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Gofer no Yabou II

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Gradius II: Gofer no Yabou (グラディウスII GOFERの野望) / Vulcan Venture - Arcade, Famicom, X68000, PC Engine CD, Saturn, PlayStation, PSP, Wii Virtual Console (1985)

Japanese Arcade Flyer

American Arcade Flyer

Japanese X68000 Cover

Gradius II (the subtitle means "Gofer's Ambition") upgrades almost everything from the original game, and sets down most of the traditions that define the series. Running on a more powerful arcade board, Gradius II features some truly outstanding graphics - right at the first level, it pulls out all the stops and has you dodging through gigantic flaming suns, each on spawning tremendous fire dragons that are absolutely huge compared to the Vic Viper. Each stage now has a unique boss, which kicks off with a massive hawk made of pure, blazing fire. The second level features an H. R. Giger inspired layout, complete with eggs that hatch little facehugger creatures straight from the Alien movies, which were later reused in Super Contra. The third stage is a fierce battle through a field of crystals, which can be shattered and broken up into smaller pieces, like the classic arcade game Asteroids. The fourth stage is a revisitation of the cave level from the original game, but the fifth stage is another Moai level, which kicks into high gear in the second part of the stage, when all of the moais turn red and start spewing energy rings at twice the speed.

The sixth stage introduces the Speed Up zone, where the scrolling speeds up and challenges you to fly through a series of narrow corridors, inspired by the final section of Salamander / Life Force. This stage concludes with the Boss Rush, where you need to beat several bosses from both the original Gradius and Salamanader, concluding with a new foe - a huge spinning globe that launches indestructible missiles from both above and below. The final stage is another final base, which begins when the walls tear themselves apart and launch towards the Vic Viper - and later, the walls begin to shift and threaten to crush the ship if you're not careful. This ends with a battle against a gigantic mechanical spider, which is also completely invincible, and the only way to beat it is by dodging beneath its legs and find a safe spot until it leaves the screen.

When you start the game, or when you continue, you can choose your weapon array, which consists of four different arsenal variations. Amongst the new weapons are a Spread Bomb, which drops at an arc and causes a damaging explosion when it makes contact with something; the 2-Way Missiles, which will fire both upward and downward; the Tail Gun, which will fire shots in front of and behind the Vic Viper, and the Ripple Laser, which is less powerful than the standard laser but is much wider. You can also choose from the classic Gradius shield, which protects the front part of the ship for several hits, or a larger Force Field, which is weaker but protects the entire ship.

The music is a huge step up, featuring outstanding sound samples that are mighty impressive for an arcade board from 1988. There are plenty of voice samples - again, an aspect taken from Salamander - to announce which weapon you've selected or clue you in on the weak spot of a boss.

The game's biggest problem is its lack of restraint - it throws so many huge obstacles at you, and floods the screen with so many enemies, that it eventually grows to become obnoxiously difficult. If you get killed in the crystal fields of the third stage, you may as well just wait for the Game Over, because it's incredibly hard to get through with just the measly pea shooter. Thankfully, some of the home ports toned down the difficulty, which makes the game eminently more playable.

The Famicom port of Gradius II is reasonably close to the arcade version. Naturally, the graphics have been downgraded, but they're about on the level of Life Force. As expected, there's some added flickering and slowdown, but otherwise it's replicated remarkably well. It's also quite a bit easier, since the Famicom doesn't have the horsepower to flood the screen with projectiles like the arcade version could. There's also a thirty lives code, but since the game still uses a checkpoint system, it's hardly a breeze like Contra is that way. Unlike the NES versions of Gradius or Life Force, you can also have four options instead of just two.

Like a lot of Konami ports, a number of other aspects have been tweaked. The first level contains an extra segment where you need to dodge Salamander-style solar flares. The second level has a completely new additional boss, a giant skull that shoots huge light beams from its mouth. The third level boss is gone completely, and one of the foes in the Boss Rush stage has been replaced by the Zelos Force, the final boss from Salamander. Some of the music tracks have been changed around - one of the navigation themes were excised, and the main boss theme has been replaced with the Spider boss tune from the arcade version. Other than a few key songs, like these, the first and fourth stages, and the ending theme, most of the soundtrack is completely new and exclusive to the Famicom version. Like the MSX Gradius games, you can upgrade a weapon by selecting it twice. Additionally, you can select the Option again if you have a full array of them - this will order your Options to rotate around your ship for thirty seconds before returning to their regular formation.

The PC Engine version is almost graphically identical to the arcade version - the only major difference is the difference in horizontal resolution, which means that the view is smaller. There's also some brief load times after each stage, but there's also a brand new intro cinematic. All of the music is CD audio, and is identical to the arcade version. This version was released later on the Wii Virtual Console.

