Gradius ReBirth (WiiWare)

Game Review

Gradius ReBirth Review

USA USA Version

Posted by Corbie Dillard

Does Konami's old-school Gradius formula still hold up all these years later?

The original Gradius arcade release was one of the first truly great side-scrolling shooters and, along with R-Type, spawned a legion of copycat video games back in the 80s and 90s. The Gradius titles have been copied and cloned more times than can be counted and, much like other popular shooters over the years, the series has gradually evolved, taking on more modern touches. With the release of Gradius Rebirth, Konami (with the assistance of emulation experts M2) decided to revive the franchise on Nintendo's WiiWare service, but instead of making use of the more modern shooter conveniences, they chose to take a trip back to the origins of the series to try to cash in on the popularity classic gaming is currently enjoying on the current generation consoles. So how does a game that attempts to mimic the 8-bit shooter stylings of its early counterparts fare in a world where shooters have long since lost their lustre, not to mention become so ridiculously intense that they've garnered such labels as "bullet hell" and "manic"?

Gradius Rebirth allows for a wide variety of control methods including using the Wii Remote on its side, the Nunchuk, the Classic Controller, or even a Gamecube controller if you're so inclined. The game also features several play modes and options to keep things interesting, not to mention a wealth of configuration options to customize the controls to your exact liking.

The main game mode is pretty much what you'd expect it to be. It's “Gradius” in all its glory. You'll navigate through the many levels blasting baddies and eventually facing off with a boss. As you progress through the game, you'll have the ability to start back at the last check point you reached. While this will come in handy for less-seasoned shooter fans, most hardcore shooter enthusiasts will seldom, if ever, use any type of continue or save point while playing, but at least the feature is there if you need it.

If you're looking for something a little more competitive, you can choose to take on the Score Attack mode that allows you to play through the levels in an effort to rack up the most points. You can attempt to outscore players locally or on a worldwide scale via the Wi-Fi function. You can even record your scoring runs and replay them at a later time, a nice feature for those that like to show off a bit (you know who you are).

The gameplay itself couldn't be any more familiar to fans of the classic Gradius series. The exact same power up system is still in place and the game even allows you to set a button to rapid-fire, which will save your thumb some serious wear and tear. As with most of the early Gradius titles, the pacing of the game is a bit on the sluggish side and lacks the high level of intensity found in many of the other shooter series of the time period. The power-up system is also a mixed bag. While the Speed power-up can be useful for making your ship move around at a faster rate of speed, the cannon fire and bomb power-ups can be tricky as certain types work better in certain situations and you often have to decide ahead of time which type of power-up you want to use in a given situation. So while the feel of Gradius Rebirth closely resembles that of the classic Gradius titles, this isn't necessarily always a good thing.

That's not to say that there's not still plenty of classic arcade shooter-style play to be enjoyed, and the tricky enemy and bullet patterns and plenty of closed-quarter levels will keep you ducking and dodging for cover. The game also features a fairly high level of difficulty, so if you find yourself easily frustrated, you might want to take that into account. Of course there is a wide range of difficulty settings, but unfortunately there's little difference between the various settings.

Visually, Gradius Rebirth looks like it just stepped out of a late 1980s arcade. It has a very pixilated look reminiscent of the 8-bit era of gaming and, although there are probably more colours onscreen than we saw back then, it still looks like it would be more suited to running on an NES or PC Engine system than an advanced piece of gaming hardware like the Nintendo Wii. The end-of-level bosses are probably the high point of the visual experience with some being absolutely immense and extremely detailed. But for the most part it's clear that developer M2 was going for the nostalgic look. If you can appreciate that, you'll surely enjoy what Gradius Rebirth has to offer in terms of visuals. It's worth noting that this game is yet another WiiWare title that doesn't quite stretch the full width of the screen, which has become a rather sore subject with many widescreen HDTV owners. Overall, M2 has captured the classic look and feel of the Gradius series, but doesn’t go too far beyond that.

Musically you couldn't ask for a more accurately executed classic shooter soundtrack. Gradius fans will instantly recognize the musical stylings from the 8-bit days, although the music quality is quite a bit better. There are clearly sound effects and music that could not have been executed on the NES console--probably not even the Super Nintendo system, if the truth be told. You even get a taste of the good old muffled digitized speech to give it that classic arcade audio effect. Another nice feature is that the music tracks tend to change quite often, even mid-level, so you'll never really get tired of hearing the same track over and over again. It doesn't hurt that most of the musical tracks are fairly catchy and fit right in with the classic Gradius atmosphere (in fact several of the tracks will be instantly recognizable to fans as remixes of past favourites) as do the sound effects. If you've got a good Dolby surround sound system you're going to be in for a real treat as the audio has a very open and spacious sound that's really quite impressive considering its only Pro-Logic II sound.


It's obvious that Konami and M2 haven’t tried to reinvent the wheel with Gradius Rebirth, as many of the game play ideas have long been a staple of the series over the years. Fans of the early Gradius titles are likely to find a lot to like with Rebirth as it looks, sounds, and plays pretty much the same as those early Gradius titles. Having said that, shooter fans who've grown more accustomed to the more recent Gradius releases (the spectacular Treasure-coded fifth entry in particular) might find Rebirth too much of a step backward for their liking and the toned down intensity will likely overshadow any of the nostalgic feelings the game brings out. Gradius Rebirth is certainly a solid enough shooter and the trip down memory lane is fun while it lasts, but you can't help but walk away wishing that Konami had tried some new ideas instead of just rehashing the same formula. Having said all that, it's still hard to complain given that the game only costs a mere 1000 Wii Points and there's not really much else on the WiiWare service to choose from as far as shooters go. As a love-letter to a highly esteemed franchise this is a reasonable success, but it tends to leave you wanting a little more. Roll on Gradius VI.

