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  • The notorious Gradius III (Arcade) cleared on one credit...on Very Difficult.
  • Any time a player dies and successfully recovers out of a very difficult section, due to the game using checkpoints and penalizing the player of all of their powerups upon death. It's arguably more impressive than someone simply clearing the game with no deaths, as the Gradius series is basically the poster child for Unstable Equilibrium in the shoot-em-up genre.
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  • The sheer size of Zelos alone deserves mention. The Japanese Lifeforce arcade and the NES game of the same name differ considerably, but have the same story about flying inside the entity to take it out. Most of the arcade game looks like the inside of a body, appropriately enough. That's Big. The NES version however claims that Zelos has consumed entire galaxies at once, and that stars are little more than the astronomical equivalent of french fries to it. How big is this thing?? In stage 3, you can see space and stars in the background. In its stomach. A Dyson Sphere would be nothing more than an inconsiderable background pixel.
  • If you can get far enough in Gradius IV, the announcer's Have a Nice Death message becomes the triumphant "You are the Viper!"
  • Reaching loop 2 stage 8 of Gaiden, noticing that the boss rush part 2 music continues to play for Neo Big Core rather than the stage endboss music, and then being confronted by Heaven's Gate, the new Stage 8 endboss that then proeeds to toss Beam Spam across the screen, as the endboss music finally begins to play.
  • Gradius V:
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    • In the Stage 2 cutscene:
      Vic Viper's computer: "Warning. There is a space-time anomaly forming. Two objects have emerged. Ship identification code cannot be processed for the large craft. The other is Vic Viper T-301."
      Pilot: "Impossible! There must be some mistake!"
    • At the end of Stage 7 in Gradius V, the Vic Viper comes across a battleship that doesn't seem penetrable. The pilot orders his computer to run a scan on the unidentified ship. The analysis reveals that destroying the ship requires a simultaneous assault through both paths at once by two ships. It's then that the pilot realizes why the ship identified as and also claiming to be Vic Viper T-301 showed up with the distress call: it really was himself enlisting his past self's aid. Knowing what he must do — what he will do — he then initiates a space-time warp; his computer warns him of the dangers of such an action, but reassures it that "history's on my side!" The Stage 2 cutscene plays out again, this time from the player's point of view as it all makes perfect sense now.
      Pilot (future in Stage 2, present in Stage 8): "Can you read me? This is Vic Viper. I don't have much time, so listen closely. In order to defeat them, I need your help. We need to get inside the ship from different routes and destroy the core at each end. Both must be taken out, or there'll be no future for either of us."
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