Gradius is an horizontal shooter by Konami and conversion of the classic arcade game of the same name originally released in 1985. The planet Gradius is under attack and the Vic Viper space-fighter (called the Warp Rattler in the American version) is the last line of defense against the oncoming alien invasion. The player has to battle waves of enemy ships, odd entities and erupting volcanoes until he eventually reaches and "destroys" the Xaerous Brain. Red enemies and special ship formations occasionally drop capsules when defeated - a power menu at the bottom of the screen shows the currently available power-up and collecting more capsules allows the player to move onto different weapon and ship upgrades. The most basic one speeds up the Vic Viper whereas others equip ground missiles, lasers, options or a force field barrier. Blue capsules also appear from time to time and destroy all the enemies on the screen at once. Most of the seven stages have a small boss battle and a second fight against a large big-core ship. These ships are invincible until their blue center core opens up and turns red. However tiny destructible blocks protect the core's entryway and must all be destroyed in order to hurt them. Interestingly, the player can skip a whole stage by destroying a big-core ship fast enough! The game also features a 2-player alternating mode.
Cartridge ID: RC810
Gradius for Famicom was released on April 25, 1986 in Japan for 4900 Yen.
Because of obvious technical limitations, the Famicom version shows major differences with the original arcade game. Konami gladly sacrificed some of the game's original features as long as the gameplay was unaffected (which is perfectly fair). First of all the size of the big-core ships has been considerably reduced. Then the Vic Viper can only carry two options at the same time whereas the arcade allowed four. Finally, the stages that could scroll up and down (such as the Stone Hedge and Moai levels) are locked and the 'frame-looking' enemy before the final boss was omitted.
Kazuhisa Hashimoto, who programmed this Nintendo Famicom port, found the original arcade game too hard, so he inserted the so-called Konami code (see Tips & Tricks section).