School of Shmups: Gradius

Game: Gradius
Original Release: 1985
Developer: Konami

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. →  Read the rest

School of Shmups – Intro

A few blog posts ago, I asked people if they would like an article series devoted to the shoot ’em up genre. The response was solid, and so I begin the endeavor with this introductory article, in which we lay out the rules for our fun. I will also be making sure to link to these rules at the start of each new column, so those who actually try and read won’t accuse me of things I already stated.

Thankfully, the rules are simple. Each article will begin with some basic information about when and where the shmup came from, followed by the best ways to try to play it. After that, we take a look at how the game fits into the genre. As I learn more of the terminology and history regarding shmups, I hope to use this section to look at a game’s influences, its impact, and where it seems to stand in the eyes of the dedicated community. →  Read the rest