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"Gradius III" (Wii Virtual Console)


When I first bought the Wii, I really did have buying old-skool game classics in mind...but, many of the offerings that are currently on the Virtual Console are not games that I played when I was younger.  However, with the release of the 1991 arcade-ported classic "Gradius III", I had to sign on because this is one of my favorite shooters ever.

In classic "fly right forever" style, you are in command of a ship that can be upgraded with a shitload of weapons and your mission is to kill everything, anywhere, ever.  Featuring no storyline whatsoever (ahh, the early days of gaming!), you fly through what seems like endless missions to get to a boss, figure out its one weakness, and take The Man DOWN!!!  The big thing with the "Gradius" games was that you could pick a set of weapons before you start your game and then you would kill little bad guys to get the chance to select those weapons and upgrade the ship; the best parts were always the Option modules, which could shoot whatever weapons you had while flying around your ship to give you extra firepower.  Basically, when you have a maxed-out ship, it's damn near impossible to die...

...which is the major problem with "Gradius III", and I knew this even before I decided to buy it again on the Virtual Console:  this game is RIDICULOUSLY FUCKING HARD.  Basically, without the shield up, you die every time another enemy or one of their shots hits you, which is often.  Even with a shield, you can take three extra hits before dying.  This means that you have to use the Konami Code, and that gives you 30 lives instead of just three for each of your three continues.  And, let me say this--I played through almost the entire game a few weeks ago, and I still didn't beat it...even with 120 lives!!!!

So, there's that.  But, the trip down memory lane--the insane amount of bad guys on the screen at the same time, the corny music, the cool boss fights, and the Option modules--was so worth it.  If you're itching for a classic shooter, make this one the call.

Rating:  $40


Feedback?  Comments?  Salma Hayek's digits?  justin@bellviewmovies.com


Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  Buy this game right away, and don't ask me any questions as to why that's a good move.  A game experience that will almost guarantee repeated controller abuse, lots of ManScreaming and high resale value, you will assuredly play this bad boy for months on end. 

"$40":  Usually after games have been out for a while, they drop in price slightly, or can be bought for slightly cheaper in combination with other new games.  Usually, that's about $40.  You'll feel good getting the game for this price, since it isn't quite run-out-and-get-it-right-now good, but it has enough game in the box for a few weeks' worth of enjoyment.

"eBay":  This game is not too bad, but you'd be better off buying it used from either half.com or eBay.  You also might let a friend buy this game, let s/he beat it, and then try to buy it from them to make them feel better.  Yes, this does tend to feel like "Sloppy Seconds."

"Rental":  Like my cousin Ron, you should always rent games that you aren't sure about first, to make sure that your $50 is going towards something worthwhile.  For games in this category, this is the maximum amount of money ($5) and/or time (3-5 days) you'll need to either gain satisfaction from the game, or beat the game in its entirety.  Rental-rated games are also sometimes perfect for a weekend when you are going to be at home on your ass, with some time to kill.

"Dogshit":  Games like this should have never been released.  If you play this game for any reason, you will regret every second of the experience.  Further, if you can get this game for free, don't do it, because even for FREE, it will still be a negative experience for you!

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/bellviewmovies.com except where noted
1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09