Gradius (or Nemesis – as it was known when it originally appeared in European arcades) is one of the definitive side-scrolling shooters with iconic power-ups and great in-game speech (“Speed Up!”). This game has seen many sequels, spin-offs (in the form of Salamander/Life Force) and parodies (TwinBee and Parodius and its sequels).
It’s a classic in the truest sense of the word in both arcade and home console incarnations. The WiiWare game Gradius ReBirth is a nostalgic nod to Gradius and Salamander — basically a sort of “Greatest Hits,” if you will.
The graphics are a mix of classic 8-bit NES and modern, with some backgrounds and enemies being low-res sprites and some being modern 3D rendered objects with textures to make them look like low-res sprites. It’s a pleasing effect that works well. The levels are modeled on classic levels from Gradius, Gradius II, Gradius III and Salamander; the bosses echo bosses of the past without being exact copies.
As with Gradius III, there is a choice of power up sets along with fully customisable button layout and choice of controller: wiimote-only, wiimote + nunchuk, classic controller and Gamecube controller are all supported. There are five difficulty levels, each with its own local and online leaderboards as well as a Time Attack Mode wherein the goal is to get the highest score possible in a fixed time limit. These new features are probably the only draw for anyone who has already purchased the originals on the Virtual Console, because as much as the game is fun it’s strongly faithful to the previous games to the point where it may seem redundant. I didn’t download the VC games, so this satisfies any Gradius/Salamander itch I need to scratch.
At 1000 points it’s a little on the steep side, but this is a quality title and well worth it. Now all we need is Parodius ReBirth, right Konami?