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User Comments (124)



slangman said:

6/10, I was expecting a 7/10. A bit put off getting this, but I wil still consider a download someother time.



Sean_Aaron said:

Good review. I'll ignore the score because I hate such things, but it bears repeating that this is very much a compilation of the games that came before it. You will see levels that echo bits from Gradius, Gradius 2 and Gradius III as well as Salamander (Lifeforce), so if you like the current retro trend then you'll definitely find this a satisfying experience.



Corbs said:

Yes, it's sort of a retro-Gradius remix, of sorts. I'd personally rather see Konami do a new Parodius title for the WiiWare service, although Otomedius Gorgeous has kept me busy enough. :)



Djungelurban said:

Yeah right, this is worse than Star Soldier R. When doggies fly! Nothing can crush my spirits when it comes to this one. Me want! If this isn't released this Friday... Grrrrr....



Djungelurban said:

Well, that does make me more curious about Star Soldier... But still getting this first... :)



Corbs said:

Let me put it this way. If you like the Gradius series, you'll be all over this one. If you're not a big Gradius fan, this game isn't likely going to change your mind. But it's still a decent shooter on a WiiWare service that is currently in short supply of them. :)



Djungelurban said:

I'd like to challenge that notion... Even though I suck at shmups I do love them quite a bit. :P
Even though I do see the absurdity that I'm sitting here defending a game I've yet to play... Oh well... :D



Rabspat said:

Well, we're all entitled to our own opinion, and I've been having a blast with this one! The graphics and sound are nice, and the gameplay feels polished, if not incredibly punishing. The only other Gradius game I've played is the original, and this one's better overall. In my opinion, this is definitely worth the $10!

Also, I just placed 7th on Normal mode! :) Pfft, not like that will last very long...



Omega said:

I'm actually not a big fan of this retro thing on WiiWare, but I must admit that I quite like the colourful graphics of Gradius Rebirth for some reason. And 6/10 - not in the same league as World of Goo but it's not bad, isn't it? Not too bad at all

The game also features a fairly high level of difficulty, so if you find yourself easily frustrated, you might want to take that into account.
So how difficult is the game? Can you describe in more detail? I loved Gradius (AKA Nemesis in Europe) on the C64. Although, compared to most console games, with ridiculous graphics, I found it very playable and not too frustrating. It's about on par with the original 2 Gradius titles in terms of difficulty. Not brutal, but still very tough later on.

And I also liked Parodius on the GB, Gradius Advance on the GBA or R-Type DX on the GBC because they were bearable even for the non-shooter-experts.
But when it comes to games like Ikaruga (Gamecube) or R-Type III (SNES), I am missing the words. There are so many shots on the screen and so little space to move, I see no chance reaching the higher levels. Getting good at bullet hell shooters is just like any other. It's re-learning to play a shooter with emphasis on dodging more than shooting. Just takes time and practice.

As you progress through the game, you'll have the ability to start back at the last check point you reached in the game.
Okay, if you lose a life, you start on the last check point. But how exactly does the continue system work? Can you continue infinitely in Gradius Rebirth? Or only 3 times or so? There are several check points in each level. When you're game is over and you turn off your Wii, you can come back another time and choose to start at any level and checkpoint you've reached before.

I would really like to try another shooter. But be honest: Is the game appropriate for someone who likes to play only if the difficulty is not too high? Or can you find this game only to be good if you really think you are a Game God? You don't have to be a Game God, but you'd better be ready to put in some time to beat it.



Mayhem said:

Wow, that was a bit surprising score wise from all the more positive views beforehand. Pity you can't try before you buy with Wiiware...



Link79 said:

I just wish it had more than 5 stages but it's still a good Gradius game.
Anyone who likes these games will have fun with it.



Objection said:

Looks like I should have gussed 1 lower than 7/10 instead of 1 higher. Oh well. Nice review, Mr. Shooter.



Rawk_Hawk said:

Don't get hung up in the number score. He mentioned very positive things abouth the game. It sounds like if you enjoy any of the past Gradius games then this one is a good choice. I am putting it on my wish list.



MarkyVigoroth said:

Doh. This is worse that Gyrostarr? (That means that retro-esque games do not equal instant hits. Innovation DOES have a purpose...)



Sean_Aaron said:

@Omega: it's Gradius so despite being difficult, it's difficult in an 80s sense and quite approachable. The chapters approach (I think this was introduced in Gradius II or III) allows you to pick up where you left off if you don't wish to continue a current game.

I've been to the 3rd boss; very tough, but there's a lot of game before then and it's a fun time, so I'm not fussed about finishing the whole thing and pick it up now and then.

And let's not get hung up on the scores people and compare one score to another (that's why I hate them). I'm sure the reviewer wasn't sitting there comparing the game to Gyrostarr when he wrote the review, so the fact that one is a six and one is a seven doesn't necessarily mean one is quantifiably better than the other. Read the content of the review and decide if it's for you.

I sincerely hope people aren't just looking at a final score and refusing to buy anything that doesn't get a minimum number...



thewiirocks said:

Harsh. Though I can understand how one might feel playing an 80's remix after coming off a Treasure entry into the series. It would be like giving me Demon Attack right after playing Ikaruga. I'd look at you funny and ask what exactly you were taking when you thought Demon Attack would be a good follow-up. ;)

I do have to say though, Gradius Rebirth does get more fun the more you play it. Also, reconfiguring the controls for autofire helps A LOT. So much so that it should have been the default configuration.

@Omega - Ikaruga is a lot easier for beginners than many other bullet-hell games IMHO. Just remember to switch to the correct color to absorb bullets and you'll do fine. The difficulty does ramp up rather quickly (I still can't beat the boss with the pistons you have to shoot) but the basic gameplay is very approachable once you understand the mechanics.

