Original Release: 1985
Platform: Gradius was released on a great number of systems. The most important of its original releases were the arcade version and the NES port, which was technically inferior but was the easiest way for most people to experience it.
How to play it: These days, your best bet for playing Gradius is probably the NES version offered on the Virtual Console. It has some small changes to the level design, and you can only carry two Options, but the rest of the port is very faithful and quite impressive for the NES hardware. If you are purist and need the arcade version, you will have to track down the excellent Gradius Collection on the PSP.
What it is: While not one of the very earliest shmups, Gradius is still something of a pioneer. → Illiterates hate her! Click to read this one weird trick.