If you’ve been keeping a beady eye on the PSN Store, you’ll have noticed HAMSTER Corporation have been busy releasing a host of retro arcade classics onto PlayStation 4. Under the title of ‘Arcade Archives’ you’ll find retro heaven in the form of shooters, fighters and the like. Our very own Northlander reviewed ‘Arcade Archives’ Renegade. If you know nothing about this 1980’s Beat ‘em up then you’re missing out. Now it’s the turn of space shooter GRADIUS to return and get some fresh attention onto home consoles and hopefully some new modern gaming love.
Back in the 1980’s I was standing on milk crates with a pocket full of ten pence pieces, feeding my addiction into arcade machines. Shoot ’em ups had me hooked. Back then forget about visual explosions displaying millions of coloured particles obliterating into the ether as your high tech craft swooped in for another return run; technology couldn’t do that then. It was the simple days of gaming, with your main concern being that the machine did not swallow your coin without giving you a credit. It was pure primitive gameplay that was the draw back then, so when we got wind of HAMSTER Corporation releasing a host of classics from the 1980’s on PSN, we got slightly excited.
I’m sure GRADIUS has inspired many a PlayStation indie developer as the game still remains a classic. It’s also one of the first shooters from KONAMI. Don’t worry, GRADIUS does not come to PlayStation 4 dressed to the nines. It’s as bare looking, untouched and bold as ever. And that’s the beauty of such a shooter.
GRADIUS is flowing and relentless. There’s no text, cut scene or story to get in the way. Continually scrolling rightwards your journey encounters a host of attacks from aerial enemies and slippery ones based on surfaces both above and below. Swarms of fodder can be lovingly picked off as GRADIUS is a gracious affair. It’s a pleasure to pick up and does not want to be put down. Just like my favourite shooters, Scramble and MOON CRESTA (which are heading to the EU Store soon by the way) GRADIUS is as addictive as any shooter you’ll download from the current next gen bunch on offer. Pick-ups along the route enable a safer passage by gifting you with greater speed, double fire power and extras like lasers and bombs. As swarms of hornet-like craft ascend and take you from behind, GRADIUS requires skill, precise control and accurate firing abilities … and a bit of luck.
The wonder and brilliance of early arcade games was the tension and sickening feeling in the stomach as you reached the furthest part of the game or a high score you had never hit before. Credits ran out fast. Unfortunately you won’t be replicating this feeling, for a reason only know to the developers hitting the Triangle face button allows you to up the credits, taking away the nail-biting finish. But if you’re a trophy hunter on the other hand, HAMSTER Corporation have your back and are giving them away. How they got away with such simplistic actions to bag them I’ll never know. Simply opening the menus pings them and using the save feature helps with the remaining trophies.
If you’re craving that retro shoot ’em up feeling then here you go. GRADIUS is a no-frills, clever and addictive blast from the past.
Lizard Rating – 7.5/10