If you want bullet-hell games that have gone too far, look no further than Mars Matrix. If you can get past the first boss, you're not doing too bad. Outside of bullet-hell games is Border Down; a crazy, over the top, somewhat confusing, yet visually appealing shoot'em up that will test the patience of any player. ;)



Draygone said:

@15. Link79
Only five levels? That's not very many, considering even the SNES Gradius III had more. Maybe they're doing it like other games, and the extra levels can only be played on higher difficulties. What difficulty level you play on?

I'll probably enjoy the game, myself, despite the "two steps backwards". The newest Gradius game I've played was Gradius III. So for all I know this might be one step up for me. :P

Also, from the video's I've seen, the game doesn't really look nor sound 8-bit. More like 16-big Genesis. (I'd say SNES, but if this were like SNES, we'd be seeing massive slowdown. :P)



thewiirocks said:

@Draygone sez... if this were like SNES, we'd be seeing massive slowdown.

Actually, there are several parts where the game slows down. Other than to give that "retro-feel", I can't figure out why for the life of me. We're talking about a game console that can push north of a billion texels a second! Slowdown simply shouldn't happen. Adding it in merely for the purpose of being "retro" is just plain annoying.



Ren said:

This looks fun, but honestly I don't think it'll do well at this pricepoint. It's a retro game after all and it looks pretty stripped down; I know thats the point, but I think if your going to redo a classic like this it should have a lot of levels or some kind of extra, flashy online content or something (for 1000 points). otherwise keep it really cheap and everyone will snatch it up without a blink.
Interesting how the retro "look" usually still encompasses a lot of elements that weren't possible before so they often shape our perception of what a game was.
When you actually get a chance to play a classic game as it was it can be quite a shock. It's like watching a period film, vs. actually being there where you have all the smells and grunge of a given time.



DarkAkatosh said:

Corbie, unless I missed something here, you mentioned absolutely nothing about power-up choices. From the screenshots, it looks like there are ripple lasers and normal lasers and whatnot. What about different types of missiles, like spread bombs and two ways? Are those included? Can you edit your power ups like you could in Gradius III? Or are there different "ships" you can pick from like Gradius II and IV?

Another thing worth noting that has gone unmentioned-does the game loop to a harder difficulty level when completed? (I assume it does since it's a Gradius game but you never know)



Link79 said:

@ Draygone
Yep it really only has 5 levels. I've played through it twice and can confirm this. No new stages on higher difficultys though you do unlock a new ship after beating it once.



Link79 said:

It should have been a bit longer and 1000 Wii points is rough considering better shooters on VC are only 800 pts or even 600. It's still a decent shooter though If you really enjoy these games.



SmaMan said:

Hmm... I'm still not totally sure if I should go ahead and get another 2000pts. to get this one. Well my little brother will probably get it so I'll try it out on his and see. The one big thing that puts me off is the only 5 stages thing. Ah well. Might not be too big a deal.



ejamer said:

Bad news: Gradius ReBirth might sound like a comletely new game, but it plays more like a tight remix of previous Gradius titles than a full rebirth...
Good news: ...luckily, playing a remix of a classic shmup series like Gradius isn't half bad, and is probably still worth the 1000 Wii Points for many people.

Nice review! Some might disagree with the final score, but I think it's fair when you look at how many Virtual Console shmups are easily available, just as enjoyable, and even cheaper than this game.



xesbeth said:

Gradius Rebirth is a remake, of the first Nemesis gameboy title more precisely. M2 add cinematics for msx Gradius fans (appearance of Venom, James Burton, Metarion...), 4 ships must be unlocked (With a Metarion type) and there are 3 endings.



Corbs said:

Mars Matrix isn't that tough. You've just got to understand how it works. It's a bit like the Yagawa shooters that feature the "Rank" system that constantly adjusts the difficulty and forces you to suicide at opportune times. It's not so much memorizing as it is figuring out how to play it.

@ DarkAkatosh - I did use one small paragraph to talk a little about power-ups, but I didn't go into great detail as the review was already running long. I assumed readers could look at the screen shots to see the various types of cannon fire without me having to describe each one of them. :)

And remember, this review is just one opinion. This doesn't mean you won't like the game. I liked it, but I didn't like it a lot. :)



Omega said:

@Sean Aaron (#20): That was what I have heard about Ikaruga (before buying it): It's approachable and if you spend enough time on it you can complete the game. But that's not true for me.

@TheWiiRocks (#21): Boss with pistons? Is this the End-Boss of Level 2 where you have to open the two caps which are guarding the weak points and then get in there and attack?

I manage to reach the fourth level in Ikaruga without continuing. But only if I SURVIVE the End-Boss of Level 3. This is the circular orbit station which must be defeated from the inside. I cannot destroy this thing but I can stay alive until the timer ticks down and eventually get to the fourth level.

But the Boss of level 4 is hell. You have to switch colours every 0.2 seconds and shoot while navigating through millions of black and white bullets. This is where I realised that I could never complete this game without cheating (continuing) even if I try it for 200 years.

I'm still not sure what to think about Gradius Rebirth. But when it has only 5 Levels than I guess it's not too easy. This was sadly the formula of the most early action games: Make them short and hard.



Sean_Aaron said:

Well, I've never played Ikaruga so I cannot comment on that, however I've never been the greatest videogame player (Defender is my all time favourite and only on a good day do I get to wave 4 or 5 let alone loop the colours like the people that had to take piss breaks back in the day) and I can enjoy this. Don't know that I'll ever see Level 5 like some, but I can still give it a bash now and then and have a good time and that's enough Gradius/Salamander for me.



Link79 said:

Well Life force only has 6 levels and it's still a great game while it lasts. I was a bit put off by the short length of Rebirth but shooters never were known to be very lengthy affairs. I just had to get this anyway cause I can never have too much gradius. It's good but could have been better.



Ferret75 said:

Not to speak against you, but did you just rate the game low just because it was a lot similar to the earlier games, which were good?



envisionboy said:

F**k this s**t... unless u like dying a billion times one minute into the first level on some cheap-ass flying rocks...



