30 Years of Video Games – Gradius (1986)

I’m waving goodbye to my 20′s and to celebrate I’m counting down 30 games from the last 30 years.  Join me while I countdown 30 great years of game memories.


I have a level of respect and fascination of Cave shooters that goes beyond just enjoying the act of playing them.  That admittedly waning fascination was kickstarted by early stalwarts of the genre, Konami’s Gradius and Irem’s R-Type.  While these two games don’t come close to Cave’s offerings in terms of sheer insanity and difficulty level, they can be given credit for effectively kickstarting the japanese side of the industry’s fascination with the genre.  That’s not to say they’re not hard, R-Type is particular can be brutal in places.  Of the two japanese horizontal scrolling shooters that dominated the genre in the early years of consoles though, Gradius is my pick, if only because the Vic Viper is one of the sleakest ship designs ever to grace a video game.

Gradius proved to be one of Konami’s most popular franchise and by the end of the 80’s there were three games in the series.  The last Gradius game, Gradius IV, was released in arcades in 1999 and the PS2 at its launch.  While later games in the series added more depth to the game’s core weapon upgrade system the streamlined simplicity of the original’s weapon system is timeless.

If you’ve never played Gradius it holds up incredibly well by today’s standards and if you have the resilience and determination to fight against the game’s difficulty it is absolutely worth finding a way to play it.  It was originally released in arcades under the name Nemesis and made its way to various home systems in following years. The Gradius Collection was released for Playstation Portable in 2006 and is probably your best bet if you’re looking to play it.


Have a favourite game from 1986?  Tell us in the comments below.  Don’t forget to come back soon for the next game in our countdown.  Miss a year?  Catch up below.

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