Scramble and the Gradius series

This is where you can deliberate anything relating to videogames - past, present and future.
Post Reply
User avatar
JaySevenZero
Admin
Posts: 2302
Joined: August 27th, 2012, 4:28 pm
Location: Liverpool, Europe, Earth
Contact:

Scramble and the Gradius series

Post by JaySevenZero »

Here's where you can contribute your thoughts and opinions of Gradius series for potential inclusion in the forthcoming podcast.

A friendly reminder to all that where feedback for the podcast is concerned, we love it - but self-editing (brevity) is appreciated. We do want to include a breadth of opinions where appropriate, but no-one wants a discussion podcast that’s mainly reading. Better to save yourself time and cut to the chase if you can.

The games we'll be covering in this podcast (to a greater or lesser extent):

1981 Scramble
1985 Gradius (Nemesis)
1988 Gradius II (Vulcan Venture)
1989 Gradius III
1997 Gradius Gaiden
1999 Gradius IV
2004 Gradius V
2008 Gradius ReBirth

User avatar
Magical_Isopod
Member
Posts: 714
Joined: May 29th, 2018, 11:57 pm
Location: London, ON, Canada

Re: 420: Gradius series

Post by Magical_Isopod »

I'll contribute to this one eventually, but I wanted to drop a footnote... In the podcast, they mentioned that this podcast doesn't include the Parodius or Salamander games. Just in case anyone was wanting to add those on their play-along backlog. Just the main series and related spin-offs, I presume.

User avatar
Stanshall
Member
Posts: 2254
Joined: January 31st, 2016, 6:45 am

Re: 420: Gradius series

Post by Stanshall »

Thanks for bringing this up. I didn't listen closely enough because I was too busy cheering.

So, no Salamander/Life Force (and sequel) or Parodius, Otomedius, etc.?

That makes sense.

User avatar
andthenweplay
Member
Posts: 11
Joined: March 5th, 2020, 11:57 pm
Location: AB, Canada

Re: Our next-but-one podcast recording (24.5.20) - 420: Gradius series

Post by andthenweplay »

Gradius V came out at a time when I was completely uninterested in arcade style games and wanted games more "depth". Little did I know arcade style games would be the games I would play nearing into my 30's. I picked up Gradius V on PlayStation 3 in preparation for the podcast earlier in the year and it was painful. The game I found extremely difficult mainly because I never really played a scrolling shooter since Arrow Flash on the Sega Genesis decades ago. But I stuck with it Eventually being able to one credit complete on hard mode with 5 lives ofcourse, and I fell inlove with the game. For a game on the PlayStation 2, I thought it looked really good. The backrounds at times were simply stunning and even with lower polygon count compared to modern games I was constantly impressed with how the game looked. The soundtrack was adrenaline pumping which suited the game perfectly. And that game play is extremely addictive. Collecting power ups, and the risk rewards of which ones to carry on with and changing load outs for multiple playthroughs. Simply amazing and I will defiantly be looking into more Treasure games

User avatar
BaileyBoy
Member
Posts: 120
Joined: December 13th, 2015, 10:37 am

Re: Our next-but-one podcast recording (24.5.20) - 420: Gradius series

Post by BaileyBoy »

I can't remember the first Gradius game I played. To my knowledge I didn't own any of the home ports of earlier titles and I have no memory of having played it at any of the numerous arcades that lined the seafront where I grew up in Weston-Super-Mare. I was born in '86 and although I was spending time at the arcades from a very young age courtesy of my two older brothers, by that time there were too many bigger, flashier distractions.

In 2004 I picked up a copy of Gradius V shortly after release. I was a fan of Treasure and excited about their involvement and was clued up enough about the series by then, even if I had no memory of playing it before. What surprised me was that I instinctively knew how the power up system worked and recognised certain other elements too.

In the early 90's there was an ingenious local "entrepreneur" who operated a games and VHS tape rental business from the back of a transit van. It would pull up outside every weekend like an ice cream van, my brothers and I would all pour in and grab a game or two to keep us busy for the week. We didn't own a lot of cartridges for our 8 and 16 bit consoles but this meant we had a steady stream of games flowing in and out of the house for years. I couldn't tell you half the games I played during this period but at least one of the Gradius games or it's spin offs must have been in the mix somewhere, the memory sealed away in my subconscious to be unlocked on playing Gradius V.

I played a lot of Gradius V and count it among my favourite PS2 games, eventually managing to finish it on lower difficulties but never did quite manage a 1CC on it's default settings. Partly because of it's incredible difficulty but also because I enjoyed it so much I went and picked up the Gradius III & IV collection for PS2, a burned copy of Gradius Gaiden for my modded PS1 (😲) and started playing those too.

I enjoyed all of them, but the one I ended up putting the most time into was the infamous Gradius III. At the time I was getting back into retro games, the 6th gen consoles didn't cater too well to fans of 2D gaming so I think Gradius III just appealed to me more versus the flashier Gaiden and IV. To the surprise of absolutely no one, I never finished it but I played it a lot and did end up getting fairly decent at the early stages, occasionally making it to the back half of the game. It is unquestionably a game designed to not be beaten but something about it's frankly obscene level of challenge drew me in at the time. It's pure nightmare fuel, but I like it.

