Gradius III (Arcade)
The first two Gradius games were difficult enough, but Gradius III goes out of its way by making its stages more hair-pullingly hard than ever before. There are no continues either, as no "easier" localized version was released overseas (well, not completely) as the previous entries. So don't think you can just money your way out of this one.
There are eight unused Edit Mode power-up icons in the game ROM. Unfortunately, none of them seem to have been properly coded, so the icons are all that's left of them.
Nemesis 3 (MSX)
|Would home in on enemies, naturally. This is the only unused power-up that has unique graphics in the ROM:|
|N/A||This would drop floating mines behind the player ship instead of missiles. A similar concept was used ten years later in Gradius IV.|
|N/A||Standard three-way shot. This could be an early version of the Spread Gun (which can be upgraded to a three-way shot) or an entirely different power-up.
Since there's no telling exactly how the three-way shot would work, an icon can't be properly constructed.
|Nemesis 3 (MSX)||Options would surround the ship in an arrow formation. This was later implemented in the SNES port.
There don't seem to be any graphics for this icon left in the game besides the name of the power-up.
|Nemesis 2 (MSX)
Nemesis 3 (MSX)
|This would make Options rotate counterclockwise around the ship. Another power-up that made its way into the SNES version.|
|N/A||The shield in the icon looks larger than the normal Force Field graphic. Maybe you'd be able to stack multiple fields?|
|N/A||The last unused power-up that was later added to the SNES port. The shields rotate. Whoa.|
|N/A||An interesting concept that never made it to any Gradius game; These Shields would actively home in and destroy enemy bullets.|
|This design is used in the game, but the used version lazily spins and floats around the screen. This unused variant looks like it would actually go after the player.|
|Again, this design is used, but the version used in the final game flips horizontally, not vertically.|
|A new design for the "Zub" enemies that appear in large numbers. The final game reuses the design from Gradius II.|
|A typical vertically-flipping enemy design.|
|There's an enemy in the final game that flies in from the right, opens up to shoot at the player, then flies away. This looks like a similar enemy, but it would just start floating around instead of firing anything.|
|Very similar to a used enemy; The only notable difference is that the bullet hatch splits open instead of retracting.|
|This looks like an organic version of the ubiquitous Hopper enemies. This design actually appears in the ROM of Salamander, minus the shooting animation, but it wasn't used there, either!|
|This scrapped enemy design starts out looking like a bullet before transforming into a ship. Kinda cool.|
|Looks like an alternate design for the large enemies that give the player power-ups before the boss rush starts.|
|In the final game, there are two different enemies that come out of the silver hatches in the final stage. This third enemy design was the one left one that didn't make the cut.|
|Having a relatively impressive eighteen frame animation count wasn't enough to keep this spider beetle-looking thing in the final version.|
Enemies from previous Gradius games and spin-offs. Most of the graphics are ripped directly from those games, and it's not clear whether or not they were actually intended to be used in the game. The only exception is the small Moai head from Life Force JP, which has new graphics and was likely meant to appear somewhere in the game proper.
|Salamander / Life Force (INT)|
|Life Force (JP)|
The blue screen-clearing power capsules seen in previous Gradius games are conspicuously absent in this one, they did make it into the SNES port, albeit using the same design as the power capsules instead of two separate sprites for each.
Small and large boulders, likely meant to be used in Stage 3's digging section. Even though they both have special falling animations, the final game still uses the same rock design used everywhere else in the stage. That design isn't even animated!
Rock pillars of varying thickness. Could have made good obstacles in the underground section; Maybe they could have dropped down from the ceiling or jutted up from the floor or something. No such luck, though.
A whole mess of crystals. Similar, less-detailed crystals appear in Gradius II's third stage as destructible objects. At one point in development, the Crystal Maze might have been more closely based on the Gradius II's Crystal stage.
The ships from the first Gradius and Salamander are in the ROM. The Gradius ship uses the default ship palette, while the Salamander ship actually has a custom palette loading during the Salamander stage (Palette 16) that's not used by any other object in the game.
