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Nemesis (Arcade)

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Title Screen

Nemesis

Also known as: Gradius (JP)
Developer: Konami
Publisher: Konami
Platform: Arcade (Bubble System (JP), Konami Nemesis system)
Released in JP: May 29, 1985
Released in US: 1985
Released in EU: 1985


EnemyIcon.png This game has unused enemies.
GraphicsIcon.png This game has unused graphics.
MusicIcon.png This game has unused music.
RegionIcon.png This game has regional differences.
Carts.png This game has revisional differences.


Better known by pretty much everyone at this point as Gradius. Your precious Konami Code can't save you now!

Unused Graphics

NemesisArcUnusedEnemy1.gif NemesisArcUnusedBullet.png
This square-shaped robot has what looks like a diamond-shaped pinball flipper. Seems like it could shoot out bullets, maybe? Sounds about right.

NemesisArcUnusedEnemy2.png
Another unused enemy design that kind of looks like a pinball bumper.

Unused Music

ID Track Notes
46
This track isn't actually in the sound test, but it's still in the ROM. It's a happy little tune that doesn't really fit the game's atmosphere too much.
47
This nondescript jingle is #23 in the sound test.

Version Differences

Test Mode Changes Title Screen Starting Lives Support Name Continue Game Flow Difficulty
gradius None No background Original Option No Original Original
nemesis Some Background Original Multiple Yes Altered Altered
nemesisuk All Background Altered Multiple No Altered Original
  • gradius is the original Japanese game. It was released first, naturally. This is known internally as Version A.
  • nemesis is probably the version released in North America. It has a number of coding changes, some of which it shares with nemesisuk. This is known internally as Version D.
  • nemesisuk is assumed (by MAME, anyway) to be a "World" version of the game. This game plays like a hybrid between gradius and nemesis, using the former game's difficulty level with some of nemesis' gameplay and aesthetic changes. This is known internally as Version E.

Test Mode Changes

Gradius Nemesis
NemesisDipSwitchJP.png NemesisDipSwitchNA.png

Text in the test mode screens uses palette 0A in Gradius and palette 00 in Nemesis. It's not clear if this is a bug or some kind of attempt to make the text more readable. If it's the latter, they missed the Demo Sound and Coin A / B dip switch variables.

nemesis nemesisuk
NemesisDipSwitchNA.png NemesisDipSwitchINT.png

In the nemesisuk set, the text "EVERY BONUS", used for subsequent bonus lives, was rewritten to the more accurate "AND THEN EVERY".

Title Screen

Gradius Nemesis
NemesisArcTitleJP.png NemesisArcTitle.png

In addition to the obvious title change from Gradius to Nemesis, the title screen in the overseas version has a background that the Japanese game doesn't.

Game Demo

Each version of the game has a different demo. In Gradius, the demo player starts out with three options and never uses the Speed-Up power, which is maybe not the best way to show off how the game works. Still, it's the only one of these three demos that demonstrates the Double power-up.

The demo ends at the start of the volcano section.

In the nemesis demo, the demo player uses every power-up but Double and Shield. This is also the first demo to show what the blue crash capsule does, and how the Option pods can let the player take shelter while shooting.

The demo ends with the player destroying the Big Core and the Vic Viper. Surely, a tragic ending.

The nemesisuk demo is basically the same as the nemesis demo but with more skilled play. The demo player also gets three Option pods compared to nemesis' two.

The demo ends with the player dying to Big Core's first shot.

Starting Lives

Players start with 3/4/5/7 lives in gradius and nemesis, depending on the how the "Lives" dip switches are set. In nemesisuk, this was changed to 2/3/5/7 lives.

Continue

NemesisArcContinue.png
The nemesis set is the only version with a continue feature. In gradius and nemesisuk, losing your last life means you're dumped back to the title screen.

Note that in nemesisuk, the text for the continue screen is still in the ROM, unused.

Support Name

Gradius Nemesis
NemesisArcOption.png NemesisArcMultiple.png

The orange orbs that follow and fire with the ship are called Options in Gradius and Multiples in Nemesis.

Game Flow Changes

Changes that make the boss fight portion of each stage take less time.