The difficulty level has been fine-tuned for home play - the easiest setting here is less challenging than the easiest setting on the arcade game, but the hardest level is just as brutal. Like the Famicom version, once you run out of lives, you need to restart the whole stage when you continue, whereas the arcade version just restarted you at the same checkpoint. This means you need to replay the level in the PC Engine version, but it also allows you to power-up your ship again, whereas in the arcade version, it's too easy to find yourself in a tough spot without the means to rebuild your arsenal. The PC Engine version features a new stage, some ancient ruins in a desert stage, including a new music track and a new boss. Overall, it's a toss-up between the PC Engine version and the Famicom between which is better.

The X68000 version is pretty much an exact port, although like the PC Engine version, it runs at a slightly lower resolution, and has slightly different music. This soundtrack can be accessed as a bonus in the music gallery portion of the Gradius Collection for the PSP. The PlayStation and Saturn (on the Gradius Deluxe Pack), and PSP (on the Gradius Collection) versions are pretty much straight ports of the arcade game, with the ability to turn off slowdown.

Quick Info:

Developer:

Konami

Publisher:

Konami

Genre:

Shoot-'em-Up: Horizontal

Themes:

Space Combat


Gradius 2 (Arcade)

Gradius 2 (Arcade)

Gradius 2 (Arcade)

Gradius 2 (Arcade)

Gradius 2 (Arcade)

Gradius 2 (Arcade)


Additional Screenshots


Comparison Screenshots


PC Engine Intro


Gofer no Yabou: Episode II (ゴーファーの野望エピソードⅡ) / Nemesis 3: Eve of Destruction - MSX, PlayStation, Saturn (1988)

European Cover

The first level in Gofer no Yabou: Episode II consists of a series of flaming suns, capping off with a fight against a gigantic, blazing eagle. At first glance, it may seem like this is just a MSX port of Gradius II - in reality, outside of the initial stage, it's a brand new game. The title infers that it's meant to be a sequel to the arcade game, in essence, making it "Gradius II 2." The word Gradius isn't technically part of the title, but the "G" in the logo is the same "G" as used in the lettering of the previous MSX games. (The European title forgoes this confusion and just calls it Nemesis 3.)

Much like Gradius II, you can pick from four different ship configurations, as well as two different shields. You can also choose your Option formation, allowing for a fixed formation or rotating pattern. Outside of the standard plant and biological level, there's a stage filled with warp holes, which transport you to the beginning of the level. In the middle of the stage, there are gravity waves that can send your ship careening out of control if you're not careful. There's also a hauntingly cool level filled with needles, and a sand level reminiscent of a stage in Gradius III, complete with a battle against a series of freaky-looking worms. There's also a moai stage, although this time they look a bit cybernetic. A few bosses from Gradius II return, including the final boss and an attempt to replicate the big spider robot.

Rather than retrieving weapons from bosses like in Gradius 2 for MSX, you can find secret weapons hidden in each stage. Most of these are similar to the bonus weapons from Gradius II, in addition to some powerful variations of the standard laser. Strangely, this is one of the few shoot-em-ups to feature a fetch quest. The plot is that the Bacterions have traveled back in time to kidnap James Burton - the hero of the MSX Gradius 2 - when he's still a kid. As James' descendent, piloting a starcraft called the Vixen, you must journey back in time to find them. At a certain point in the game, you need to start scouring every nook and cranny of each stage, looking for various map pieces that will tell you the location of the kidnapped child. If you fail to collect all three by a certain point in the game, you're sent back to that stage to hunt for it again. There's also a hidden radar item that will help you locate these pieces, and a secret shield which will open up the "good" ending. There are a handful of cinema scenes that pop up to explain the narrative, moreso than any other game in the series.

Like the two MSX games before it, the scrolling is choppy and annoying. And unlike Gradius 2, Gofer no Yabou Episode II was never ported to any platform (except for the emulations featured on the Saturn and PlayStation MSX Antique Packs) so it was never improved in any manner. The collection aspects can potentially be seen as annoying, but they also add some replay value. It's also a bit easier than the other MSX games, especially since the enemies are really generous with power orbs. And the music is, of course, excellent. Despite the technical limitations, it's still cool to see the developers trying to experiment with different ideas.

Quick Info:

Developer:

Konami

Publisher:

Konami

Genre:

Shoot-'em-Up: Horizontal

Themes:

Space Combat


Gofer no Yabou: Episode II (MSX)

Gofer no Yabou: Episode II (MSX)

Gofer no Yabou: Episode II (MSX)

Gofer no Yabou: Episode II (MSX)

Gofer no Yabou: Episode II (MSX)


Additional Screenshots


<<< Prior Page

Next Page >>>

Page 1:
Intro
Gradius
Gradius 2 MSX

Page 2:
Gradius II
Gofer no Yabou II

Page 3:
Gradius III
Gradius Gaiden

Page 4:
Gradius IV
Gradius V
Gradius Rebirth

Page 5:
Salamander / Life Force
Salamander 2

Page 6:
Portable Games

Page 7:
Solar Assault
Cosmic Wars
Other

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