Gradius Galaxies, produced by Konami Entertainment of America, is the first 2D side-scrolling shooter to be released on the Nintendo Game Boy Advance System. Gradius has already debuted on systems such as Nintendo, Game Boy, Playstation, Playstation 2, and arcade cabinets worldwide, creating a huge audience for shoot’em up type games.
In Game Graphics
Giving the Game Boy Advance graphic chip a run for its money, Gradius Galaxies is one of the most incredible games produced to date. The graphics of this 2D side-scrolling shooter rival the graphics used for the same type of game on other systems. First an explanation of how the game graphics work. You have the Vic Viper (the ship you pilot) traveling forward from left to right against a scrolling background with small ships and other enemies trying to shoot you down with bullets. The backgrounds are multi layered with stars, stills of galaxies, and other obstacles such as asteroids and sun flares. The backgrounds and the lighting effects make this the best looking Gradius title to date.
The music is absolutely amazing for such a tiny handheld game. Pop some headphones on and you can hear a newly composed soundtrack of “Gradius” type music. The soundtrack follows the history of Gradius games in theme and melody. The most awesome part of the audio stems from the fact there are in game voices... Yes!!! Digitized voices fill the game, from the announcer calling out “Start !!!” at the beginning of each round, to the calling out of names of power-ups that you decide on like “Missiles!”, to “Options!”. It even tells you what to do at the end of each level when you fight the boss, such as “Shoot the Core!”
Okay, it’s a 2D side-scrolling shooter, what more is there to explain? Well I can answer that question for you. There’s a lot more to this game then just a side scroller. You start with a ship that travels from left to right shooting enemies that come at you from in front and behind. This game follows the same rules and features of the classic Gradius games in which you can select the type of power-ups through “upgrading” your ship when you pick up enough power crystals. The best part of the power-ups is the fact you can decide on how your ship upgrades right at the beginning of the game. Depending on what you pick, all ships come with “options”, a small orb that follows you and mirrors what you do, following your main ship one second behind, and a choice of what type of shielding you like. But what is different from each of the four paths you can pick on upgrading your ship, you have a different choice of the type of ground attacking weapon and twp types of primary weapons from ripple lasers, lasers, dual lasers, to thrust attacks. The possibilities are endless when you mix and match how you want to play the game. Other features of Gradius Galaxies include a hint mode where the computer shows you the best optimal way of finishing a segment of the game. You can also continue from any point of the game that you have already cleared. This continue feature is very well designed since each stage is divided into around 5 – 7 segments. This feature alone makes it possible to practice specific parts of a stage to become the ultimate pilot. But there is one part of the game that I feel is lacking. The controls are a little bit too sensitive so it becomes quite impossible to steer through tight spaces when you have over-upgraded on speed. Otherwise I have to say this has been one of the best purchases for my Game Boy Advance system.
This game has such a high replay value that it’s worth so much more than the SRP on the package. You can choose from different upgrades, which makes each session a “new experience” with new strategies to conquer. The game also has a backward mode after you beat it in which you can play the entire game backwards from end to beginning. If you need to choose a game for a long road trip, Gradius Galaxies will surely fit the bill.
Konami has been setting the benchmark in new and innovative games such as Dance Dance Revolution to Para Para Max. With Gradius Galaxies, they have set the benchmark for 2D side scrolling games to come. Together we shall look forward to the awesome titles that they have to bring us in the future.