is for.... forward to


By Konami Arcade 1985


Arcade flyer for Nemesis - click to enlarge!

This is the Mothership boss that plagued you
throughout the game, sometimes when you
were'nt expecting it.. Pick on someone your
own size..big bully!

Lets talk about the original Nemesis.. For a 1985 game,
it actually had rather good graphics, and catchy sound.
Really catchy in fact, a great arcade melody which I've never forgotten. By todays standards, maybe it does seem a tad dated, but 14 years does that to a game. Mind when
R-Type's graphics were the best you'd ever seen?

More importantly, it, I believe, defined the horizontally scrolling shmup. Look at the innovations, all brought together in one package - weapon system, bosses, multiples - need I go on? What were basically Scramble clones until then were completely overshadowed by Nemesis/Gradius when it came out..

Malcolm Laurie, Creator of SHMUPS!

Not my favourite of levels this.. it was damn hard,
especially if you died and lost all of your weapons...
The Easter Island heads here were to later
become a trademark of the series.

The 'bio-organic boss' style would appear
later in Konami's 'Salamander'

Space Year 1985.. Konami unveils a
true all-time arcade classic in the shape
of a shooter with the worlds first fully developed power-up system..

Here follows a fairly common scenario
in my household when I was a nipper:

Me: 'Can I have some pocket money Mum?'
My mum: ' will only go and spend it on
Me: (holding fingers crossed) 'No I won't..Honest!'
My mum: 'Ok..But you'd better not be going in any
arcades to spend it all..'
Me: (receiving cash) 'Okay..! Bye!'

An hour later, one skint fourteen-year old returns forlornly home, all his money having been shoved into his favourite arcade machine at the time. And that game was Nemesis..

Nemesis is one of the candidates for best
title-screen in a videogame ever..

Along with R-Type, Nemesis (or Gradius as it was known elsewhere) was probably the most influential shoot-em-up of the '80's and on it's release in arcades in 1985 it blew pretty much every other coin-op shooter out of the water in terms both of game design and visual style.

Konami had released some very nice arcade shooters previously (including the original Scramble, Time Pilot and Gyruss) but there were so many unique and new features in this game.. the floating 'multiples', the pioneering progressive weapon selection system, the odd 'mirrored' nature of the stages and those weird star-shaped shields were all firsts - and the fabulous for their time background graphics, memorable in-game music and the sleek, uber-cool design of your ship - the 'Vic Viper' - all contributed to make Nemesis an instant videogame classic. It remains so to this day. Look closely at any modern evolved horizontal shooter (not to mention a number of vertical ones) and you'll more than likely see features which first saw the light of day in this very game.

Nemesis spawned many home versions on nearly every available format at the time, including a pretty good C64 one. It was followed by a semi-sequel 'Salamander' in 1987 as well as a true sequel 'Vulcan Venture' (one of my fave arcade games ever!) in 1988, and Gradius III was released on the SNES in 1990. The rather nifty Gradius Gaiden was recently released on PSX, and the all-new Gradius 4 is due to hit the arcades any time around now..

(Above left) Dunno why but I found these weird
tentacled space-raspberries a bit creepy in the arcades
(right) Inter-planetary Dino remains.. cool..


The Nemesis/Gradius series of games are essential emulation candidates. You can play the games in MAME or 'Sparcade' - of the two I would recommend Sparcade which is pretty much arcade perfect. If you are interested (you should be!) visit my
Nemesis Emulation page.

Alternatively click
here for a look at Salamander
( aka 'Lifeforce' ) or
here for a look at the the Nemesis sequels - Gradius II (Vulcan Venture) and Gradius III.

Links: There are plenty of excellent fan sites scattered across the
web which pay homage to the Gradius series. Here are a few:

Planet Gradius
Gradius Homeworld
Gradius Army
The Gradius Online Manual
Gradius Nostalgia
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