Review: Gradius II: Gofer no Yabou (TG-16)

Two years after its last epic battle, the GRADIUS army recommissions the VIC VIPER super-dimensional warplane to combat the invasion of a new nemesis known as GOFER.

This is an almost arcade-perfect port of the arcade version of Gradius II, which was also known as Vulcan Adventure. Konami made no compromises in choosing the PC Engine’s Super CD format to release this game on, and the music sounds better than ever as a result. Sadly this never made it to the west as a TurboGrafx-CD game, so this is an ideal candidate for a Virtual Console release.

Vic Viper returns to battle the second onslaught of the Bacterion Empire, under the new leadership of Gofer, the giant head. In what was a first for the Gradius series, players could select their power-up configuration. Most of the weapons seen in Gradius and Life Force are present, as well as new additions such as Spread Bomb, Photon Torpedo, and Tailgun.

Any seasoned shmup fan will have no doubt had their reactions tested to the extreme by at least one game in the Gradius series. If this is the case, you will know exactly what to expect here. In fact this is probably one of the hardest in the series; everything but the kitchen sink is thrown at you from the moment the game begins!

There is a tremendous amount of variety in the levels and lots of surprises along the way. The end of level bosses are impressive and are definitely the highlight of the game.

There are also some nice improvements to the PC engine port of Gradius II, including a lovely animated Vic Viper intro that shows off the ship's skills to some funky Konami rock music. In addition to this there is an additional level that sees you navigating your way through crumbling ruins in a desert.

Conclusion

The Gradius series is famed for its difficulty and Gradius II is no exception. If you die you lose all your power-ups and have to start back at your last check point. This uncompromising system may be off-putting to some but perseverance will reward you. We heartily recommend this to shmup fans, but be warned it is not for the faint hearted!