Game Boy

Review by Will Matson



Graphics: 8

Sound: 8

Gameplay: 9

Overall: 8

Nemesis is one of the earliest games released for Gameboy and part of the long-running Gradius series by Konami (although Ultra receives credit here). This is an original game with original levels although the whole layout is very similar to the original Gradius on the NES. Even though Nemesis is in black and white, the game is very well done and definitely one of the best games released on the original Gameboy.

The graphics are classic Gradius, everything is clear and easy to see. There isn't much flicker or slowdown like some Gameboy titles (and also some Gradius titles), particularly the early ones, were known for. Overall, it was very easy on my eyes and should be on yours, too. There's not much else to say, if you played the NES original, what you saw there is close to what you will get here.

Some of the music and sound effects have also been lifted from the NES game, although some seem to be Gameboy specific. The Gameboy has no trouble reproducing the classic themes that are repeated here. Again, there isn't much to add, if you played Gradius on the NES, this will be familiar territory. This game sounds excellent, especially for an early Gameboy title.

The gameplay is top-notch here. A lot of the enemies from Gradius will be seen here. The levels may look similar and be laid out similar but they aren't a carbon copy of Gradius, just based on it. Like Gradius, and unlike the later installment Life Force, in Nemesis if your ship is destroyed you will be sent back to a previous area to resume play with your next ship. In Life Force, if your ship was destroyed, it reappeared right on the screen and you would continue playing uninterrupted. This makes Nemesis (and Gradius) a challenge to complete, more so than Life Force. Also, like Gradius, the levels are only horizontally scrolling, there are no vertically scrolling levels (as seen in Life Force).

For those unfamiliar with Gradius, I will give you a quick synopsis as it matches the 'plot' of Nemesis. This is a space shooter consisting of a series of levels with challenging enemies throughout. As you defeat certain enemies, you collect pods which can be exchanged for power-ups (such as lasers, ghost ships, ground missiles, etc.) with the push of a button. For those familiar with Gradius, don't dismiss this game as Gradius-lite. It still packs a challenge almost equal to Gradius. The enemies in later levels are still murder if you have a ship with no power-ups and a single gun. You will still likely lose several lives in frustration trying to get through the game. Oh yeah, the Easter Island heads are here, too, and they are as tough as ever.

One unique feature of the game that I liked was the options screen presented before the game begins. On the options screen, you can choose what level (1-5) that you want to start on, the difficulty level (1 or 2), number of lives you start with (1-99) and also whether or not you want to have automatic rapid fire (just hold the button as opposed to repeated pushing) or not. Despite that the original Gameboy lacks a powerful processor, in Nemesis when the speed of your ship is maxed out, it still moves along pretty fast, comparable to Gradius. Nemesis features five fairly long levels, which is pretty good compared to other early Gameboy games based on NES titles at the time (most early Gameboy games only had four levels, for instance Super Mario Land only had four worlds while the NES installments each had 7-8).

Some may disagree with the decision to put in the options screen but I don't, in fact I like the idea. This does make the game more accessible to younger gamers who may take many tries to get through one level. This idea also defeats any frustration that may result from not wanting to play through the earlier levels over and over again. The only drawback to starting on a later level is that your score may be lower when you finish the game. If you are to play all the levels straight through, without continuing, while shooting most of the enemies, you should have no trouble clearing 100,000 points.

Overall, this is another quality game in the Gradius series and a unique one. Anyone who is a fan of the Gradius series should get this game. If you haven't tried out any games in the series but do own a Gameboy, what are you waiting for? If you never liked the Gradius series, however, this game won't change your mind. It was sort of overshadowed by Gradius III for the Super Nintendo and also its follow-up on Gameboy a short time later titled, "Gradius: Interstellar Assault." Recently, another all-new Gradius game was released for Gameboy Advance.

For those of you still stuck in Nemesis, the classic Konami code works here. Pause the game then press, 'Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right, B, A then Start.' Like in the original Gradius, when you unpause the game, you should be fully powered up, a trick that works only once each level. Another tip is that although lasers may be tempting, the better power-up is the double gun powerup in which shots are fired not only straight ahead of your ship but also above your ship at an angle. You may lose the firepower of the laser but you end up covering a lot more area with your shots and nailing hard to reach enemies that otherwise would take a lot more effort to shoot. Believe me, it saves lives and time this way.


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Last updated: Wednesday, December 10, 2003 02:29 PM