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  • The fourth stage of Gradius II pays homage to its predecessor, not just by having a volcano stage, but by placing it on the same stage as the original Gradius. As such, Gradius veterans know exactly what to expect here: lots and lots of enemy forces trying to shoot you down, and run you into the terrain. If you chose the A or C types of power meters, you may very well opt for the Double cannon on this stage, as there will be plenty of targets above you.
  • One distinct difference contained in this stage from earlier volcano stages are the elevated plateaus that appear from time to time, balanced atop a rocky column. You must pay special attention to the layout of the terrain this time so as not to get caught in a dead-end. In the beginning of the stage, they are small and easy to spot, but as you go farther, they become a little more deceptive, waiting a while longer to reveal the correct path.
  • After you've been in the stage for a while, you will be forced down into a lower channel. This channel is particularly dangerous for a number of reasons. Cannons line the terrain and rain bullets at you. Duckers appear from the left side of the screen and approach to take shots at you. Take a position near the left side of the screen that allows you to shoot the enemies hanging from the plateau, but also allows you to bomb enemies below with Missiles.
  • Shortly after you pass through this channel, you will need to pass through the opening to enter the upper half of the screen, but there's a hatch directly above that releases enemies down through the opening. You must either bravely enter the opening quickly before the enemies appear, or wait for them to finish. But if you wait, the screen may be so flooded with enemies and bullets, you'll have a hard time proceeding.
The Option Hunter
Although it's not guaranteed to show up at this time, it is very likely that if you have had four Options activated for a long time, the Option Hunter will appear. Unlike most enemies, Option Hunters are not scripted to appear at particular points within a stage. Rather, they show up after a period of time has passed, regardless of where you happen to be (with a few exceptions.)

It shows up on the left side of the screen, and a siren will announce its arrival. It will hang back to the left for a number of seconds, tracking your vertical movement, before rushing straight forward to the right in an effort to capture one or more of your Options. If it manages to collide with any of them, it will remove them from your ship and fly away with them. Once it does that, move quickly out of its way in an effort to lure the Options out of its way. However, be mindful of the terrain and any enemies. Note that the Vic Viper can safely collide with the Option Hunter.
  • When you reach the mid-point, the terrain will turn red, and a volcano will appear along the top terrain. It will begin spewing a massive amount of boulders. Gravity for all these boulders is directed up to the top of the screen. You'll want to focus as much firepower just below the mouth of the volcano in order to shoot down as many boulders as possible. You must also watch out for Duckers who appear on the bottom and fire up at you. Use Missiles to remove them.
  • As you continue along, you'll be forced to fly above a plateau. Watch out for the enemies that appear from the hatch above as you continue to fly toward a second ceiling volcano. Once again, hang back to the left and fire as much as possible at the mouth until the boulders stop appearing. Once it does, you can fly forward and begin to attack the cannons that line the bottom of the screen. However, be prepared to fly up to the top in order to advance.
  • Fly up and over the terrain the divides the screen. The next section of the stage is fairly wide open. Cannons, hatches, and Duckers will appear on both the top and the bottom of the screen. Do your best to bomb the bottom with your Missiles, and use your other weapons to take out the enemies along the top.
  • The last challenge of the stage includes a plateau that hangs from the top of the screen. As you are forced to enter the lower half of the screen, bouncing enemies will appear from the left side of the screen. These enemies spray the screen with bullets, so destroy them as quickly as possible. Additionally, a set of hatches will line the plateau, and you should aim to destroy them quickly as well, before they fill the screen with enemies. There is a line of cannons along the top of the screen which can be extremely difficult to get far enough to the left to cleanly destroy, so you may opt to hide below the terrain and use it as a shield until you can advance between the twin (inactive) volcanoes, and advance to the boss.

Boss: Death Mk-II[edit]

Adding to the link between this game and Salamander, the boss of this stage is an upgraded version of Death. The first version of Death was a bit of a pushover, but that's not the case any longer. Like the original, this version of Death has two attack phases, but the phase have been substantially altered. This Death's first phase is to open its front shield and launch five indestructible missiles at you. The Vic Viper is safest if you steer through the gap between the first and second missiles, or the fourth and fifth missiles. The gaps between the center missiles are too small and risky. Death is only vulnerable when the shield is open and its about to fire. Once you punch through it and expose the core, the missiles stop and Death begins its second phase. Death will fly up or down until it stops and fires a gigantic laser before resuming its attack. You have no choice but to move out of its way in order to avoid the laser. Once the laser ends, continue your attack on the exposed core until Death stops flying again and fires another laser.