Corbs said:

Once R-Type was released, the Gradius games were never the same for me. The first three games feel very "tired" to me and always have. I once did a Top 100 Shooters list and no Gradius title ranked on the list above 80 except Gradius V, if that tells you anything. The Gradius series didn't really peak until late in the series and that only made the earlier games look and feel more dated.

Gradius Rebirth is too much like the first two releases which I already think are very mediocre in terms of game play and visual stylings. I think Rebirth is a decent shooter that some will enjoy and I rated it at that score. It's honestly "Not Bad" in my opinion.

Oh and you can speak against me all you like. That's what these comment sections are for. I can take it. :)



anthonyb said:

Downloaded this one last night. I'm enjoying it, though I'm starting to regret it- Life Force is just as good, and it has the 2 player option. I think the value would've been much higher had they included co-op.



Rabspat said:

Somebody said that the game doesn't have a second difficulty loop, when it actually does. o_o However, you need to be playing on Normal difficulty or up.



tasthomas said:

yeah, this looks better than Gyrostar. I bought Gyrostar because i wanted a shooter, and it was AWFUL! I'd give it a 1/10.



Djungelurban said:

Huh... That's interesting... I, on the other hand, have never really liked the R-Type series and it's the only shmup series off the top of my head that I wouldn't consider buying if I came across it in a store. To further emphasize my dislike for the series, personally I'd say that I like any version of the Gradius series (including the Gameboy games) better than any R-Type game. Perhaps I should note that I've turned my back on that series after III (and I didn't even give that one much of a chance either) so maybe it's improved but color me skeptical. So perhaps Gradius is your R-Type in which case maybe you were the wrong person to review it... I mean, I should never be given the job of giving a fair review to a R-Type game either... I'm just saying... ;)



Sean_Aaron said:

And I like R-Type and Gradius, so perhaps I can be the Riva of the side-scrolling shooter universe (if you get that reference you're as sad as I am!).



Link79 said:

R-type and Gradius are probably my two favorite shooters but I prefer Gradius more. R-type is way too hard sometimes and just pisses me off to the point of screaming some of the most foul obsenities known to man. I don't like extremely fast paced shooters. It's no fun when 50 million things are flying at you from all directions and you don't have infinite continues. At least you do in R-type 3 but Gradius is a bit less insane and I can handle that.



Corbs said:

If I had given this game a rating based solely on my own personal shooter tastes, it would have been a 2 or 3, but as a reviewer I can't allow myself to do that. I think I was pretty fair to this game considering it's probably the only shooter series from the hundreds of shooters I own that I don't really care for. :)



KeeperBvK said:

Corbie, I usually agree on your shooter tastes (how could I not, considering you love Cave? ^^) and I, too, am no Gradius Fan by any means, but you can't be telling me that you prefer Gradius IV over III.
Despite the difficulty I loved Gradius III (the Arcade version present on PS2) and Nemesis on GB was rather nice, too. The other ones though, well, they aren't too much to write home about. I'll give you that.
But III was really, really good. No masterpiece, but certainly better than the ugly fourth one.



Corbs said:

To be honest with you about the only Gradius game I play anymore is Gradius V and even that isn't very often. I normally stick to bullet hell shooters nowadays, mostly Cave stuff like Deathsmiles, Muchi Muchi Pork, Ibara, and Espgaluda II in my cabinet as of late.



xesbeth said:

Gradius V? Ah you must talk about Treasurius V! The Gradius with a grey ascendancy, no Moai and a manic spirit. What about Gradius Gaiden? Boring too? If you don't like old school shooter and more precisely Gradius, so why did you rate Rebirth? Because you are a "shooter fan"? A layman could'nt do it?



KnucklesSonic8 said:

Honestly, I was surprised with the 6. The review led it up to be an 8 in the end. :o

Also, this is GOLD:

  • "You can even record your scoring runs and replay them at a later time, a nice feature for those that like to show off a bit (you know who you are)."

Awesome feature!!

Interesting to hear that you enjoyed SSR because I loved that game. Definitely in my Top WiiWare. But considering how well-written this review is, it hasn't deterred me from getting it. It's still on my wishlist. I just need more points. :P

Nice review indeed. :)

Also, I really wanna see what else Konami has in store for WiiWare. The company itself has a lot of potential that can be explored through the WiiWare service. I'm looking forward to hearing about a music game, especially.



Corbs said:

If you don't like old school shooter and more precisely Gradius, so why did you rate Rebirth? Because you are a "shooter fan"? A layman could'nt do it?

I reviewed it because it was my turn to review and this was the game that was released. :)

It was originally supposed to be Bit.Trip.Beat but it was pushed back so I didn't get to do it. It had been awhile since I reviewed a game as we were trying to let the new reviewers get their feet wet. Whatever they assign me, I review.



SmaMan said:

Man, you guys gotta quit lashing out at Corbie! The reviewers review in a turn based way, not by "who likes what". In this way it makes it more likely that the review won't be biased.



Dazza said:

@Corbie - It's true, we asked Corbs to review Pong Toss and he happily did it. Now that's dedication for ya! :-p



Corbs said:

Wow, you own the PCBs of those games Corbie?

Yes, I own the PCB kits for those cave titles for my Egret 2. I'm hoping to grab a few more when our income tax money comes in. :)

As for Bit.Trip.Beat, we have no idea what happened to it. It was due in February and didn't show up. :)



fixjuxa said:

I reviewed it because it was my turn to review and this was the game that was released.

It was originally supposed to be Bit.Trip.Beat but it was pushed back so I didn't get to do it. It had been awhile since I reviewed a game as we were trying to let the new reviewers get their feet wet. Whatever they assign me, I review.

