Gradius [Model GX400]

The Arcade PCB by Konami Industry Co., Ltd.

Gradius [Model GX400] screenshot

Emulated in MAME !



Gradius © 1985 Konami.

A superb and demanding shoot'em up that shares - along with Irem's "R*Type" - the distinction of being a true innovator of its genre and, again like R*Type, completely revolutionized the humble shoot-em-up.

Gradius' eye-catching graphics guaranteed gamer interest but it was the game's genius 'weapon upgrade' system that really made the difference. Never before could players actually CHOSE how to upgrade their ship. Destroying waves of enemies would often see the player reward with an 'orb' that could be picked up. The player could collect up to 6 orbs and could effectively 'buy' an upgrade from the 6 displayed at the bottom of the play area (speed-up, bombs, double, laser, multiple - which are orbs that follow the player's movements and add greater firepower - and a mystery 6th upgrade that is marked with an '?'). Game difficulty increases depending on how many power-ups the player has, so it is sometimes advantageous to NOT power-up your ship too much.


Konami Bubble System.
Game ID : GX400

Main CPU : MC 68000 @ 10Mhz / G400 BIOS
Sound CPU : Zilog Z80
Sound chip : 2 x AY-3-8910 psg

Players : 2
Control : 8-way joystick
Buttons : 3


Gradius was released in May 1985.

This game is known in Europe as "Nemesis".

First shoot-em-up with serious power-ups.

Designers did a lot of tries before they fixed the design of the ship. They did at least 100 different versions. And among all of them, there was a ship that leaved a light trace behind him when he moves. It was from an evolution of this concept that was born the 'Options system'.

Soundtrack releases:
japan [Cassette] (Nov.21, 1987) Original Sound of Gradius & Salamander [Battle Music Collection]
japan [Audio CD] (Nov.21, 1987) Original Sound of Gradius & Salamander [Battle Music Collection]
Alfa Records released a limited-edition soundtrack album for this game (Konami Game Music Vol.1 - 28XA-85) on June 27, 1986.
Apollon Music released a limited-edition soundtrack album for this game (Original Sound of Gradius - KHY1016) in cassette format on May 5, 1987. Also released the soundtrack album in CD format (Original Sound of Gradius - BY12-5021) on November 21, 1988.

Interesting note : Several Konami arcade games ("Gradius", "Parodius Da! - Shinwa kara Owarai e", "Salamander", etc...) have the default high score set at 57300. '573' refers to Go-Na-Mi kana letters, a play of word for 'Konami'.

Bandai released a board game (in Japan only) based on this video game (same name) in 1986 : The board is split into 8 sections, each with its own rules. The things that remain the same are that each uses a square-grid for movement, and you can power up your ship by getting the capsules.

The first level of Gradius is available as a mini-game in the Nintendo Super NES game "Legend of the Mystical Ninja".

In the Nintendo NES hockey game Blades of Steel, one of the intermission screens is a playable sequence which recreates the fight against the first Gradius boss.

The popular trading card game 'Yu-Gi-Oh!' has drawn inspiration for some of its cards from the game, which are Gradius, Cyclon Laser, Gradius' Option, Victory Viper XX03, and Power Capsule. Other cards include enemies and boss characters such as Solar Flare Dragon,The Statue of Easter Island, Moai Interceptor Cannons, B.E.S. Covered Core, Big Core, B.E.S. Tetran, and B.E.S. Crystal Core, as well as the spell card Boss Rush.

Konami's music simulation game "Pop'n Music" features the song 'Gradius Full-Speed' which is a mix of the music in the first level of Gradius. This song is also featured in "beatmania IIDX".

There's an unlockable 3-D remake of the original Gradius arcade game found in "Zone of the Enders - The 2nd Runner". It's called Zoradius (for Zone + Gradius). It can be found in the battle against Vic Viper, or by replaying the fight as an Extra mission, then pausing the game an entering a variation of the Konami Code. In Zoradius, the player uses the Vic Viper in fighter mode, flying through a tunnel and shooting down various non-humanoid enemies from the game to gather powerups to increase the Viper's firepower and shields.


• Weapons
1) Speed Up: Alters your ship's speed. Up to 5 levels, 2 is the recommended dose.
2) Missile: Falls to the ground, then slides along it until it hits something.
3) Double: Fires a bullet at 45 degrees up as well as forward.
4) Laser: Replaces your bullets with a blue beam.
5) Multiple: Orange blobs that follow you around, they have whatever weapons your ship has. You can have up to 4. Possibly the best power-up ever.
6) ?: Force field, 2 blob-things that attach to the nose of your craft.

