Follow TV Tropes


Video Game / The Adventures of Rad Gravity

Go To
The Adventures of Rad Gravity is a Platform Game released in December of 1990 for the Nintendo Entertainment System. It was developed by Interplay Entertainment and published by Activision.

The player controls the eponymous space adventurer as he goes through numerous planets on his mission to reactivate the eight missing Compuminds that were shut down and hidden by Agathos. He is guided by the only one left, Kakos, who is his ship's computer during the game. Along the way, he picks up various power-ups and Energy Units that make life easier... usually.

Most people would recognize it for the title screen music.

This game provides examples of:

  • 11th-Hour Superpower: The strongest armor in the game, the White Armor, is found very near the door to the final boss on Telos. That is, if you actually manage to find it.
  • All There in the Manual: The game makes no clear explanation as to why Rad's doing what he's doing, or how Kakos got there. That's instead addressed in the manual's 14-page comic.
  • Anti-Frustration Features: As brutal as the game can be, it has a few of these. Passwords, numerous health and armor upgrades (though roughly half of the health upgrades and the final armor upgrade are in very hard to find locations), unlimited continues, and a checkpoint for the Final Boss and real final boss. (Very useful given how long and difficult Telos is.)
  • Asteroid Thicket: The Asteroid Belt.
  • Beef Gate: There are some parts of the game that all but require you to take damage to get across, so it's so difficult to pass. Then there are levels that have hazards so damaging, they'll kill you in one or two hits. One of these levels is available right after the first level is cleared.
  • Big Bad: Agathos, the giant brain, is the one who shut down the Compuminds of the United Planets, preventing interplanetary communication. However, he did it to stop the Compumind Kakos, Rad's guide who led the Compuminds in attempting to conquer the galaxy and wants Rad to reactivate them to try again.
  • Big Boo's Haunt: While it has no ghosts, Odar has to be the creepiest stage in the game, with weird monsters flying everywhere, a dank underground section, and hands reaching up out of the ground to grab you. (It's later revealed that's the enemies trying to grab some fruit that falls from trees that are found there. Though if that's their only form of subsistence, they're bound to be really hungry much of the time, given how long it can take for fruit to fall off of trees....)
  • Captain Space, Defender of Earth!: Rad himself.
  • Cast from Hit Points: One of the last items you can pick up makes a temporary controllable floating platform. It costs a full Energy Unit to use. (It might literally be one of the bars from the HUD, actually...)
  • Cyberpunk: Cyberia, the first level. Complete with cyborgs.
  • Cyber Space: A part of Cyberia has you entering a large computer to perform, uh, "maintenance".
  • Derelict Graveyard/Ghost Ship: The abandoned ship in the Asteroid Belt.
  • Down in the Dumps: Effluvia is a garbage-filled planet, with crushed cars forming some of the terrain, trash bag enemies, and junk falling onto the many conveyer belts to be dropped into the incinerator lava stuff.
  • Elaborate Underground Base: Utopia mostly takes place underground in robot-ridden hallways.
  • Eternal Engine: Several examples, but Telos is the most notable.
  • Fake Difficulty: Mostly of the bad game design variety. Fairly large and difficult stages with no checkpoints, enemies whose weak (read: plain attackable) points are not the clearest, and an item that requires you to sacrifice a full Energy Unit to use it... and needs to be used at the end of a long, difficult stage where you quite likely won't have enough energy to use it are some examples.
  • Future Music: The title screen music is quite harsh-sounding and atonal. The only other piece of music in the game that it's even remotely cohesive with is the death jingle.
  • Gravity Screw: The gimmick of Turvia; most of the level is played upside down, with matching flipped up-down controls. Also, despite being depicted on the cover of the game and in the main character's name, said Gravity Screw only occurs in one level.
  • Guide Dang It!: Oh. So. Much. Sometimes the game tells you what to do, other times it should be relatively simple if you do some exploration. However, with fake walls/floors, unusual boss battles, hidden rooms, obscure ways to advance, and a maze of identical doors, the wrong one of which will send you back to the beginning of the room or level, a guide is the only thing standing between you and insanity. Good luck finding every item in the game as well.
  • Hailfire Peaks: Vernia is both Underground Level and Floating Continent (though they're really just floating cities).
  • Laser Blade: The starting weapon.
  • Lethal Lava Land: Volcania, with extra emphasis on the "lethal"
  • Misguided Missile: Used to defeat Kakos.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Kakos means evil/bad in Greek. Not much of a surprise, then, when he turns out to be evil.
  • Names to Trust Immediately: By contrast, Agathos means good.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: After defeating Agathos, an old man will come down and tell you that the Compuminds were Evil All Along, led by Kakos, and they were shut down to avoid them taking over everything. The final boss? Kakos. How do you fight him? Trick the torpedoes he fires to hit him, the small eye sitting on your ship. The challenge? Asteroid Belt controls. Good luck.