It's plausible that in the Gradius and Salamander stages, those ships would be used in place of the standard Vic Viper design. It would certainly explain why the player loses all of their power-ups after being transported to either stage.
The volcanic rocks used in the first Gradius games. Uses palette 1B in the Gradius stage which, again, isn't used by any other object. The developers might have originally planned to keep the volcanic eruption that prefaced the Big Core boss fight in the original game.
Small and large blue plasma balls in the same style as the energy balls shot out by Bacterion at the end of the game. It's possible that he was mean to actually attack the player, but given the history of Gradius games' final bosses being completely ineffectual, this was likely meant to be used by some other boss.
In the previous international releases of Gradius and Gradius II, the "Option" power-up was renamed to "Multiple". Since this game was never released in Europe or North America, this graphic was never used. But oddly enough, this game's announcer always says Multiple when selecting the power-up...
In Gradius II, players could enter their gender and age in the high score table. This feature was taken out of Gradius III and instead used the differently-gendered heads from Gradius I, but the differently-aged heads are still in the ROM.
This lion enemy is used in Stage 1, the Desert level. However, Stage 7, the Fire stage, has an unused palette that matches up with the lion design perfectly. Considering that the dragon enemy is used in both Stage 1 and Stage 7, they might have planned to reuse this enemy as well.
While the Crystal Maze stage in the final game only uses blue crystals, there are palettes for at least four other colors. The cubes on the left are the sprite-based cubes, while the cubes on the right are the tile-based cubes.
|Palette 1D||Palette 1E|
The small vines that the Choking Weed sucks up actually use the wrong palette! Palette 1D is used by the Choking Weed's bulb, while palette 1E is totally unused in-game and fits the vine graphic a lot better.
The IDs listed here are internal track IDs and don't match up the ones used in the game's sound test.
|90||This is the dogfight theme from the original Gradius. The Gradius stage starts right after the dogfight section of the original Stage 1, so it never plays.|
|94||This is the theme from the High Speed stage in Gradius II. There was originally going to be a High Speed stage where the path was created by debris and other junk flying at you as went along; This idea developed into the Crystal Maze stage seen in the final game. Another High Speed stage was added in the SNES version but in the style of GII's and with its own theme.|
|A1||The original ranking theme. According to the game's sound director, this was rejected for being "too short and too bright."|
The Japanese version goes through a pictorial history of the Gradius series (The arcade games, anyway) before transitioning to the title screen. In all other sets, the game immediately transitions to the title screen.
The actual title screen sequence is the same length in all versions, leading to an odd experience in non-Japanese sets where the game just stays on a static image for more than a minute before the music ends.
All non-Japanese sets delete the game's subtitle, 伝説から神話ヘ ("From Legend to Myth").
Beginner Course & Difficulty Between Regions
The Japanese set has an additional mode select before the Weapon Select screen. The option on the left is the normal game, while the option on the right is a special beginner mode that ends after Stage 3. Another thing that differentiates them the most apart from the limited stages to be played, is that when the player dies in the beginner mode, they gradually lose whatever power-up they have equipped with each death as opposed to the series' traditional die-and-have-nothing that is also present in the normal mode.
Despite the fact that the non-Japanese sets don't have this selection and the player is thrown into the full game directly, the gradual power-up losing routine from the Japanese's beginner mode is actually present in them and is in it throughout the whole game! So in a way, the non-Japanese versions can "slightly" (big emphasis on that word) be considered the easier versions of this hellish-ly hard mess of a game.
Ends after 3 stages.
You've cleared the beginner course.
But the world of Gradius is much more
than just that. Now try challenging
yourself with the technical course!!
We pray for your success...
|The Gradius series|
|Arcade||Nemesis • Vulcan Venture • Gradius III|
|NES||Gradius • Gradius II|
|Game Boy||Gradius: The Interstellar Assault|
|Sharp X68000||Gradius II: Gofer no Yabou|
|Sega Saturn||Gradius Deluxe Pack|
|PlayStation||Gradius Deluxe Pack|