Review: Gradius – The Interstellar Assault (GameBoy)

By Drew Wilson

Gradius – The Interstellar Assault is a sidescrolling space shooting action game. It has been cited for being an inspirational series and is a series that has continued to this day. We look at one of the earlier iteration of the series released on the GameBoy.

The game was released in 1992 and also goes by the name “Nemesis 2 – The Return of the Hero”. The Gradius series is one of the more well known side scrolling bullet-hell shooter games that has such a long legacy.

The game starts off with allowing you to select a type of missile you’ll want to employ when you get that weapon (I personally chose the 2-way missile). You are then greeted with two ships that appear to accompany you through space. Suddenly, the larger ships are attacked and destroyed, only allowing enough time for you to escape.

The first level is of a larger enemy ship chasing you through an asteroid field, ending in the enemy ship crashing into a hole only large enough for your smaller ship to escape through. After that, the game more or less opens up to show you what you can do to survive each level.

You can collect various power-ups. Each power-up toggles what you can get over one in the option bar below. When it highlights the option you want, you can select that option and you are awarded what you earned. You can speed up your space craft, get an “option” which is a light that follows your ship around to increase firepower, a missile that follows the ceiling and floor, destroying an enemy if it comes into contact with one, a forcefield to allow you to take more than one hit by an enemy shot before being destroyed, and a laser weapon should you choose that to name several. Another kind of power-up you can get is a sort of “smart bomb” where if you collect it, all enemies on the screen are destroyed. Great if you can collect it just as things start getting out of hand.

The game features a vast number of enemies including flying space worms, enemy troops, turrets and most things I can’t even really identify easily. This ensures that the game remains fresh as you play through it. The game is also challenging. One wrong move and you lose one of three ships you are given at the beginning.

You can also get a sense of storyline as you progress through the game even though you don’t even get hardly any text whatsoever throughout gameplay. It just keeps you rolling through different kinds of action scenes.

The games graphics are quite impressive considering what platform it is on. You almost forget that you are playing a game that’s effectively in black and white because of the use of the various shades of grey and well done art.

The music is also quite impressive. Despite the limitations of the platform, you can really get an array of different kinds of music whether it’s fast paced and frantic or mysterious and slow. The sound effects are also spot on and really gives the gameplay an exciting edge to it. If you really want to just get a sense of the game’s audio, you can explore the music through the games built-in jukebox in the options menu.

Overall, my only complaint is that this game is somewhat short if you get good at it. It’s effectively only four levels (though it’s worth pointing out that most levels have multiple parts to each). If you happen to be really good at these games and don’t hardly die at all, you can blow through the game in about a half an hour or so. Otherwise, there really is little to complain about in this game.

Furthest point in game: Beaten the game two or three times.

General gameplay: 22/25
Replay value: 7/10
Graphics: 10/10
Audio: 5/5

Overall rating: 90%

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85

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