  • Nintendo Hard: A good deal is from the Fake Difficulty, but this game is full of plain, straight-up difficulty from the get-go. You start out with a short-range lightsaber that you only thrust, and one of the first enemies almost randomly deflects your hits with a swinging chain. Energy Units only give you one unit of energy instead of a full heal. Enemies are sometimes in such places so that, if you jump or don't shoot them first or whatever, they will bump into you, knocking you back and into a pit. Corridors are sometimes too narrow to jump and have enemies that can shoot you even if you duck. And then there's the last level, which, while the damage dealt per hit is relatively low if you have green armor, is relentless. Savestate early and often... you're gonna need it.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed:
    • Rad has been likened to Bruce Campbell, and the game can be seen as a parody in some ways.
    • The guys who steal Kakos and take him to Effluvia are pretty clearly Cheech & Chong.
  • No Punctuation Period: There is little to no punctuation in the game; for example, the page image is seen quite frequently, but they didn't bother to make any punctuation. (Granted, there's limited space, but they could have done something about that, such as decreasing the font width.)
  • One-Time Dungeon: Effluvia.
  • Permanently Missable Content: There are some power-ups on Effluvia.note 
  • Power Up Letdown: First you get the gun, finally, which is useful... but only fires horizontally. You also collect powerful bombs (and by the time you get them, you can soon after find an upgrade that makes them do more damage) that fairly quickly become merely situational due to the high amount of narrow corridors in the second half of the game. And finally, at endgame, you get an item called the Energy Disc that lets you hover across long gaps for a time... but not only is it at endgame, but you need to sacrifice a good chunk of your energy to use it. You also can't shoot while using it.
  • Prehistoria: Sauria. Notable for featuring an enormous dinosaur that you can climb onto partially and (due to similar tilesets) you might not understand is a dinosaur until you see the legs.
  • Pun: Turvia's gimmick is being upside down, aka Topsy Turvy.
  • Puzzle Boss: All of them. And only one of them is relatively clear about it. One notable example, aside from the final boss, is the boss of the last "normal" level. It deflects all your attacks. How do you beat it? Crouch by a little woman on the ground and fire a bomb. She'll take it and slide over, jump up, and huck it at the boss from behind, damaging it.
  • Raygun Gothic: Rad's big fishbowl helmet and his arsenal of weapons all give off this feeling.
  • Single-Biome Planet: All to most, at least that the player can see.
  • Shout-Out: The two guys who steal Kakos and take him to Effluvia are pretty clearly Cheech & Chong, including their ice cream truck from Nice Dreams.
  • Space Zone: The Asteroid Belt. Notable for its confusing mechanics: You shoot in the direction opposite you want to go. Shoot 90 degrees from that while moving, you go diagonal. To stop, you fire opposite whatever direction you go—doing this from diagonal first causes you to go vertical or horizontal depending on what direction you canceled out. The second part and majority of the stage is on an abandoned spaceship.
  • Spikes of Doom: Surprisingly, subverted. Not only are there relatively few in the game (the final level more than makes up for it), but when you hit them, you only take a bit of damage. But good luck if you fall somewhere without a place to jump to nearby, or you'll be knocked back each time you try moving forward. (Not even facing the other direction seems to work, at least sometimes.)
  • Standard Sci Fi Setting: Complete with stargates.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: In the last level, the boss music reverts to the level music during the battle with Agathos if you beam down to his room from your ship.note 
  • Super Drowning Skills: Rad. One touch of water is an instant death.
  • Tactical Suicide Boss: How do you beat Agathos? Wait for him to open his brain case and bomb 'im. Just watch out for the blast he fires upon doing this.
  • The Very Definitely Final Dungeon: Telos. Spikes. Spikes everywhere.
  • Totally Radical: The main character is named Rad.
  • Video Game Physics: Surprisingly, some objects are actually affected by fire; this is essential when solving a couple of the game's puzzles. This is also used when fighting your first boss, which consists of a pair of tall, invulnerable robots you need to toss bombs over to push away from each other so that they don't wind each other back up when they wind down. (Good luck getting them over and at the right place, since hitting from the back of the advancing robot will push it further to its partner, all while avoiding wavy shots.) But wait, there's more! Let's not forget that you have a little momentum when running (causing much sliding off of platforms into pits) and you have a cruelly long knockback distance when you get hit (causing you to slide back again even more).