from a limited pool of available weapon types (some weapons in the preset weapon types are not selectable in Weapon Edit mode, although it includes weapons not in any presets). The SNES/SFC version is not a very accurate port; levels, enemies, and weapons were altered. For example, two entire stages were cut out in the Super NES version: a 3D stage which involved avoiding hitting cave walls from a unique first-person perspective behind the Vic Viper, and a crystal stage in which the Vic Viper was challenged by crystal blocks blocking off areas like a maze. Also, the order of stages was changed. The final stage in the SNES version was based on an early stage in the arcade version. The original arcade version's ending had the main boss in a mechanical setting, then going through a speed-up zone to escape the enemy base, where the SNES version had the player simply avoiding the final enemy's simple and slow-moving attack patterns with no challenge afterward. However, the SNES version introduced the Rotate and Formation Option types, both of which were reused in Gradius V. The difficulty and major boss tactics were toned down to make it easier. The original arcade version is available for PlayStation 2 bundled with Gradius IV (Gradius III and IV), although the port has some slight differences from the original.
Nemesis (1990)
The first Gradius for a portable system, in this case Nintendo's Game Boy. The name Nemesis was kept for the game's worldwide release. It combined elements from Gradius and Gradius 2 (the MSX versions), as well as some all-new features. It was later remade as one of the four games in the Konami GB Collection Vol. 1 for Game Boy Color entitled "Gradius".
Gradius: The Interstellar Assault (1991)
Another Gradius game exclusively for the Game Boy. It was one of the larger Game Boy carts in existence at the time (2-Megabits), and was completely different from the rest of the series—most of them used music, enemies, bosses and even levels from previous games in the series, but this one did not, except for the boss music from the first Gradius game with the addition of a small original part to the piece. A little bit of the "between levels" music from Gradius III can also be found at the very first part of the game. It was released as Nemesis II in Japan and as Nemesis II: Return of the Hero in Europe.
Salamander 2 (1996)
The follow-up to Salamander. Had several interesting features, such as the Option Shot, the ability to launch the Options as homing projectiles. After firing, an Option would revert to a smaller, less powerful unit called an Option Seed, which revolves around the ship firing the default shot. Weaponry includes Twin Laser, Ripple Laser, and standard Laser. Like its predecessor, Salamander 2 uses a conventional power-up system, rather than the Gradius power meter. Upon acquiring a second power-up of the same type, your weapons are twice as powerful for a short duration (10 seconds). The game features variations of previous Salamander bosses, such as the Golem and Tetran.
Gradius Gaiden (1997)
The first Gradius produced exclusively for a home console. This is also the only Gradius game (other than Gofer no Yabō Episode II on the MSX) where players can select which ship they wish to use. Gradius Gaiden includes the Lord British Space Destroyer from Salamander and two (relative) newcomers: the Jade Knight and the Falchion β (a variation of the ship from the Famicom Disk System game Falsion). It was originally released for the PlayStation console and ported in 2006 as part of Gradius Collection for the PlayStation Portable.
Solar Assault (1997)
Solar Assault is an arcade 3D rail shooter in the lines of Star Fox or Panzer Dragoon, with Gradius's settings. As usual, Vic Viper makes an appearance here, with two other ship choices available: Lord British and Alpina. This game was very obscure and was never ported to any console system.
Gradius IV Fukkatsu (1999)
Released in Japanese arcades as Gradius IV Fukkatsu ("fukkatsu" (復活) being Japanese for "revival", since it was the first arcade Gradius game in 10 years, following 1989's Gradius III). IV lacked the Weapon Edit function of its predecessor, but it had a bigger array of weaponry than the original Gradius games. Weapons exclusive to this game included the Vertical Mine missile (which detonates in a vertical line shortly after deployment) and the Armor Piercing laser (a shorter-ranged, more powerful laser). Released on the PS2 in a compilation pack together with the arcade version of Gradius III (Gradius III and IV).
Gradius Galaxies (2001)
The first Gradius to be created by a development team other than Konami's own internal teams (by Mobile21, to be exact). A Game Boy Advance title, it is known as Gradius Advance in Europe and as Gradius Generation in Japan. The Japanese version, being the last to be released, has a number of exclusive challenge modes added and includes an additional invisible 5000 point bonus in one of the levels.
Gradius V (2004)
Gradius V was released in September 2004 for the PlayStation 2. Graphics are rendered in full 3D, although gameplay is still mostly 2D; some areas change the position and perspective of the camera to emphasize the 3D environment. Treasure (developers of Gunstar Heroes, Guardian Heroes, Radiant Silvergun and Ikaruga, among others) were primarily responsible for Gradius V development. In the Japanese first-press limited edition, the game included a book detailing internal design, background, and a road map of the Vic Viper series (i.e., "Vic Viper" is the name of a ship series, rather than a single ship), and per-ordered North American copies included a DVD detailing the history of the series (including Scramble) and replays of Gradius V.
Gradius NEO (2004)
Released only to mobile phones, it features another storyline, taking place roughly 2000 years after the last Nemesis.
Gradius Collection (2006)
A Gradius compilation for PlayStation Portable. This compilation contains the classic versions of Gradius I-IV with a few bonus features thrown in as well as the first North American release of Gradius Gaiden.
Gradius ReBirth (2008)
A Gradius title for WiiWare. It draws many elements from the MSX games and could be considered a heavy remake of those games.
Gradius Arc (2010)
In March 2010, a Japanese trademark database update revealed a filing for this name, submitted by Konami.[1] The "Arc" portion of the name coincided with a pre-release name of the PlayStation Move. This was only coincidence, however, as Gradius Arc —Ginyoku no Densetsu— (Gradius Arc —Legend of the Silvery Wings—) was revealed on September 30, 2010, to be a tactical RPG for cell phones.[2]


  1. Yip, Spencer. Gradius Arc? Color Us Curious, Konami. Retrieved on 2010-06-04.
  2. Ishida, Katsuo. KONAMI、モバイル「グラディウス・アーク」サービス開始. GAME Watch. Retrieved on 2010-10-13.