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31 Bonus Levels of Christmas
Legend of the Mystical Ninja: Gradius (Level 1)
By Cyril Lachel     |   Posted on December 19, 2010   |   Episode 25 (Show Archive)  

   

It's that time of year again, a time when Defunct Games celebrates the holidays by posting a daily theme article that should inform and delight gamers all over the world. This year we're taking a look at 31 of the best-known bonus stages in all of video games. Each day we're going to look at a different level and review it, while also trying to figure out what makes it tick. Join us as we post a new episode of the 31 Bonus Levels of Christmas every day leading up to the biggest holiday of the year!
The Legend of the Mystical Ninja:
Gradius (Level 1)
[ Console: Super NES | Year: 1991 | Grade: B+ ]

What, no Castlevania?
The Context: Although popular in Japan, the Goemon series never took off in the States. The Legend of the Mystical Ninja was one of Konami's first stabs at bringing it to the West. It was a moderate success that received generous (though not stellar) scores from the critics. When not battling ninjas and exploring the world, our heroes can visit the local arcade and purchase the ability to play one of the greatest 2D shooters of all time. For a few minutes confused gamers could ignore the impenetrable Eastern sense of humor and be reminded that Gradius is a great game.

The Rules: Players are given the opportunity to play through a remixed version of Gradius. This bonus game includes the first level, complete with slightly upgraded graphics

This mini-game may look better than the NES version, but at least the 8-bit port has more than one level!
and sound. Once done the player is booted out to the arcade, where he can go on with the excitement of being a mystical ninja. There are no points earned for playing Gradius, just a good time had by anybody who loves a good 2D shooter.

The Verdict: While some might argue that, strictly speaking, this is not a bonus level. If anything, this is an unlockable, since the player is forced to pay for the privilege of playing Gradius. Still, I wanted to include at least one example of this phenomenon, and this mini-game is one of the best reasons to own Legend of the Mystical Ninja. I love the upgraded tunes; it makes it feel like Konami

I doubt that even dinosaurs could have warmed the U.S. up to Goemon!
put a little work into the production. The graphics are also sharp, especially when compared to the NES port. Even if it's not a bonus level, I still give Konami credit for offering this unique stage.

Completely Missing the Point: It's a shame that Konami didn't take this opportunity to pimp out the first level of Gradius III. While I love the original Gradius, this would have been the perfect time to work in an advertisement for a current release. Konami would have been considered true visionaries. It would have changed everything. Instead we get the original Gradius, a wonderful game that is a lot of fun to play (even now). This is why Konami should be working on time travel technology.
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