game Cover
game HuCard
©Konami 1985,1991
Release : 1991-11-15 (¥6000)
HuCard (2 Mbits) KM91001
Shooter / Horizontal
Gradius is a horizontal shooter and the PC Engine conversion of Konami's popular arcade game originally released in 1985 (also known as Nemesis in the West). The players takes control of a prototype space fighter called the Vic Viper (aka Vulcan in America) and fights his way through eight deadly and long stages that include countless enemy defenses, giant Moai heads, huge end of level bosses and their weak cores. Some enemies drop Power-Pods when defeated - the most common are red and they increase the choice of weapons available during the game. These power-ups are visible at the bottom of the screen on a power meter and it is up to the player to decide of the weapon that fits the situation the most. This feature is at the core of the gameplay - cruel choices, should the player go for a new floating option or wait a bit more and grab a protective shield ?... The most basic weapons are ground missiles and double shots but they are soon followed by flying options that mimic the current active weapon and by deadly laser beams. Interestingly, this conversion features an extra level and several bonus stages not seen in the arcade game without forgetting a two 'non-simultaneous' player mode.
Gradius (Fc)
Salamander (Fc) Salamander (Pce-Hu)
Gradius II (Fc) Gradius II (Pce-SCDRom²)
Gradius 3 (Sfc)
Non-direct relation : Parodius Da! (Fc) Parodius Da! (Pce-Hu)
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Arcade Game The original arcade game was released by Komami in 1985. It is also known in America as Nemesis (Picture on the left). This game was converted for many systems: Famicom (1986), MSX (1986) (included with Konami Antiques MSX Collection for Sony's Playstation released in 1997), Sharp X68000 (1987), C64 (1987) and so forth... Interestingly a sequel followed in 1987 and was called Gradius 2 (aka Nemesis 2 in the west). This version was only released for the MSX and Sharp X68000 computers. One more game followed for the MSX and was called Gofer No Yabō Episode II (aka Nemesis 3: The Eve of Destruction in the west). Surprisingly the last two MSX games are more spin-offs than sequels. Gradius II - Gofer No Yabō (aka Vulcan Venture) is unrelated to Gradius 2 released for the MSX and is often considered as the chronological sequel to Gradius. Countless conversions followed - Famicom (1988), Sharp X68000 (1992), PC Engine CDRom (1992) and included in Gradius Deluxe Pack (Playstation, 1996). In 1989, Konami released Gradius III which was later converted for the Super Famicom (1991), Sharp X68000 and was part of Gradius IV for Sony's Playstation 2. Gradius IV - Fukkatsu appeared nearly 10 years later in 1998 and was also converted for the Playstation 2 (1999). Other versions, not available in arcades, exist - Nemesis 90 Kai (Sharp X68000), Gradius 1 (GameBoy, 1990), Gradius 2 (GameBoy, 1991), Gradius Deluxe Pack (1996), Gradius Gaiden (Playstation, 1997), Gradius Generation (GameBoyAdvance, 2001) and even a Gradius LCD game (1989). A 3D game was also released in 1997 (Arcade only): Solar Assault Gradius and Solar Assault Revised. And finally, Gradius V was released in 2004 for the Playstation 2 and developed by the shooter lords from Treasure. As a side note, a Wii Ware version of Gradius was released in 2008 and called Gradius Rebirth.

Two other Konami game series are closely related to Gradius. The first one is Salamander (aka Life Force) - the games are clearly set in the same universe and feature similar fighters (see Salamander for more information) . The second one is Parodius which is mainly based on Gradius.

screen shot It is interesting to notice that the hi-score 573000 is often found in Gradius and other Konami games score tables. This is also the case for this PC Engine port. An interesting anecdote suggests that Konami is often represented by the number 573. 5 in Japanese is said "Go", 7 is said "Nana", 3 is said "San" but 3rd is said "Mittsu". If you shorten "Nana" to "Na" and "Mittsu" to "Mi", you end up with something that sounds like "Konami".

Game Staff (Copied from the end credits) :

T. Tokuda
T. Kou
Graphic Designer
T. Miyoshi
H. Morii
M. Suenaga
Sound Designer
H. Muraoka

A. Nagata
Special Thanks To
K. Hashimoto
R. Shogaki
Presented By


Click on picture to enlarge

The usual Konami 'FULL WEAPON' works for this game. Pause the game and press (Up) (Up) (Down) (Down) (Left) (Right) (Left) (Right) (II) (I) and unpause the game

On the title screen, press (Left) (Select), hold (Up) and press (II) three times. press (Run) to start the game. You should now have 30 lives.

Add your Pov here !

Gradius is what gives classic gaming all its meaning and this conversion is a great triumph considering the hardware it's running on. Not that the PC Engine hardware is bad in any ways, on the contrary, but don't forget that we're dealing here with an 8-bit machine and a 2 Mbits HuCard. Everything plays like the arcade and the gameplay is magnificent. Graphics are surprisingly close to the arcade and they only lack the colorful brightness seen in the original game. There are a few animation slowdowns here and there but the gameplay doesn't really suffer much from them. Keep in mind that this was Konami's first game for the PC Engine system and they have done an amazing job with this release. They've also included exclusive stages not found in the arcade! A great PC Engine version that shooter fans definitely shouldn't miss.

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