I've since gone back and dabbled with earlier entries and spin offs, Rebirth, played a lot of Gaiden (which may be my favourite) and I often return to V to have another crack at score attack mode. I still play III now and again too and never get as far as I used to but I still genuinely enjoy it. Maybe one day I'll have a go at the SNES port to give myself an actual chance of finishing the damn thing.

I love these games. I've always enjoyed shmups but in particular this style that challenges me to improvise and react rather than demanding bullet pattern memorisation and perfecting routes. The bullet hell subgenre has largely passed me by for this reason, I can appreciate the craft but it just doesn't hold the same appeal. My enjoyment comes from playing a game of survival, rather than a high score chase.

The Gradius games have the perfect amount of reactivity to maintain that constant knife edge gameplay, for my tastes, better than any other games in the genre that I've played. The adrenaline rush of wreaking havoc in a fully powered up ship is also for me, one of the most satisfying feelings in all of gaming. I may have come to the series very late, but I haven't stopped playing since.

Side note- My PS2 died last week (RIP). The last game I played on it? F****ing Gradius III. We can now officially add "Console Killer" to it's list of crimes.

User avatar
Stanshall
Member
Posts: 2254
Joined: January 31st, 2016, 6:45 am

Re: Our next-but-one podcast recording (24.5.20) - 420: Gradius series

Post by Stanshall »

BaileyBoy wrote:
May 20th, 2020, 4:28 pm
I love these games. I've always enjoyed shmups but in particular this style that challenges me to improvise and react rather than demanding bullet pattern memorisation and perfecting routes. The bullet hell subgenre has largely passed me by for this reason, I can appreciate the craft but it just doesn't hold the same appeal. My enjoyment comes from playing a game of survival, rather than a high score chase.
Interestingly enough, this exact criticism is why I don't enjoy the likes of Gradius and R-Type anywhere nearly as much as bullet hell games. They are overwhelmingly memorisers, from my perspective, and it's incredibly difficult to recover or adapt if you die or find yourself out of position. That's not at all true of even the most intense bullet hell games where you can almost always react your way out of trouble if you have the skill and timing and feel for manipulating and misdirecting different patterns. Even watching Gus route his way through something as unforgiving as Mushihimesama Futari Ultra, there's an enormous amount of adaptation, spontaneous dodging skills and in-the-moment decision making.

User avatar
BaileyBoy
Member
Posts: 120
Joined: December 13th, 2015, 10:37 am

Re: Our next-but-one podcast recording (24.5.20) - 420: Gradius series

Post by BaileyBoy »

Stanshall wrote:
May 23rd, 2020, 11:19 am

Interestingly enough, this exact criticism is why I don't enjoy the likes of Gradius and R-Type anywhere nearly as much as bullet hell games. They are overwhelmingly memorisers, from my perspective, and it's incredibly difficult to recover or adapt if you die or find yourself out of position. That's not at all true of even the most intense bullet hell games where you can almost always react your way out of trouble if you have the skill and timing and feel for manipulating and misdirecting different patterns. Even watching Gus route his way through something as unforgiving as Mushihimesama Futari Ultra, there's an enormous amount of adaptation, spontaneous dodging skills and in-the-moment decision making.
That's really interesting and in truth, I'd have to defer to your greater knowledge and experience with the genre. If I were to hone down on the specific thing that makes the difference for me, it might be the literal space on screen between enemies/bullets being greater in this style of shmup that makes me feel as if I have more room to manoeuvre and improvise. That and the fact that enemies/projectiles target the player hitbox far more so than in the bullet hell games that I have played, making it feel more reactive.

There is definitely an element of skill here though too. I've never been particularly good at shmups and it may well be the case, as you say that reactive play is just as important in the average bullet hell shmup, but I've never reached the required skill level to feel the same way.

There is another element for me though in the level design. In Gradius, R-Type and it's ilk, level design is often just as important as encounter design and navigating a particular stage's unique elements and hazards is as big of a gameplay concern as the combat. It's contributes a lot to my enjoyment of these games and something that's been absent in the bullet hell style games that I have played.

To be clear, this is not a criticism of the bullet hell subgenre, just a matter of personal preference. I'd definitely be open to game suggestions that might better fit my particular tastes, it's a genre that by my own admission I'm not massively knowledgeable about outside of the more well known titles.

User avatar
ratsoalbion
Admin
Posts: 7316
Joined: August 28th, 2012, 9:41 am
Location: Brighton, England
Contact:

Re: Our next-but-one podcast recording (24.5.20) - 420: Gradius series

Post by ratsoalbion »

Gradius V embraces both styles and requires both skillsets on higher difficulties/loops, I’d suggest:


User avatar
BaileyBoy
Member
Posts: 120
Joined: December 13th, 2015, 10:37 am

Re: Our next-but-one podcast recording (24.5.20) - 420: Gradius series

Post by BaileyBoy »

ratsoalbion wrote:
May 23rd, 2020, 1:17 pm
Gradius V embraces both styles and requires both skillsets on higher difficulties/loops, I’d suggest:
Thanks Leon, I'm quite familiar with that game already though! (See my first post).
I love that game and it definitely does require both skillsets, increasingly so on higher loops but I've never quite been good enough at the game to see it. It's incredibly tough for me, even at it's default settings and I'm still gunning for a 1CC in score attack mode on loop 1 over 15 years later :lol:

Post Reply