GRADIUS III AND IV / Konami / Playstation 2
 
 
First off, the port of Gradius III here is the original arcade verison, not the SNES port which I actually enjoyed. The difference between them is that the arcade release actually looks and sounds worse, and is a hell of a lot harder, with all the enemies the SNES version has plus even more shit packed into the screen. For example, in the first part where you reach the sand, the arcade versions has all these assbag sand lions jumping around that aren't in the SNES one. I guess the one advantage is that it doesn't have the SNES slowdown, but otherwise it's balls.

Gradius 4 is total balls. I assume its a direct port of the arcade game. It looks nicer than any version of Gradius 3 ... *sometimes*, when it chooses to use graphical effects for certain larger enemies. Otherwise it looks like a horribly outdated early 90s arcade game.
 


The outdated graphics aren't the problem, though. It's the outdated mentality. The original Gradius was kind of stiff and unresponsive and saddled you with a pussy beam with no auto-fire because it was made in 1985 and shooters were in their infancy, and arcade technology was just getting out of it. Gradius is still stiff and unresponsive and saddles you with a pussy beam with no auto-fire because ... well, I'm not even sure. Because if a thing gets popular in Japan, sometimes they keep just doing the same goddamn thing over and over and over, and the public has this unbelievable insatiable appetite for it even when similar games in the genre have advanced leaps and bounds beyond it (see also Dragon Quest up to 6 or 7 or so.) In the West? Not so much, which is why Gradius 3 and 4 machines in English-territory arcades were rare to nonexistent. Whitey cares not for comforting, rote nostalgia-based repetition.

Gradius 4 is just shit for several reasons. Aside from the outdated look and gameplay, it's the absolute king of cheap memorization-based shooters. Cheap hits come out of nowhere that you can't possibly avoid if you didn't already know they were coming. You're expected to just keep dying, replaying and memorizing however-many levels of this. There's little room for fun, improvisational, reflex-based play, it's all just about mapping fixed patterns into muscle memory through rote repetition. You've got your usual little cult fanbase of masochist/OCDs who love this, but everyone else rightly thinks its tedious garbage and has no desire to waste their time with it.

And then the game wants to top it off with a "You need more practice!" taunt when you die. No, game, I need to trade your obnoxious ass away for something that's actually fun to play.
 
 
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