Gradius Cheats & Cheat Codes for Nintendo and PC

Gradius main menu

Gradius Cheats & Cheat Codes for Nintendo and PC

Gradius, also known as Nemesis, is a 1985 side-scrolling shooter video game originally released as a coin-operated arcade game. Konami developed and published the original arcade version of Gradius, but once Konami realized how popular the game was, they quickly ported it to home consoles. One year after the arcade game’s release, in 1986, Gradius came to at-home systems like the Famicom/NES, the MSX home computer, and the PC Engine. Gradius was released in Japan in April and North America in December. Two years later, in November 1988, Gradius finally got a European release.

Over the years, the original home release of Gradius has been ported to newer systems. The Gradius Deluxe Pack supported the game for the original PlayStation, Microsoft Windows, and the Sega Saturn. PlayStation Portable also has its own Gradius Collection. Today, modern gamers can find Gradius in the Arcade Classics Anniversary Collection on Steam, the PlayStation store, the Xbox store, and the Nintendo eShop. Across the various platforms, the price ranges from $3.99 to $19.99. If players don’t want to pay for the collection, they can also find an online version of Gradius on Retrogames.cz. Retrogames allows players to play games right on their internet browser with no payment or download required. This website is great for many classic games, including Streets of Rage 3 and EarthBound.

When Gradius first came out, the arcade game was one of the top-grossing arcade units of the year. The home release was just as successful. In 1986, it sold over a million copies in Japan alone. Gradius received high praise for its gameplay and power-up system. Gradius and Xevious, a 1982 Namco scrolling shooter arcade video game, are considered two of the most impactful shooting games of all time. Without the success and recognition of these two games, the genre may never have evolved to what it is today.

Gradius Premise

Since Gradius was originally released as a coin-operated arcade game, there wasn’t much time for a complex plot or character development. These types of arcade games were designed to earn quick money from players and offer a thrilling, quick-paced experience. This didn’t leave room for long and detailed cutscenes, bonding with the main character, and sometimes these games didn’t even have a strong plot.

Gradius is one such game because it focuses entirely on the gameplay. Players control a trans-dimensional spaceship called the Vic Viper. They don’t even control an actual character. It can be argued that they’re playing as the Vic Viper’s pilot, but the spaceship is the focal point on the screen. While controlling the Vic Viper, players will be assaulted by waves of enemies that they need to avoid and battle without taking enough damage to die.

The phrase “Destroy the core!” comes from Gradius because most boss battles feature a spacecraft that has several blue spheres (cores) at the center. The player needs to follow a passage from the exterior of the craft to one of the cores. As they approach, they need to destroy the core, which will turn from blue to red to indicate it’s taken critical damage. The passageways that lead to each core are filled with enemies that the player needs to avoid while destroying breakable walls and obstacles to get a clear shot on the cores. Some bosses can regenerate their protection, which will force players to tear them down over and over again until the core turns red. Gradius features organic bosses too. Instead of cores, these organisms will feature different weak points the player needs to hit, like eyes.

At the beginning of the game, the Vic Viper is unimpressive, to say the least. The spaceship is slow and only has one weak gun. One of the aspects of Gradius that received so much praise is how players upgrade the Vic Viper. Players can collect power-up items to increase the Vic Viper’s performance. At the time, most games had different types of power-ups, but Gradius only had one power-up item type that could be collected. Players could choose which aspect of the ship they put the upgrade in, giving them control over how they buffed up the Vic Viper. This created a more immersive and personalized experience.

Gradius Main Characters

Gradius' Vic Viper

©FCPlaythroughs / Konami – License

As mentioned, Gradius doesn’t really feature a heavy plot or any characters. Players control the Vic Viper, a trans-dimensional spaceship. With control of the Vic Viper, players have to evade, fight, and defeat hoards of enemy spacecrafts and organic enemies. The Vic Viper will engage in boss battles where the player needs to destroy all of the boss’s cores. Players never meet the pilot of the Vic Viper, though. They are simply playing as the Vic Viper ship.

Gradius Titles in the Series

Gradius 1985 is the first game in the Gradius series, but its success created an entire franchise. The franchise includes many main games and spin-off games. It also features many music albums, print media, and merchandise. The Gradius franchise even includes some video media, like 1988’s three-volume OVA series based on Salamander.