• Plan your power ups well : When starting/restarting the game, the regular shot being your only method of attack could be very tough. But that doesn't mean increasing your firepower by equipping MULTIPLE very first is good because you cannot move around quickly. You will end up being hit. Therefore, first power up your speed once or twice so you can move faster.

• DOUBLE and its problems : With DOUBLE, you can shoot in front of you and diagonally. However, since you cannot fire rapidly, it is not a weapon easy to use. Equip at least 2 MULTIPLE before equipping DOUBLE.

• Make good use of the LASER : Hitting enemies above and below you with the LASER is rather easy. You don't have to go for a direct hit. Make it fly near the enemy for a slight touch.

• MISSILE movement : The MISSILE moves along the ground. If there is something sticking out of the ground, the MISSILE stops there. Keep an eye on the landscape.

• Take control of the MULTIPLE : The MULTIPLE follow the path of VIC VIPER. Take advantage of this feature and attack enemies that VIC VIPER cannot reach. Use formations to wipe out th enemy!
Also, the faster VIC VIPER is, the more widely spread the MULTIPLE are from each other. Take advantage of this feature as well.

• Renewing the BARRIER : The BARRIER wears out not only by making contact with the enemy and enemy shots. It does so by touching the landscape. Make use of this trait and make the BARRIER touch enemies or the landscape to wear it down and get rid of it. Then equip a new BARRIER.

• Come up with a conquering pattern : This game is a shooter that gives you a lot of freedom in terms of how you can conquer levels. Learn the tips, remember the appearance patterns of the enemy, and come up with your own way of conquering the game.


1. Gradius [Model GX400] (1985)
2. Salamander [Model GX587] (1986)
3. Gradius II - GOFER no Yabou [Model GX785] (1988)
4. Gradius III - Densetsu Kara Shinwa-e [Model GX945] (1989)
5. Nemesis '90 Kai (1993, Sharp X68000)
6. Salamander 2 (1996)
7. Solar Assault - Gradius (1997)
8. Solar Assault - Revised (1997)
9. Gradius Gaiden (1997, Sony PlayStation)
10. Gradius IV - Fukkatsu (1998)
11. Gradius Generation (2001, Nintendo Game Boy Advance)
12. Gradius V (2004, Sony PlayStation 2)
13. Gradius Neo (2004, NTT DoCoMo i-mode Phones)
14. Gradius Neo Imperial (2005, NTT DoCoMo i-mode Phones)
15. Gradius Wide (2007, NTT DoCoMo i-mode Phones)
16. Gradius Rebirth (2008, Nintendo Wii)


Music by : Miki Higashino



Nintendo Famicom japan (apr.26, 1986) "Gradius [Model RC810]"
Nintendo NES usa (dec.1986) "Gradius [Model NES-GR-USA]"
NEC PC-Engine japan (nov.15, 1991) "Gradius [Model KM91001]"
Sega Saturn japan (mar.29, 1996) "Gradius Deluxe Pack [Model T-9509G]"
Sony PlayStation japan (mar.29, 1996) "Gradius Deluxe Pack [Model SLPS-00303]"
Sony PlayStation 4 [PSN] japan (jan.29, 2015) "Arcade Archives - Gradius [Model CUSA-01793]"
Sony PlayStation 4 [PSN] [AS] (may.21, 2015) "Arcade Archives - Gradius"
Sony PlayStation 4 [PSN] usa (june.9, 2015) "Arcade Archives - Gradius [Model CUSA-02307]"
Sony PlayStation 4 [PSN] australia (june.23, 2015) "Arcade Archives - Gradius [Model CUSA-02484]"


Nintendo Game Boy japan (feb.23, 1990) "Nemesis [Model DMG-NMA]"
Nintendo Game Boy usa (apr.1990) "Nemesis [Model DMG-NM-USA]"
Sony PSP japan (feb.9, 2006) "Gradius Portable [Model ULJM-05091]"
Sony PSP japan (jan.25, 2007) "Gradius Portable [Konami The Best] [Model ULJM-05222]"
Nintendo DS japan (mar.15, 2007) "Konami Arcade Collection [Model NTR-A5KJ-JPN]"
Nintendo DS usa (mar.27, 2007) "Konami Classic Series - Arcade Hits [Model NTR-ACXE-USA]"


MSX japan (jul.25, 1986) "Gradius [Model RC742]"
Sharp X1 japan (1986)
Sharp X68000 japan (mar.28, 1987)
Commodore C64 usa (1987)
NEC PC 8801 japan (1986)
PC [MS Windows] japan (feb.21, 1997) "Gradius Deluxe Pack [Model ME203-J1]"


LCD handheld game (1989) by Konami.
Mobile Phones usa (jul.1, 2004)

Game's ROM.
Game's screenshots.

Page last modified on September 23, 2016