Is this really how you guy's operate at WiiWare World? I gotta say, that's a bit disconcerting. Games should be assigned based on preference and taste, not on some schedule. It really doesn't make any sense to have someone that doesn't like Gradius reviewing a new Gradius game. A review done by a fan of the previous games would have been much more helpful, don't you think?



Corbs said:

Games should be assigned based on preference and taste, not on some schedule.

Do you really think that's how most media outlets function. That's an awfully naive viewpoint. It would be great if we all got to pick and choose the games we wanted to review, unfortunately Pong Toss and many other games like it would still be awaiting a review. :P

And I don't really care for puzzlers, yet I gave World of Goo a 10. We have to try to be objective in our reviewing, even if the game is from a genre we don't particularly like or have a great knowledge of. :)



SmaMan said:

...sigh... doesn't anyone read my comments anymore?

They do it on a turn based basis for that very reason. Obviously if they picked someone who was a huge fan of the series then it would've been biased greatly. Picking on a turn basis vs. by who likes what let's you see what a random gamer would think.

With that being said, it might be a good idea to put what type of games each reviewer likes from greatest to least on a chart of some kind. I remember Nintendo Power used to do that in their "Now Playing" section where they would put all the reviews of many games.



Bahamut_ZERO said:

I really liked SSR. Glad to it did better than this (actually, isnt SSR the highest rated shump on WWW?).

@Corbie:Im sure you reviewed Pong Toss due to it being your turn. Suuuurrrreeee ;)



CanisWolfred said:

I'll get it someday. I love all of the Gradius series, and I still play the original regularly.



worrybomb said:

Good review Corbie. Since I haven't bought any shooters lately on the VC, I rather much concentrate on that and hold off from getting Gradius Rebirth.

I still play the PSP Gradius Collection even though its not the best translation of Gradius I played.



Corbs said:

If you own a PSP, don't forget to check out the three Konami "Portable" titles: Parodius Portable, Twinbee Portable, and Salamander Portable. All three are excellent. They go wherever my PSP goes. :)



thewiirocks said:

@Corbie - Says you! I always get to the second level, then die immediately. I don't last long under the onslaught. :P Technically speaking, no shooter is all that hard once you get the hang of the mechanics and controls. But part of the challenge is always getting those mechanics down pat. Some games allow wider margins of error than others...

@Omega - That's the one I'm talking about. It sounds like you're doing a lot better with Ikaruga than you let on. Being able to beat the game has never been a measure of the quality of shoot'em ups for me (probably because I rarely beat them :P), but I suppose everyone has their own viewpoint.

@tasthomas - Indeed



Corbs said:

@ thewiirocks - And I wasn't trying to insult your shooter skills, I just meant that Mars Matrix is one of those odd games that you have to figure out before you can get good at it. I had a guy point me to a video taken from a shooter competition in Tokyo and this guy carved the game up with the precision of a surgeon. I've never seen anything like it before. But it showed me how to tackle the game in a different way. Come to think of it, I do need to fire up the Dreamcast and play it again. It's been awhile.



thewiirocks said:

I'm not insulted in the slightest. Merely stating my own difficulties and viewpoint. You wouldn't believe how happy I was just to get to level 3 on Soldier Blade. (Doh!) :)



fixjuxa said:

This is why you dont give a game hype because it will end up crapy

Yeah, but the guy who wrote the review doesn't even like Gradius. Have you played Gradius? If you have, and you enjoyed it, you'll like this because it's more of the same with some new stuff sprinkled in here and there.

I simply don't understand the logic behind assigning the review to someone who's predisposed to not liking the game . Why would you not cater to the people who are actually interested in buying the game(i.e. fans of the series) and get someone who likes the series to review it?

The reviewer has admitted that his favorite game in the series is the one that strays farthest from the classic games that hooked most fans. Why in the world would you assign this person to review a game that's basically an homage to the earlier 8/16 bit classics? It just doesn't make any sense. Of course, I understand that people are going to review games they'd rather not play, like all the shovelware that's constantly popping up. But don't ask a guy to review a game from a series he doesn't like because it's just dumb and serves the interest of no one, because what's the point in saying "I've never really like this series so this game doesn't really do much for me. 6/10". What would be better would be a review that says "I've always like the Gradius series and this is a good/bad Gradius game".



thewiirocks said:

@fixjuxa - Seriously, give it a rest. Corbie's review was fair and spot on. Regardless of whether or not this is his favorite type of shooter, he was dead on with both his praise and criticism of the title. We could not ask for a better review, no matter what Corbie's biases might be.



Corbs said:

You do realize that a 6/10 is still a decent game. I liked Gradius Rebirth. I just didn't like it a lot. And in the review it clearly states that fans of the series will likely find a lot to like about Gradius Rebirth. I don't think I could have been much clearer.



fixjuxa said:

I don't care about the score it received. I'm just making the argument that it's a bad idea to assign somebody to review a game from a series they don't care for because the only people this caters to is people that probably won't like the game anyway. That's it. Can anybody explain to me why it would be preferrable(or at the very least tell me the upside)to have a person who isn't a fan of a series reviewing a game from that series? It just seems illogical to me.



Corbs said:

Having someone familiar with the series or a big fan of it wouldn't be any better because then you'd have people claiming that it was unfairly given a better score because the reviewer was biased towards the game. Or for someone not familiar with the game or genre at all, you'd have people claiming that the reviewer just didn't "get it" when they reviewed it. In truth, you could spin this any way you wanted to, but in the end when I review a game, whether I like it or not, I treat them all the same way.

And I do understand your argument, but you have to understand that we also cover news items and do interviews on a continual basis, so sometimes they just have to give the review to the person that is available at the moment. We can't always pick and choose that carefully, not to mention that we have no way of knowing every reviewer's exact likes and dislikes when it comes to video games.



