Sorry about the delay! The last few weeks have been a little rough on me, but we’re back with Nemesis! This is a fun side-scrolling shooter. It’s a version of Gradius, released for the Game Boy. It’s in a separate series that spun off from Gradius. While I’m not fond of the Gradius series as much as others, they’re still fun games. This installment does a great job bringing a solid shooter to a portable console.
The game was made in 1990 by Konami when they cared about video games. It was released in North America in April 1990 and Europe in 1992. I’m not sure why, but Konami used their Ultra Games label to publish it outside Japan. This might have had something to do with their licensing agreement with Nintendo. I know publishers were limited to a few games on the NES, and they created shell companies to get around it, but I wasn’t sure if it included the Game Boy. It just seems odd to me, even if it doesn’t matter anymore.
The gameplay is straightforward, which works well for this genre and the Game Boy. I’m not too fond of it when developers try to get too fancy with something like a side-scrolling shooter. You have a button for shooting, a button to upgrade your ship’s weapons, and the D-pad moves you around.
You play as a ship and blast other ships while movie to the right. The enemy ships will drop either power-ups or screen-clearing bombs. I didn’t find the bombs all that useful because they get used as soon as you pick them up, and they never showed up when I needed one! On the other hand, power-ups are everywhere, and you need a lot of them to upgrade your weapons.
The way the weapon upgrades work is simple. You have a power-up meter on the bottom of the screen. As you collect more power-ups, your meter fills up. You can use the power-ups to improve your weapons by getting missiles, a diagonal upward shot, weapon pods, lasers, and a forward shield. I like the way it works, and it’s easy to use once you figure it out. It didn’t take me too long to get the hang of it.
The game looks good for a Game Boy game. I don’t like to knock these games if they look like handheld games. They aren’t going to look as good as games on the console, but they look much better than the Tiger Electronics games. That’s my range of visual comparisons. They have good graphics if they look better than a calculator or a Tiger game. With Nemesis, I think it looks like a Game Boy game. It’s not great, and it’s not bad.
I don’t think there is a story in this game or in the Gradius series and spin-off series, which makes sense to me. You didn’t need to know why the enemies were evil in games from this era. If they were trying to kill you, then you had to kill them. Maybe I should say shoot them. We could have a G.I. Joe kind of thing going on where the enemies jump out of the ship before it blows up. Regardless, Nemesis doesn’t have a story as far as I can tell.
Nemesis is a challenging game. This adds to the game’s replayability. You want to try and do better than the last time. Especially if you’re bad at shooters, and I’m bad at them! It’s one of those strange things where I like playing them even if I’m not very good at them. I found the game to be fun, though. It was one of those challenging games to make you keep playing. It’s something I like about this genre. The games that get it right are fantastic!
There are a bunch of other games like this on the Game Boy. You had ports of Galaga, Asteroids, F-15 Strike Eagle, and other arcade shooters. There were also arcade packs released on the Game Boy as well. Games like Nemesis are all over the place. Some are better than others.
The only thing I don’t like about the game, and many other shooters, is how they have one-hit deaths. It makes sense for an arcade game to do this because they are trying to get your quarters. I think it gets in the way of playing the game on a home console or a handheld. I would have liked for there to be a health bar or something like that. It’s one of the weird things I don’t like about the early shooters and other games ported from the arcades.
Nemesis is a fun game for the time. It’s worth going back and playing for a bit if you are a fan of shooters. If you’re not a fan of the genre or the Gradius series, you can pass on this game.