(Konami, November 7, 2001)

Gradius finally comes back to the Game Boy (GB Advance anyway) after all these years. If you are not familiar with the Gradius series than your missing a great shoot em up with a long and storied career in video games. What makes this series such a cult hit is the very unique weapon system. While you collect power ups from defeated enemies, it’s up to you to pick from 6 capsules of upgrades.  These are: Speed, Missiles, Double, Lasers, Options, and Shields in that order, it's up to the player to decide what to get first giving the gamer more choice than the average shoot em up. Galaxies is an all new game in the series unlike the remake Gradius III & IV for the PlayStation2 but is the game still good enough for the $30 price tag?

The game comes with 8 levels and four unique and different weapon set ups for your Vic Viper star ship. Selecting the right type of set up that best suits you is important like the Spread type has the twin Missiles and wide Ripple Laser to cover more area while the Power type has Photon Torpedoes and a strong Thrust Laser to take out enemies quicker. There are 14 weapons in all and it's fun to try out them all but it would have been better if the set ups were editable like in Gradius III instead of limited to only four choices.

You're going to need all the firepower you can get because this is not a forgiving game at all much like other Gradius games of the past. Konami listened to the many complaints however, and now you can look at a new strategy guide in the Hints section that's built right into the game. If an area of a level is giving you a headache just look up that area in the Hints section and the game will show a quick demo on how to beat that troubled section. The player also has the option to continue where you left off thanks to a level select. These are some nice features but they also make the game a little too easy and now the game can be finished that same day.

The graphics are really nice looking for a shoot em up with photo realistic backdrops and huge bosses that the older Game boy’s wouldn't be able to pull off. Each stage looks different from one another like the Artificial Galaxy Stage (level 3) with the flaming beast to the giant heads of the Moai stage (level 5). There isn't even too much slowdown when the screen gets too busy like when you get the maximum 4 options power ups, shields, etc.

Although the graphics were great, the new scratchy music was just awful and it sounded even worse than the original Gradius for the old NES. The Game boy Advance just can't handle realistic music like the older 1991 Super Nintendo could and the incredible Gradius III for the SNES proves that. The sound effects were fairly decent and there were even some voice samples in there too but the in-game music is just too annoying forcing the player to turn the volume down in a hurry.

Bottomline: Shoot the core!

Gradius Galaxies would have almost got an average rating if it wasn't for the game's build in save feature. This new save feature added additional replay value to a game that can be finished in an hour or two because learning how to master the game is key to getting the best records and beating your friends in the top score board. You can also forget about cheating too, because you can't enter your name in the Top Ten if you use the level select and the famous Konami code............... from Gradius III *hint* *hint* Gradius Galaxies is a smart purchase for any shooter fan!

*Battery back up game

Gradius Galaxies
overall rating: 74/100

For 1 player only
Rated (E) for Everyone

graphics: 8/10
sound: 4/10
gameplay: 7/10
replay: 7/10

(Ryan Genno) 2008

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