  • The volcanic eruption at the end of stage 1 lasts 1024 frames in Gradius, but just 512 frames in Nemesis.
In Gradius, the volcanoes will first erupt slowly, then speed up every 128 frames. Max speed is reached at 512 frames.
In Nemesis, they will erupt just once at the slowest speed before immediately switching to the fastest speed.
  • The enemy rushes in stages 3 and 4 last 1004 frames in Gradius and 768 frames in Nemesis.
  • At the end of stage 5, it takes 1016 frames for the boss to show up in Gradius. This wait was completely removed from Nemesis.
  • At the end of stage 6, the boss barrier will self-destruct after 260 frames in Gradius. This is just 10 frames in Nemesis.
  • The final boss self-destructs in 688 frames in Gradius and 656 frames in Nemesis.

Difficulty Changes

The actual game difficulty is calculated through the following formula: (TimerVar + LevelNum + BonusVar + OptionsNum + DipVar) / 2. This value is capped at 0F.

  • TimerVar is the amount of time lapsed since the player's last death. In the original sets, this increments every 1000 frames. In nemesis, it will increment every 768/608/512/384 frames, depending on the value of the difficulty dip switches.
  • LevelNum is how many levels the player has completed. In the original sets, this value is multiplied by 3 for calculation's sake, while nemesis just uses the raw value.
  • BonusVar adds difficulty based on the power-ups the player has collected. Like the TimerVar, these values are static in the original sets and vary with the difficulty dip switches in nemesis:
  • If the player has the Missile upgrade, add 2 in the original sets and 1/2/2/3 in nemesis.
  • If the player has four Options, add 2 in the original sets and 1/2/2/3 in nemesis.
  • If the player has the Laser upgrade, add 4 in the original sets and 3/3/3/4 in nemesis.
  • If the player has the Shield upgrade, add 4 in the original sets and 4/7/8/10 in nemesis.
  • OptionsNum is the number of Option ships the player has, multiplied by 2 in the original sets and by 2/3/4/5 in nemesis.
  • DipVar is the numerical value of the difficulty dip switches.
  • In the original sets, Easy is 0, Normal is 2, Hard is 4, and Very Hard is 6.
  • In the nemesis set, Easy is 0, Normal is 4, Hard is 8, and Very Hard is 10.

Both TimerVar, BonusVar, and OptionsNum reset to 00 at the start of each game loop.


Fan bullet speeds
Note that there are four different Fan subtypes: One that never attacks, one that only attacks if the difficulty is greater than 07, one that only attacks if it's greater than 0B, and one that always attacks. They all use the same bullet speed table, they just have different jumping-on points.

NemesisArcFan.png
Difficulty Value
00 01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 0A 0B 0C 0D 0E 0F
Original 1.000 1.000 1.000 1.125 1.250 1.375 1.375 1.375 1.625 1.375 1.500 1.750 2.250 1.625 2.375 2.375
Altered 1.000 1.000 1.000 1.125 1.375 1.500 1.750 2.000 2.250 2.250 2.500 2.500 2.750 3.000 3.000 3.375

Dee-01 bullet speeds and firing delay
If difficulty > 07, Dee-01 will fire 2 shots in a row; If difficulty > 0B, Dee-01 will fire 3 shots. The delays listed here apply after the last shot is fired.

NemesisArcDee01.png
Difficulty Value
00 01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 0A 0B 0C 0D 0E 0F
Original 1.125
112 frames
1.125
104 frames
1.125
96 frames
1.250
88 frames
1.375
88 frames
1.500
84 frames
1.500
84 frames
1.500
80 frames
1.750
72 frames
1.625
84 frames
1.750
72 frames
1.625
80 frames
2.250
64 frames
2.125
64 frames
1.750
64 frames
2.375
64 frames
Altered 1.125
104 frames
1.125
96 frames
1.125
88 frames
1.250
88 frames
1.500
64 frames
1.500
56 frames
1.500
48 frames
1.750
40 frames
1.750
40 frames
2.000
32 frames
2.000
32 frames
2.000
24 frames
2.000
20 frames
2.000
20 frames
2.250
16 frames
2.250
12 frames

