Gradius II: Gofer no Yabou

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GII logo.png

Gradius II
GII title screen.png

Title screen of the japanese version

Developer: Konami
Publisher: Konami
Director: Hiroyasu Machiguchi
Music: S. Tasaka
M. Furukawa
K. Matsubara
S. Hukami
Program: Toshiaki Takatori
K. Tsutsui
T. Horimoto
A. Suzuki
T. Fujii.
Art: M. Yoshitaka
H. Ashida
M. Iwamoto
A. Nonami
K. Kakuwa
Release date: Arcade JP: March 24, 1988
Arcade EU: April 1988 [1]
PS1: March 29, 1996 [2]
Sega Saturn: March 29, 1996 [3]
PSP: February 9, 2006 [4]
PS4: July 15, 2016 [5]
Switch: November 12, 2020 [5]
Previous game: Thunder Cross
Next game: Parodius

Gradius II: Gofer no Yabou (JP: グラディウスII GOFERの野望, "Gradius II: Gofer's Ambition") is a horizontal scrolling shoot em' up developed and published by Konami in the year 1988. It is the sequel to the first Gradius, being released after the spin-offs Salamander and Life-Force. It introduced several concepts that went on to become staples in the Gradius series, such as multiple weapon setups to choose from, high-speed stages and Boss Rushes.

Since then, Gradius II has been ported several times, some of them very closely resemble the Arcade version while others not so much. It was localized under the name Vulcan Venture for international releases in the arcades.

For replay videos, visit the Video Index.

Gameplay Overview

Controls

Gradius II is a 3 buttons game. There are 8 stages and after beating them the player goes back to the first stage, starting on a harder second loop.

  • A button: Equips the slot highlighted in the Power Meter.
  • B button: Fires the player's main weapon.
  • C button: Fires the player's missiles.

Power Meter

GII power meter.png

This is the power up system in the Gradius series. Collecting Power Capsules highlights one slot going from left to right. Grabbing a Power Capsule when the ? slot is highlighted makes the Power Meter roll back to the Speed Up slot. Dying with a Power Capsule not utilized will highlight the Speed Up slot regardless of where it originally was.

Each slot does the following:

Slot Effect
Speed Up
Increases the player's speed. Can be equipped up to 5 times.
Missile
Adds a ground-based projectile.
Double
Adds a secondary shot giving more coverage. Equipping Double replaces Laser in case the player was using it.
Laser
Upgrades the main shot. Higher damaging than both the regular shot and Double. Equipping Laser replaces Double in case the player was using it.
Option
Adds an orange orb that mimics the player's movement and weapons. Can be equipped up to 4 times.
?
Activates a shield that grants protection against bullets and enemies.

Weapon configurations

Type 1
GII type 1.png
Weapon loadout from the original Gradius. Has enough versatility to handle any situation.
  • Missile: Fired downwards and travels across the ground.
  • Double: Secondary shot fired at a 45° angle.
  • Laser: Thin beam that can pierce through enemies, but has a considerable cooldown before being fired again.
Type 2
GII type 2.png
High power, but lacks coverage. Precise option control is needed against enemies blocked by the terrain.
  • Spread Bomb: Explodes upon impact dealing heavy damage.
  • Tail Gun: Secondary shot fired backwards.
  • Laser: Thin beam that can pierce through enemies, but has a considerable cooldown before being fired again.
Type 3
GII type 3.png
Arguably a better version of Type 1.
  • Photon Torpedo: Falls in a straight line and travels across the ground, can pierce through enemies.
  • Double: Secondary shot fired at a 45° angle.
  • Ripple: Becomes wider as it travels across the screen, cannot pierce through enemies.
Type 4
GII type 4.png
Weapon loadout from Salamander. Greatest coverage, recommended for novice and experienced players alike.
  • 2-Way: Two missiles fired up and down, they can't travel through the ground.
  • Tail Gun: Secondary shot fired backwards.
  • Ripple: Becomes wider as it travels across the screen, cannot pierce through enemies.

Shields

GII shield.png Shield
Grants frontal protection against bullets, can withstand several hits.
GII force field.png Force Field
Grants protection from all sides against bullets, can withstand up to 3 hits.