Jockolantern said:

I'd have to bump up the score from a 6 to a solid 8, but Corbie's main point remains very true: If you like/love the other Gradius titles, you'll definitely get a kick out of Rebirth. It's more of the same but that's certainly not a bad thing.

I will however take exception with one particular annoyance: Star Soldier R a better game than Gradius Rebirth? Not by half. SSR can't even be qualified as a full shooter gaming experience; merely an arcade scorefest. Rebirth, thanks to its traditional level-to-level shmup makeup is a much more engrossing game.



KeeperBvK said:

"If you own a PSP, don't forget to check out the three Konami "Portable" titles: Parodius Portable, Twinbee Portable, and Salamander Portable. All three are excellent. They go wherever my PSP goes."

No mentioning of Gradius Portable? :P



Corbs said:

No mentioning of Gradius Portable?

Gradius Portable is actually a good collection for the PSP, but I didn't mention it because worrybomb stated he already had it, if I'm not mistaken. :)



Zork2 said:

If you like the Gradius series this game is about an 8/10, which means it's not perfect, it's not great, but it is good. Here's your fan review.

The graphics are actually quite a bit better than any 16-bit shooter. They are not pixelated, in fact, they look blurry. It looks like the enemy ships were pre-rendered from 3D models instead of being hand drawn. I would have preferred higher contrast sprites and sharper edges, but the game overall does look good. The organic and moai bosses are incredible.

There are five levels with familiar themes: volcano, organic, moai, desert, and base, plus a secret level. Unlike the older games the levels are quite dynamic. For example, at the entrance to the volcano level there is a pair of force field generators. Leave them alone and you get a brown earth level with two volcanos before the boss. Destroy the top generator and the level freezes over with ice. Destroy the bottom generator only and the level turns red with volcanos all over the place. The game's difficulty settings also affect the layout of the levels, which adds quite a bit of replay value to the game.

The weapons are the standard Gradius fare, however there are only three choices initially and there is no select mode to mix-and-match. Beating the game unlocks new ships with different weapons. The first 5 configurations have only the standard options that follow you around, no rotating options or anything weird like in Gradius 3.

The biggest problem for me is that the ship is too slow. It starts too slow and doesn't speed up fast enough. You need all five speedups to reach the equivalent of three speedups in Gradius 2 or 3. This means no teleporting around the screen at warp speed, which is doubly unfortunate in light of the replay feature :)

There are four checkpoints per level and unlimited continues from the most recent checkpoint. You can start the game from any checkpoint on any loop that you have been to, at any difficulty setting. On "very easy" difficulty the enemy ships are very slow and do not fire at all. On "easy" you can destroy their shots. Normal is about what you would expect for a Gradius game. On harder difficulty settings the enemy ships are faster, there are more of them, and they shoot more, including extra shots when they die.

A little word about slowdown. It's part of every Gradius game, and it's there for a reason: you need it to survive. On the harder difficulty settings Gradius is very much a "bullet hell" shooter. Sometimes you can't kill everything and the best thing to do is to let the enemies shoot like crazy and dodge shots and collect power-ups. A lot of people just don't get this, and after they die they keep trying to play the game the same way. You can't.



Omega said:

@thewiirocks (#66): I always try to beat a game. For me, it is an important quality characteristic, whether the majority of players can beat a game or not. The only exeptions are games such as Pac Man oder Tetris where it basically is just about High-Scores. But of course you're right: Everyone has his/her own view.

@Zork2: This is an interesting new perspective on the game. Thank you for that.

As I understand in Corbie's review, the main drawback of Gradius Rebirth is, that Konami didn't tried something new and have instead rehashed the same formula of the old games. Seeing it in this way, the score of 6/10 is surely justifed. But what is with Mega Man 9? Has Capcom not also recycled the formula of an age-old Jump and Run game with no real improvements? And this gets 9/10?

I do not see quite why. I mean, Gradius and Mega Man are both popular classics.



JohnH said:

I've played a great deal of this game over the past couple of days and I have to say that there's actually a lot more to it than it first seems....

1. The first level has three different "styles," depending on which of the bases at the start you blow up: white, orange and red. White has the mountain UFO boss at the end, orange replaces it with the erupting volcanoes from the original Gradius, and red has that AND all the mountains in the level are erupting too, making it much more difficult.
2. There are a good number of secret areas, it turns out, although they're pretty hard to find.
3. Most importantly, loops 2 and 3 (which can be accessed from the start as Hard and Very Hard mode) actually have different level layouts! The basic theme of the stage is the same, but the terrain and enemies have been shifted around. The change on Loop 2 is relatively subtle, but Loop 3 shifts its levels around rather a lot. (It's also incredibly difficult....)



Sean_Aaron said:

@Zork2: Good info there. I think I'll replay the game on the easiest difficulty levels just to see what's there and work my way up.

SNK Arcade Classics has shown me that there's no shame in picking the Easy difficulty sometimes!

I've got a review for this up on my blog, but I'll not link to it direct out of respect for Corbie's space.

And in case it's never been clear before my contributions are gratis; I only preview the stuff that I'm interested in (fringe benefit of volunteering, I guess) and I'm happy to support this site. I think it's completely legitimate for someone who isn't a lifelong fan of a game to be able to review it provided they can put in some objectivity. I certainly never got the sense from this review that Corbie disliked Gradius, and I'm sure if I had already purchased all the Gradius and Salamander games available through the VC, I might have a different view of this release than I did.



KeeperBvK said:

Just bought a Points Card, so I'm ready for Friday...though I'm probably bound to be disappointed by Nintendo who can't be ar*ed to release it. .



Corbs said:

As I understand in Corbie's review, the main drawback of Gradius Rebirth is, that Konami didn't tried something new and have instead rehashed the same formula of the old games. Seeing it in this way, the score of 6/10 is surely justifed. But what is with Mega Man 9? Has Capcom not also recycled the formula of an age-old Jump and Run game with no real improvements? And this gets 9/10?

