Gradius is a sidescrolling shooting game which inspired a whole genre. Being the first game of its kind on the NES, Gradius inspired many of the sidescrolling space shooters to come. Although it is considered by many to be a classic, and it has a lot of unique features, it is not without flaw.
Gradiuss graphics are pretty decent for a game from 1986. The enemies, bosses, and backgrounds are large and colorful. There is a good variety of backgrounds, too, such as a stage with giant Easter Island heads, a level that looks like an alien nest, a high-tech space fortress, and areas with mountains and trees. The graphics are nice, but rather simplistic. Its very easy to see enemy shots, which is crucial for shooters, as I never like …
…getting blown up by things I couldnt see. There is some repetition in Gradiuss graphics. One stage is just an upside-down version of the volcano level, and the same exact boss design is used for every level except the last two.
Gradius offers a decent challenge, but it really isnt too hard to master. Once you have your ship fully powered-up with all the weapons, options, and shields, it becomes almost unstoppable. There are many areas that require practice and memorization, as navigating through the background terrain is just as daunting a task as dealing with the various enemies. Perhaps the biggest challenge is making a mistake, getting blown up, then reappearing without any of your weapons in the middle of a tough level! Unfortunately, the boss battles are not one of Gradiuss strong points, as every boss is the same except for the last two. Many mini-bosses have similar attacking patterns. Gradius also has, quite possibly, the lamest final boss in the history of video games.