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Gradius II Stage 1a.png
  • You begin the game in the space pre-stage, where you are attacked by formations of enemy squadrons, along with a few rouge enemy fighters. If you park the Vic Viper in the center of the left side of the screen, both the upper and lower formations that appear from the right side of the screen meet in the middle so you can destroy everything without having to move. You should, however, get out of the way of some of the independent fighters that track down your position. Aim to complete the pre-stage with one Speed Up, one Option, and Missiles.
  • The pre-stage is complete when you begin to approach a giant burning planetoid roughly the height of the screen. You can fly endlessly up or down, so you can easily fly around the planetoid. The bigger threat is the giant flame dragon that flies out of the mass and spits fireballs into space.
Gradius II Stage 1b.png
  • These flame dragons snake around space in lazy circles, shooting fireballs from their mouths which travel in straight directions. Only the head of the dragons is vulnerable, the rest of their bodies take no damage. Concentrate your firepower on the heads until they are destroyed. Alternatively, you can simply dodge them until they float away, but the longer they exist, the more danger they pose, especially if more than one occupies the screen at a time.
  • The fireballs they shoot can be shot and destroyed with your own weaponry. When a fireball is destroyed, every sixth fireball will leave a power-up capsule behind. It can be very tempting to try and shoot down as many fireballs as you can in an effort to increase your power, but do not risk the Vic Viper by allowing a dragon to remain on the screen for too long just to get more fireballs.
Gradius II Stage 1c.png
  • As you proceed, you will encounter some free flying enemies which cross the screen from right to left. Do your best to destroy them or dodge them completely. A minority of these enemies will be the red variety which drop power-up capsules when destroyed. Once the power-up capsules are available, wait until the situation is calm enough to collect them so that you don't put yourself in more danger.
  • The burning planetoids are scattered throughout the stage. You will have to steer the Vic Viper through the safe paths between them. Not all planetoids are the same size, some are smaller than others, but no less deadly to collide with. You may find small enemies occupying the narrow alleys between planetoids. Be extremely careful about moving vertically through this stage. Never travel up or down at full speed since you are likely to run into something before you notice that it's there. Try to move up or down in small increments to give yourself time to react.
Gradius II Stage 1d.png
  • The dragons' movement is determined by the position of the Vic Viper. Since the stage scrolls continuously up and down, a dragon may determine that it's quicker to get to you by traveling down even though you appear to be above it. Beware when you see a dragon veering off in the wrong direction. Traveling in the opposite direction will often result in you encountering the same dragon from the other side.
  • Once you are all the way through the planetoids, you will fly through a brief section of empty space before you finally encounter the stage boss. During this time, several independent flying enemies will cross the screen. Some of these enemies are red and leave power-ups behind, but you may have to venture up or down in order to discover them. Watch the behavior of the other enemies before attempting to realign with the red enemies, especially the fighters who track down your position. Once again, don't move up or down too quickly.
  • Dying in this stage can be extremely problematic, as the first stage is very unforgiving. You'll need to increase your ship's speed as quickly as possible in order to simply be maneuverable enough to survive. From there, play conservatively until you've built your power level back up.

Boss: Phoenix[edit]

Gradius II Boss 1.png

The first boss that you encounter is the Phoenix. Although this giant fire-bird displays a formidable amount of power, it's actually not particularly strong. It starts off its attack by literally warping to some location on the screen. The first time it warps, it always warps to the top of the screen. After the warp completes, it shouts and sends seven blue bolts from its beak. These bolts spread out, and if you're far enough away, you don't have to move very far to avoid the center bolt which travels straight ahead. After these bolts are fired, it sends trios of flame at you, but these flames are easily destroyed by your weapons, so fire constantly. Like the flame dragons, the only vulnerable spot on the boss is its head. Concentrate as much firepower on the head as you can to remove the boss as quickly as possible. With several Options and your Laser weapon activated, it's possible to remove this boss before it warps a third time.