Jumper bullet-spread counts

NemesisArcJumper.png
Difficulty Value
00 01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 0A 0B 0C 0D 0E 0F
Original 3 3 3 3 4 4 4 4 4 3 4 4 4 9 9 9
Altered 3 3 3 3 4 4 4 4 4 3 4 4 4 4 4 9

Hatch-type enemy spawn counts

NemesisArcHatch.png
Difficulty Value
00 01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 0A 0B 0C 0D 0E 0F
Original 3 3 4 3 5 6 7 7 8 8 10 7 10 7 10 10
Altered 3 3 4 6 7 6 7 8 9 8 10 9 10 9 10 10

Beans bullet speeds

NemesisArcBeans.png
Difficulty Value
00 01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 0A 0B 0C 0D 0E 0F
Original 1.125 1.125 1.125 1.250 1.250 1.250 1.375 1.750 1.375 1.625 1.375 1.875 1.625 2.125 2.125 2.375
Altered 1.125 1.125 1.125 1.250 1.250 1.125 1.125 1.125 1.125 1.250 1.250 1.250 1.500 1.750 2.000 2.000

Mother fire delays & spawn counts

NemesisArcMother.png
Difficulty Value
00 01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 0A 0B 0C 0D 0E 0F
Original 64 frames
2x Child
60 frames
2x Child
58 frames
2x Child
56 frames
3x Child
56 frames
3x Child
52 frames
3x Child
56 frames
4x Child
48 frames
4x Child
40 frames
4x Child
44 frames
4x Child
48 frames
5x Child
44 frames
5x Child
56 frames
6x Child
48 frames
6x Child
36 frames
7x Child
32 frames
8x Child
Altered 64 frames
4x Child
60 frames
4x Child
58 frames
4x Child
56 frames
5x Child
52 frames
5x Child
52 frames
5x Child
48 frames
6x Child
48 frames
6x Child
40 frames
7x Child
44 frames
7x Child
48 frames
8x Child
44 frames
8x Child
44 frames
8x Child
40 frames
8x Child
32 frames
8x Child
32 frames
8x Child

Laser cannon / Big Core laser speeds (Measured in pixels per frame)

NemesisArcLasers.png
Difficulty Value
00 01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 0A 0B 0C 0D 0E 0F
Original 2.00 2.00 2.00 2.25 2.25 2.75 2.75 2.75 3.25 2.75 3.00 3.50 4.50 3.25 4.75 4.75
Altered 2.00 2.00 2.00 2.25 2.75 3.00 3.50 4.00 4.50 4.50 5.00 5.00 5.50 6.00 6.00 6.75

Bonus Life Settings
The score thresholds for extra lives are higher in nemesis:

Bonus Life Dip Switch Setting
Easiest Easy Hard Hardest
Original 20,000
Every 70,000
30,000
Every 80,000
20,000 only 30,000 only
Altered 50,000
Every 100,000
30,000 only 50,000 only 100,000 only

Enemy Layout Changes
There are a few changes in enemy placement in Stages 1 to 3.

Original Altered
NemesisArcStage11INT.png NemesisArcStage11NA.png

At the start of the main area of Stage 1, there's an extra Uros enemy on the ceiling.

Original Altered
NemesisArcStage12INT.png NemesisArcStage12NA.png

Three extra Ducker enemies are on the ceiling in the middle of Stage 1.

Original Altered
NemesisArcStage2INT.png NemesisArcStage2NA.png

The last enemy section before the large rock wall in Stage 2 has nine green and seven red Dee-01 enemies in the original game. nemesis removes two of the red Dee-01s, meaning there's less opportunity for power-ups, adds three more green Dee-01s, and places more of them at the bottom of the area.

Original Altered
NemesisArcStage31INT.png NemesisArcStage31NA.png

The very start of Stage 3 is much more populated in nemesis, with three orange and four normal Garun ships. Three of the four Garun enemies on the right were removed, and the remaining one was repositioned.

Original Altered
NemesisArcStage32INT.png NemesisArcStage32NA.png

Two more Mother enemies were added to this area in nemesis, bringing the grand total up to three. The last three Garuns were deleted.