Gradius II: Gofer no Yabō (sub-title loosely translated to "Ambition of GOFER", known in the European arcade and NES releases as Vulcan Venture, not to be confused with the MSX game of the same name) is a sci-fi side-scrolling shoot-'em-up developed and released by Konami for arcades in both Japan (on March 1988) and Europe (on May 1988).
The sequel to Konami's 1985 game Gradius, Gradius II puts players back in control of the starfighter Vic Viper two years after the destruction of the Bacterian super-fortress Xaerous. A new Bacterian force, led by the mysterious GOFER, is making their way to the planet Gradius, and Vic Viper is sent to stop them.
The game retains most of the gameplay from the original, with multiple new additions (including the Power Meter Select system, which allows players to choose from multiple power-up configurations prior to playing the game). Some of these additions were carried over from the original game's spin-off Life Force.
Gradius II is notable for not receiving an official release in North America, both in the arcades and in home releases, until the Gradius Collection compilation for the PlayStation Portable 18 years after the original.
Ports & Re-Releases
All three ports were originally released exclusively in Japan.
- The game was first ported to the Family Computer on December 16, 1988. Titled simply as Gradius II, this version was later digitally re-released for the Wii (as a Virtual Console title), also exclusively in Japan, on April 24, 2007.
- It was then ported to the Sharp X68000 on February 7, 1992.
- It was last ported to the PC Engine Super CD-ROM² on December 1, 1992. This version was later digitally re-released for the Wii (as a Virtual Console title) in 2007-2008 (November 2007 in Japan, October 2008 in North America, and May 2008 in Europe).
Compilations & Re-Releases
The original arcade version was included in multiple compilations and digital re-releases:
- It was first bundled with the original Gradius for the Sony PlayStation and Sega Saturn on March 1996 as Gradius DELUXE PACK. It was also released for the PC on Feburary 1997. All versions are Japanese-exclusive.
- It was included in the Gradius Collection (in February 2006 for PlayStation Portable) and Arcade Classics Anniversary Collection (in April 2019 for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, and PC).
- It was digitally re-released for the PlayStation 4 in 2016 (April in Japan, July in North America, August in Europe) as part of HAMSTER's Arcade Archives series.
The Power Meter system from the original Gradius returns, in which players start each life with minimal speed and a basic cannon shot, and can upgrade their ship by collecting Power Capsules to progress through their six-part Power Meter (and then using the Power-Up button to collect the meter's highlighted power-up).
New to the series is the Power Meter Select system, which allows players to choose from four different Power Meter configurations and from two different Shields. All configurations use the same Speed-Up and Multiple/Option power-ups. Instead of the standard Gradius configuration (Missile, Double, Laser), players can optionally choose from the following three:
- Spread Bomb, Tail-Gun, Laser
- Photon Torpedo, Double, Pulse
- 2-Way, Tail-Gun, Pulse
In addition, players can change the original Gradius shields (Shield) for a new version (Force Field) as a separate choice. In the NES version, only the Force Field can be used.
These power-ups are, in Power-Up Level order:
Same as the original, the Speed-Up power-up increases the movement speed of the Vic Viper. This can be activated up to five times to further increase the speed, although higher levels can be very unwieldy.
Allows the Vic Viper to drop missiles that fall downwards on the playfield separately from its main weapon. Four different types are available in this game:
- Missile (Classic) - Missiles that, if they reach a flat surface, move along it until they reach an enemy or a wall.
- Spread Bomb - Missiles that fire in an arc and detonate on impact for damaging explosions.
- Photon Torpedo - Missiles that overpenetrate enemies and, if they reaches a flat surface, move along them until they reach a wall.
- 2-Way - Missiles that split into two from the ship, the second moving upwards in a similar arc.
Improves the Vic Viper's cannon by having it shoot an additional shot. Replaces the Laser power-up. Two different types are available in this game:
- Double (Classic) - Second shot is fired in an upward angle.
- Tail-Gun - Second shot is fired behind the ship.
Replaces the Vic Viper's cannon with a more-powerful laser cannon. Replaces the Double power-up. Two different types are available in this game:
- Laser (Classic) - Thinner beams that can over-penetrate enemies. The version used in the "Spread Bomb" configuration is unique.
- Pulse - Beams that, while weaker than the classic Laser, become very wide over time. Known in Japanese version as Ripple.
Multiple / Option
Same as the original, the Multiple (or, in Japanese versions, Option) creates a ball of energy that follows behind the path of the Vic Viper and fires the same weapons (and missiles, if active) as the ship. In most versions of the game, this can be activated up to four times, each of which creating a new energy ball.
New to the series is a recurring enemy called the "Option Hunter" that can appear sometime after all four Multiples are activated. While it cannot damage the Vic Viper, it instead attempts to steal all of the ship's Multiples. Players are given time to dodge its attack to minimize the amount of Multiples stolen.
Provides a temporary barrier to the Vic Viper that completely negate projectiles in certain directions. These barriers have limited energy and can be destroyed.
This Power-Up is marked with the "?" symbol in the Power Meter.
- Shield (Classic) - Two energy balls that guards the ship's front. More durability, but leaves the ship vulnerable in other directions.
- Force Field - Guards the Vic Viper in all directions. Less durability.