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Gradius Galaxies Package Art

Gradius Galaxies

For those of you who were fortunate enough to experience Konamiís Gradius series on the Super Nintendo, Galaxies will bring back fond memories. The ship customization, unique weapon power-up system and vibrant, detailed levels and bosses are all back. Does the series still hold up, almost 20 years after the first game was released? Will the game be able to capture the hearts of younger gamers weaned on more sophisticated titles? Does the shooter genre even have any life left in it? Donít just sit there asking questions. Letís hit hyperdrive and find out.


As expected, Galaxies features some of the best graphics in the series. The backgrounds are beautiful. Each of the eight levels has a different theme; the graphics convey each setting wonderfully, from the eerie statue level to the claustrophobic organic stage. All of the stages are brought to life thanks to the attention to detail and surreal alien backgrounds. Not to the say that the graphics of Galaxies are perfect. The enemy sprites look nothing special and even a few of the bosses are a let-down. Also, be sure to have a very good light source (or the SP) because the graphics are really dark. That aside, if you donít go into this game expecting Ikaruga, youíll find yourself drawn into the universe from a visual perspective.


Sound effects are typical shooter bleeps and bops (though there are a few voices here and there.) They work fine, but for some reason only a few can play at the same time, which honestly can get you killed if you rely too much on your ears to keep track of when enemy bosses fire their more powerful weapons. Itís not that big a deal, but being able to hear all of the action going on wouldíve been nice. The music is nothing special and definitely not memorable. The BGMs do their job and thatís about it. Tunes feel like theyíre from early generation SNES games. Stage music is above average, but boss music doesnít get your blood pumping like it should. Music in shooters should be more intense and rhythmic. Instead, they sound more like MIDI keyboard creations.


Itís a bit of a letdown to fans, but Galaxies does not change the Gradius formula at all. Thereís absolutely no innovation at this stage in the series, other than new levels and bosses. Weapons are all rehashes (and many are missing,) there are only two shield options (both of which have been seen countless times before and in Galaxies are pretty useless) and the entire feel of the game is justÖ old. After that initial disappointment, you find yourself having lots of fun blasting through the stages. The different themes keep you on your toes. Some of the most creative levels in shooter history are present and accounted for in Galaxies. Puzzles in shooters? Damn straight. Though the weapon variety is lower than normal, the result is more balance in the weapon system. No more fusion ray abuse here. Different sets of weapons are specialized for different types of situations, which forces you to really think about your powerup selections. Difficulty is just right. Unlike its predecessors, Galaxies doesnít induce frequent hair-pulling. There are multiple difficulty levels (including harder versions of the original eight levels for those brave enough,) and if you have trouble in a section, you can consult the Hint option, which plays back a video of how to beat the stage. Best of all, thereís a Continue option, which makes the Gradius series no longer feel like an arcade game and is perfect for the casual GBA gamer. Beat the game slowly, in sections, at your own pace. The main issue with Galaxies is that it is far too short. Though the levels are the perfect length, there arenít enough of them. Itís not short enough to be a rental, yet it doesnít last so long that you wonít hesitate before purchasing. There harder difficulties extend the play time a bit, but it isnít nearly as fun as the first time around (though youíll be in for a few surprises.)


There is no multiplayer. Unless you count switching off between you and your friends and siblings.


Galaxies is a fine shooter, but itís not for everyone. If you are looking for a long-term game like Golden Sun, then look elsewhere. Gradius Galaxies is a short but fun adventure that you can play whenever you have a pocket of free time. The difficulty is much better than previous games in the series, so no need to worry about that if youíve had horrifying experiences with insanely difficult shooters before (which everyone has.) The game is probably difficult to find, considering how itís a three-years old, low-profile game. But if you do manage to find this gem, it will probably be priced very low. So if you like what you read I recommend you pick it up at a low price. You may find yourself having more fun than you thought you would.

final score 6.8/10

Staff Avatar Kwan Perng
Staff Profile | Email
"Relax, it's just a game."

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