Gradius 3 & 4
If you started playing video games after the days of the Super NES, you won't recognize the name Gradius. But back in the day it was considered one of the most addictive (if knuckle-bitingly difficult) shooter series around. Konami's Gradius and Parodius series are perhaps my favorite games in the shooter genre. This one PS2 title has perfectly emulated versions of the latest two arcade installments of the series (including slowdown). I'm not gonna say that the slowdown is bad-because it got me out of some sticky situations more than once. Gameplay is very straightforward --blast enemies through a constantly scrolling level (of varying speed), facing a boss at the end. Memorizing enemy attack patterns and finding the path of least resistance is the key. Of course, that's easier said than done when you accidentally die after being fully powered-up and have to get by on only your standard guns. Gradius IV adds 3D graphics to the equation, but thankfully remains locked to the series' side-scrolling view. The graphics in both games are old, but with some two-dimensional "wow" factor. But that awed stare quickly turns into a look of "oh crap!" as you realize that cool-looking plant just grabbed and destroyed your ship. My only question is why didn't Konami include Gradius I and II in the U.S. release of this package? It's the only thing holding this back from being the ultimate shooter collection.
I always liked the Gradius games--the different power-up options and shields offer a great amount of technique, and like all the best shooters, with practice comes mastery. Does it use the power of the PS2? C'mon, look at that screenshot above. Of course not. I can't make any excuses for the graphics--they are a decade old and look it. But once I got into the games, the visuals weren't so important anymore. I was too busy loving the gameplay and cursing at the difficulty--these games are intense! More extras (although IV's Boss Rush Mode is cool) or all four games on one disc would have been nice. For hardcore old-school shooter fans only.
Yeah, yeah, nostalgia is nice, and I used to love the Gradius series, but the timing for this game to come out is just entirely wrong. This isn't the sort of thing you want to pop into your cutting-edge technological wonder. Hell, you could have played this on the original PS when it launched in 1995, why did they wait until now? Also, why put two Gradius games on the disc with no extras? The only new thing that fans of the series will get out of this is a nicely rendered intro that is absolutely useless after it's been viewed one or two times. This half-assed compilation smells like an obvious attempt to cash in on the mass hysteria of the PS2 launch; don't buy it.
Download Gradius 3 & 4
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP