Day Two: Gradius

A dozen years ago, a bunch of game developers and designers fell out of love with Konami. Instead of erasing those memories, they decided to leave it be and went on to form their own company. Treasure was born.

Outside of Konami, Treasure went on to create Gunstar Heroes, Guardian Heroes, Radiant Silvergun, and Ikaruga. Most recently, they were hired by Nintendo and SEGA to make Wario World and Astroboy, respectively. At this very moment, some Treasure members are working on the final touches for the oft-delayed Gradius V — for Konami. Treasure is the closed circle!

Before their make-up and before their divorce, there was the original Gradius: one of the definitive horizontal shooters (next to R-Type, of course). The NES version was my first and only contact with the game; I sucked at it. Sure, you can’t expect the universe to be saved by a seven year old, but that doesn’t stop it from being frustrating. And oh how frustrating it was.

At that age, I managed to get past the third stage (those cursed Moai heads!) a handful of times. The fourth stage was as far as I’d ever manage to get. Normally, this wouldn’t have been such a big deal where it not for the fact that my mother — yes, my mother — could play Gradius and progress a hell of a lot farther than I ever could. My budding gamer pride was humbled.

Like for every seven year old, my attention was soon focused elsewhere. I moved on.

Years later, during the mid-life of the SNES, I grew strangely nostalgic. I dug out the old, dusty Nintendo. Grabbed a few carts. Plugged in Gradius, jiggled the cartridge around a bit, got it working, and started blasting away. On that day, I made it past the fourth stage, the fifth stage, and every other stage. I was in the zone. The game was finally conquered! I felt relieved. I felt vindicated. I felt disappointed.

The reward was anti-climactic (a norm for the NES), general 8-bit “Congratulations”. Then I was thrown into another loop of the game. That was enough for me, I had already accomplished what I set out to achieve. I shut the NES down, took out the cart and never played it again. Never had the chance to. Months later, I sold my NES and all my games (stupid STUPID move! I so regret it. It’s why I never sell my games anymore.)

So I wait for Gradius V, hoping that it will be the reward that I never did get.

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