Power Capsules

There are two types of Power Capsules that can be found throughout the game.

GII red power capsule.png Red Power Capsule
Appears upon defeating enemy formations and orange colored enemies. Advances the Power Meter by one slot.
GII blue power capsule.png Blue Power Capsule
Appears after 12 Red Power Capsules. Clears the screen from small enemies and bullets. Does not advance the Power Meter.

Loops

Gradius II loops infinitely. After the first loop, enemies will fire suicide bullets after being destroyed, with the difficulty maxing out at loop 4. Higher loops feature more suicide bullets that spawn with a slight delay, making them harder to predict. The loops also feature some stage changes.

Stage 1

GII stage 2-4.png

The fire dragons spawn more often, have much more health and sometimes extremely long bodies, being able to easily corner the player if not disposed of.

Stage 4

Stage 4 has a significant layout change with almost all of it having erupting volcanoes, making it a very challenging stage.

Strategy

For general gameplay tips and guides see: Gradius II: Gofer no Yabou/Guides
For a breakdown of particularly high-scoring sections see: Gradius II: Gofer no Yabou/Scoring Sections

Development History

Gradius II had a development cycle of about 5 months. Several different weapons were considered for the player to choose from including being able to freely select them akin to the Edit Mode from Gradius III, before settling down on the four preset weapon configurations in the final game. The Moai and Artificial Suns were among the first stages the team created, with the latter being moved to the start of the game as it was considered more visually impactful. Initially, there were only 7 stages in total before the Base and Volcano were added to resemble the first Gradius game more, being the last stages created. The game's location test took place at a game center in Okayama. Many of the game's safe-spots such as during Crystal Core and Covered Core were intentional.[6][7]

Version Differences

There are three versions of Gradius II:

  • gradius2b. Referred to as "Older" version in MAME.
  • gradius2a. Referred to as "Old" version in MAME.
  • gradius2. Referred to as "New" version in MAME.

Extends

  • gradius2b and gradius2a: 20k pts and every 70k pts.
  • gradius2: 20k pts and every 150k pts.

Infinite pattern

gradius2b has an infinite pattern in stage 5 during the jumping moais section. It's possible to stay in a safe-spot milking rings until the moais timeout, who will grant 48,000 points (which is already dangerously close to reaching the extend), allowing the player to gain an extend, die and repeat this process indefinitely for an endless amount of score without needing to ever progress. In gradius2a and gradius2 this is not possible because the moais timing out awards an insignificant 1,600 points.

Two Player Mode glitch

In gradius2b and gradius2a during a Two Player Mode game, if a player finishes the first loop before the other player reaches stage 4 then the game will load the loop 2 version of it when they reach said stage, with the altered layout and enemy placement but without loop 2 features i.e. suicide bullets. In gradius2 this does not happen.

Fixing the infinite pattern and this glitch probably explains why gradius2 is the version used in every rerelease and not the other ones.

Vulcan Venture

An international version released in the same year. Similarly, it has "Oldest", "Old" and "New" versions (ROMset names being vulcanb, vulcana and vulcan respectively). They follow the same fixes as the Gradius II revisions with the exception that the extend thresholds were never changed to the more strict 20k and every 150k.

Renamed weapons

Probably to more closely resemble Nemesis and Life Force, the Ripple and Option weapons were renamed to Pulse and Multiple. The narrator now has different voice clips to match this change.

Gradius II Vulcan Venture
GII type 3.png VV renamed weapons.png

Continue option

Brand new to Vulcan Venture is a continue feature. The player can keep playing unlimited times after a Game Over as long as credits are inserted.

VV continue screen.png

Overview

Version Changes
20k/70k extends 20k/150k extends Infinite pattern Two Player glitch
gradius2b Yes No Yes
gradius2a Yes No Yes
gradius2 No Yes No
vulcanb Yes No Yes
vulcana Yes No Yes
vulcan Yes No

Trivia

  • When reaching 100 lives, an overflow bug causes a Game Over. [8]

Gallery

References & Contributors