Main Gradius Video Games:

  • Gradius (1985) – This game was released under the title Nemesis in some regions. Sometimes, Gradius is still referred to as Nemesis, but most modern renditions have gone back to the original name.
  • Salamander (1986)
  • Gradius 2 (1987)
  • Gradius II (1988)
  • Nemesis 3: The Eve of Destruction (1989)
  • Gradius III (1989)
  • Nemesis – Nintendo Game Boy version (1990)
  • Gradius: The Interstellar Assault (1991)
  • Salamander 2 (1996)
  • Gradius Gaiden (1997)
  • Gradius IV (1999)
  • Gradius Galaxies (2001)
  • Gradius V (2004)
  • Gradius NEO (2004)
  • Gradius NEO Imperial (2004)
  • Gradius ReBirth (2008)

Spin-Off Gradius Video Games:

  • Falsion (1987)
  • Parodius (1988)
  • Piccadilly Gradius (1989)
  • Cosmic Wars (1989)
  • Parodius Da! (1990)
  • Fantastic Parodius (1994)
  • Jikkyō Oshaberi Parodius (1995)
  • Sexy Parodius (1996)
  • Paro Wars (1997)
  • Solar Assault (1997)
  • Little Pirates (1998)
  • CR Parodius Da! (2000)
  • CR Saikoro Tin Douty (2004)
  • CR Gokujo Parodius (2006)
  • Otomedius (2007)
  • Gradius Arc: Legend of the Silver Wings (2010)
  • Gokuraku Parodius (2010)
  • Otomedius Excellent (2011)
  • Gradius: The Slot (2011)

Gradius Compilations & Collections:

  • Gokujō Parodius Da! Deluxe Pack (1994) – PlayStation, Sega Saturn
  • Gradius Deluxe Pack (1996) – PlayStation, Sega Saturn, Windows
  • Salamander Deluxe Pack Plus (1997) – PlayStation, Sega Saturn
  • Konami GB Collection (1997, 2000) – Game Boy, Game Boy Color
  • Gradius III and IV (2000) – PlayStation 2
  • Gradius Collection (2006) – PlayStation Portable
  • Parodius Portable (2007) – PlayStation Portable
  • Salamander Portable (2007) – PlayStation Portable

Gradius has also been included in other collections over the years that bundle it with other classic games. These types of bundles include the Arcade Classics Anniversary Collection which is still available on PlayStation, Xbox, Steam, and the Nintendo Switch.

Gradius Cheats, Cheat Codes, & Commands

Gradius gameplay

©FCPlaythroughs / Konami – License

It wasn’t uncommon for classic games that came out in the 80s and 90s to have built-in cheat codes to make completing it easier. Many retro games have this mechanic so the player can get more lives, immortality, or some other game-breaking abilities. Gradius also has several cheat codes that make the game easier to complete in one sitting.

It is important to keep in mind that Gradius came out in the mid-80s and has been released and re-released across many platforms. Just because these codes used to work doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll work now. With that disclaimer, players should still find some use in them regardless of what system they’re on. This guide will focus on NES cheats and commands since most modern recreations are a re-release of the NES version specifically.

Cheat Codes & Other Commands for Gradius (NES)

Sound Test:

  • Open the game and stay on the title screen
  • Hold A+B and press START
  • This opens a sub-menu that gives the player access to tracks and SFX
  • This Sound Test option works with other Konami games too

Start With 30 Lives:

  • Go to the title screen

Acquire Speed Up, Missiles, 2 Options, and a Barrier:

  • Players can activate this once per level

Unlimited Continues:

  • When the player receives a Game Over, don’t leave the screen
  • While on the Game Over screen enter: DOWN, UP, B, A, B, A, B, A, START
  • The player can use this anytime they get a Game Over

Level Skips:

  • At the end of each level, players will see a ship
  • Players have 5 seconds to destroy the ship
  • This is incredibly difficult, but if they manage it, they’ll get a warp and jump to the level after the ship
  • There is no ship at the end of the final level because there is nothing to warp to

Gradius Cheats FAQs

What is the Konami cheat code in Gradius?

The Konami cheat code is a universal cheat code that Konami used to build into all of its games. The Konami code is: UP, UP, DOWN, DOWN, LEFT, RIGHT, LEFT, RIGHT, B, A

This code works in most of the Gradius series. In the original Gradius game, the code will give the player all powerups except for Speed Up, Double, and Laser.

Pause the game and enter the code with the game paused.

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