I do not see quite why. I mean, Gradius and Mega Man are both popular classics.

Well let me clear it up for you Omega. I felt like the classic Mega Man experience still felt quite fresh even still today and the classic Gradius experience felt more dated. I still liked the game, but felt like Konami could have at least made a few changes to liven things up a bit. While Gradius was impressive when it was first released in arcades, it was quickly bettered by other shooters from the time period that began showing up in arcades and took a long time to get back up to speed, in my opinion. So taking the series that far back didn't seem like the best solution to me when Konami was clearly doing it better down the road. :)

But I've got to say, I love the fact that many of you like the game so much that you want to stick up for it. Nice to see some varying opinions being thrown around. :D



Omega said:

Thank you, Corbie, for your new comment. This proves that everyone has their personal taste. Although, if I only had read the review without looking at the score, then I would have thought you also like it a lot. But, as you say, it is good that there are different opinions. What would the world be if everyone had the same opinion? ;-)



Corbs said:

I wish people would pay less attention to the score and more on the actual review. And also remember that a 6/10 on our scoring scale is about a 7 on many others. But you're right, everyone has their own tastes and that's yet another good reason to always consult multiple reviews from various sources. :)



Ferret75 said:

I understand what some people are saying, but seriously, I kind of have to fixjuja.

Also, I'm finding it a bit hard to find Gradius Rebirth worse than Star Soldier R and Gyrostarr. o.o



JNoodles said:

This game is my second favorite WiiWare game... Ah Corbie, you should've given it a seven. You guys know you can insert the Konami Code (Up Up Down Down Left Right Left Right 1/A 2/B) on the pause screen to get four multiples right? Really makes things easier on you.



Corbs said:

Well at least IGN seemed to agree with me. :P I'll be curious to see how this one fares on the Top 20 next week. It's a bigger name game so surely it will do well.



Sycoraxic98 said:

Does anyone know of a Konami game that DOESN'T use the Konami code in any way shape or form?



JNoodles said:

Well, actually, I read through the review again and I pretty much have the same feelings as you do towards ReBirth. There could've been something more but... it's still fantastic, and I'm standing behind my 7/10 rating.

Also, the Konami code doesn't work with Castlevania I on the NES either. :P



KnucklesSonic8 said:

fixjuxa seems to have quited while he was ahead. :P
Glad everyone's enjoying this. General opinion seems to be 6-8/10 making it a good buy for 1,000 Points.



KeeperBvK said:

Listing every Konami game that does not feature the Konami code would take a lot longer than listing those who do...



djshep1973 said:

I am sooooooooo getting this when it is released in Europe! I'd say the Nemesis / Gradius franchise is probably my favourite of all time, so on reading that this edition is something of a retro-styled mish-mash, I will now start impatiently waiting for the chance to buy it...

Then I can get back to waiting for Axelay to get a European release! :-D :-D



fixjuxa said:

[i]fixjuxa seems to have quited while he was ahead.
Glad everyone's enjoying this. General opinion seems to be 6-8/10 making it a good buy for 1,000 Points.[/i]

Well, I hadn't planned to comment further but since I've been called out for "quitting" I guess I will.

Sure it's possible that, as Corbie said, a fan might overrate the game, but I still think it's better to error on the side of a game being overrated by a fan of the series than being underrated by somebody who never really cared for the series in the first place. Plus I think that often times fans of a particular series are the hardest to please because they have a certain expectation of quality given that they enjoyed the previous games. In the end I still think it would be better if WiiWare World didn't let a person review a game when they already have a negative predisposition towards it. At least give the game to someone who expects to like it for what is, or at least what it's expected to be, which in this case is another 2D Gradius shooter.

We can't always pick and choose that carefully, not to mention that we have no way of knowing every reviewer's exact likes and dislikes when it comes to video games.

There's no way to know? How about asking "Hey, what are your thoughts on Gradius games? Oh, you never really liked them much? Okay, we'll get somebody else to do the review then." Seems easy enough to me.

And I'll state again, I really have no problem with the score or what the reviewer said in the review. I only have a problem with the idea that people that don't like a particular franchise are being assigned to review games from that franchise. The whole idea just seems backwards to me.



KnucklesSonic8 said:

Darn it. What have I done! LOL. :P
Well I suppose I'll add my .02 cents worth, then.

  • "In the end I still think it would be better if WiiWare World didn't let a person review a game when they already have a negative predisposition towards it."

Very interesting that you mention that even though they've mentioned before that it's purely on a rotation basis and it was mere coincidence it was Corbie's turn. But if someone has a predisposition towards a game I've been looking forward to and they underrate it on poor terms, then of course I'd be miffed! Which is why I avoid having a strong predisposition towards games, especially WiiWare games. They could always turn to to surprise you. You just need to have the right attitude going into a review. And in a way, I'm using this comment you made to further something I've been trying to explain to many but they can't seem to get the message. I think that such an attitude would make for a*better* reviewer, don't you?

  • "Hey, what are your thoughts on Gradius games? Oh, you never really liked them much? Okay, we'll get somebody else to do the review then." Seems easy enough to me."

I like how you mentioned earlier that you'd prefer a game get overrated than have it underrated. It's very debatable. What if a game was overrated like say Hockey All-Star Shootout. Do you know how many people would be downright ticked off? Meanwhile, if that same reviewer underrated a game, then those that are more likely to try it may end up saying "Hey, nice review. It coerced me into getting it and I'm enjoying it a lot more than what I thought based on your review". So in the end, they'll be happier so it's a win-win in the end.

But yeah, it has been mentioned before that there should be a Second Opinion thing like GameInformer has and this would be the PERFECT opportunity to test if such a system would work for the best - maybe with the integration of DSiWare Reviews!

Guys, I really think it would be worth at least trying for the betterment of reviews, reception and, by extension, the community as a whole. Whaddya say? :)

Anyway, thank you for expressing your feelings, fixjuxa. ;)



Corbs said:

We don't want games being overrated or underrated. That's why they don't assign me only games I like or only games I don't like. There would be bias both ways and you don't want that to become commonplace in your game reviews. That's why games are spread around, just like they are at just about every other media outlet. But even when I'm assigned a game I'm not particularly fond of, I still have to put that aside and try to look at the game objectively. I'd love to only review games I like. Then I could slap an 8 or 9 on them and be done with it each week, not to mention not have to play games I didn't like. Ah in a perfect world. :P

And one more thing: Don't be afraid to speak up on these comments. Good or bad, that's what they're here for. I want to hear what you guys have to say about my reviews, positive or negative. It also helps others to get a wider range of thoughts on a game from many different perspectives. Trust me, you're not going to hurt my ego. I'm too far gone for that now. :P



mogleum said:

So no controllable options like in Gradius V, I take it? I'll still probably get this since I'm a big Gradius fan, but I really liked that feature in the last game, even if it was a little cheap.



Corbs said:

Gradius Rebirth is old-school Gradius. Trust me, if you like the early Gradius titles, you'll like this one. :)



KnucklesSonic8 said:

When I first got here I was afraid to express myself, then I felt comfortable, then I stepped back a little and now it's a bit of both.

Regardless, it's comforting to hear you say that Corbster.



Sean_Aaron said:

The fact that PAL is getting forgettable dross instead of this is criminal. Nothing more to say.



KnucklesSonic8 said:

A. Jungle Speed is hardly forgettable.
B. What's criminal is you guys being forced to pay an additional 300 Points for Family Table Tennis.



Wiiloveit said:

RE: Comment 1:
"6/10, I was expecting a 7/10"
Congratulations on not finishing that sentence "...because Corbie was the one reviewing it"



Rawk_Hawk said:

I just downloaded this game. I am very happy with it. In fact I think its one of my top favorite Wii Ware games. Of course I also like Gradius games as well with Life Force being my favorite.



Kirk said:

Imagine a new Parodius with 3D graphics but still the classic side scrolling gameplay.

Now that would be sweet!



Corbs said:

Have you guys played Otomedius Gorgeous on Xbox 360? It's not too shabby.



Corbs said:

I imported my copy of Otomedius Gorgeous from Play-Asia. I don't think it's been released outside of Japan. That's why I finally broke down and bought a Japanese Xbox 360 console. :)




Good review. It gave me enough info to help me decide whether to buy it or not.However, from your review, it still seems to me it should've scored a 7. It doesn't matter though, a 6 or 7 would've still make me draw the same conclusion as to the purchase, so thank you.

BTW, I'm NOT downloading it. ;-)



edward1224 said:

First off, I've been a huge fan of Gradius III, yes oldschool, since it first came out in the 90's. Secondly, I have been addicted to Gradius Rebirth for a few months now. I've been greatly enjoying the game but also pretty upset over certain parts that I couldn't get past. It took a long time and a lot of playing as well as trying out different weapons but the other day I finally beat the game! I think they graded this game poorly by comparing it to other recent shooter games when it was obviously designed to be comparitive to the older versions, hence "Rebirth." I would have given it an 8 out of 10 myself. Of course, like he said, if you like the older ones, then you'll probably like this one.
I don't know if the game creators read this or not, but I do like the fact that you have more powerups available in this game, esp. after you die. I also like being able to upgrade your weapons, but...most of the upgraded weapons don't look or work much differently anyway. In addition, I don't like the fact that you have to choose your weapons by row. In Gradius III if you went to the right then you could pick individual weapons. In that way you could take your lasers from the first line, shields from the second line and missles from the third line. Lastly, I don't like how all of the multiples follow you around everywhere. In Gradius III you could chose to have them stationarily placed above and below your fighter. In that way you didn't have to risk flying into a rock to shoot an enemy. They also provided a level of shielding in the manor as well. Oh, yes, also, is there any chance of coming out with a longer version in disc format? I'm tired of having such limited space and these great downloadable games taking up so much of it. Thanks!




Betagam7 said:

"it still looks like it would be more suited to running on an NES"

Err...what? The NES couldn't produce graphics like this in its wildest dream!



Corbs said:

Hey, at least it's quite a bit cheaper in Europe. That alone makes it worth a look.



MickEiA said:

I got this mixed up with Contra ReBirth when I saw the review date I was confused now I know



tovare said:

The gameplay is balanced well for a truly rewarding game. I agree that this game could have been rated higher, because if you're looking to try out a classic style shooter, this game should probably be the second game purchased (Star Soldier R being the first ... because it's a nice introduction to the value of high-scores and the pursuit of perfection).



Zork2 said:

After having this game for 4 months now, I just keep coming back to it. It's really a 9/10 for fans of old-school Gradius. The graphics and music are impeccable, and the re-arranged levels add tremendous replay value to the game. It's really not the same game when you try to beat it on hard. Like every Gradius game, it takes a while to learn it and find your way though all the sections. Then it's really fun to play. So if you're looking for a difficult 2D shooter that will challenge you for months to come, for 1000 points you can't go wrong.




I think the hardcoreness of this game has put me off. I used to enjoy hardcore side scrolling shooters like Gradius (I believe I've played one or two of the Gradiuses on the PS2), but I'll pass.



Meffaliss said:

Well i guess if you're a gradius fan(like me) you'l lthink about getting it -
If i loved gradius 2 : Gofer No Yabou, i'm gonna enjoy this one :3



RichieTheSignPainter said:

I've been really enjoying this. I wouldn't have paid more than the 600 points they charge for it the the UK.
It's very very hard but I'm sure I'll get better with time.



Castro said:

The 6/10 score had put me off this title for a while, but I'm glad that I finally gave in and bought it anyway. It's great! More deserving of an 8/10!

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