Nemesis (ARC)

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Nemesis - ARC - Cabinet - USA.jpg
Platform: Arcade
Year: 1985
Developer: Konami Industry Co., Ltd.

Nemesis (known as Gradius in Japan) is a horizontal shoot-'em-up developed by Konami and released in 1985. Like many other games in the genre, the story is confined to supplementary material: all that's evident within the game itself is that the player must pilot a ship (the Vic Viper) and destroy aliens (the Bacterians) throughout a variety of locales.

The standout feature of Nemesis is its approach to power-ups. A bar with six segments permanently sits at the bottom of the screen, and certain enemies drop capsules that highlight a specific segment. The player can then press a button to receive the highlighted power-up whenever they'd like. Some of the more useful ones (like "options" that add to your firepower and a shield that protects from attacks to the front) are placed at the end, requiring several capsules to achieve. Since you lose everything upon death, this adds a risk-reward system that incentivizes skilled play.

The game proved popular enough to be ported to several other platforms, soon inspiring a sequel and an entire series (also called Gradius).


Nemesis - ARC - Title Screen.png

The title screen.

Nemesis - ARC - Air Battle.png

"Dogfight" segments between each stage let you get power-ups.

Nemesis - ARC - Stage 1.png

The start of the first stage.

Nemesis - ARC - Volcano.png

These volcanoes erratically shoot out rocks.

Nemesis - ARC - Boss.png

The first of many fights against the Big Core.

Nemesis - ARC - Stage 2.png

The second stage.


The game's music was composed entirely by Miki Higashino, who had just been hired by Konami the year before. In an interview, she explained that some of her more offbeat musical choices (including unusual meters and the Lydian mode) were inspired by her vision of "outer space" and all the imagery associated with it (the future, robots, and so on). She also mentions that her work on the game was influenced by Kraftwerk, "[her] introduction to the synthesizer sound."

Several of the songs in this soundtrack would go on to be arranged in several future games in the series. In particular, "Aircraft Carrier" appears in nearly every subsequent installment, often paired with a call-back to one of the game's bosses.


# Title ComposerArranger Length Listen Download
01 Credit Miki HigashinoMiki Higashino 0:01
02 Beginning of the History Miki HigashinoMiki Higashino 0:51
03 Challenger 1985 Miki HigashinoMiki Higashino 0:56
04 Beat Back Miki HigashinoMiki Higashino 0:55
05 Blank Mask Miki HigashinoMiki Higashino 0:52
06 Free Flyer Miki HigashinoMiki Higashino 0:56
07 Mazed Music Miki HigashinoMiki Higashino 0:46
08 Mechanical Globule Miki HigashinoMiki Higashino 1:17
09 Final Attack Miki HigashinoMiki Higashino 0:57
10 Aircraft Carrier Miki HigashinoMiki Higashino 0:25
11 Game Over Miki HigashinoMiki Higashino 0:04
12 Historic Soldier Miki HigashinoMiki Higashino 0:31
13 Gradius Spare BGM Miki HigashinoMiki Higashino 0:56
14 Unused Miki HigashinoMiki Higashino 0:05


(Game lacks credits.)

Miki Higashino has been identified as the game's composer in many different sources, such as this interview. While no official sources have explicitly said whether she arranged her own compositions for the hardware, it can be assumed that she did - she discusses the general challenges of "trying to overcome the limitations of the sound systems [Konami's sound staff] worked with" in the aforementioned interview. (While she does mention at one point that she prefers having others arrange her work, in context she appears to be discussing arrangement-focused albums rather than games.)


Game Rip





There is currently no rip available for Nemesis. The VGM format supports the AY-3-8910 chip, hence why it is listed here.

Audio Devices

While the game was released on both Konami's Bubble System (in Japan) and a standard arcade board, the audio hardware remained the same: two AY-3-8910s and a K005289 SCC.


  Japan.svg   Japan
Gradius - ARC - Flyer - Japan.jpg
Title: グラディウス (Gradius)
Platform: Arcade
Released: 1985-05-29
Publisher: Konami Industry Co., Ltd.
  EU.svg   EU
Nemesis - ARC - Flyer - EU.jpg
Title: Nemesis
Platform: Arcade
Released: 1985-09-??
Publisher: Konami, Ltd.
  USA.svg   USA
Nemesis - ARC - Cabinet - USA.jpg
Title: Nemesis
Platform: Arcade
Released: 1985-12-??
Publisher: Konami, Inc.


Gradius / Nemesis Platform - ARC.png • Platform - NES.png • Platform - PC88.png • Platform - MSX.png • Platform - X1.png • Platform - X68.png • Platform - CPC.png • Platform - C64.png • Platform - ZXS.png • Platform - TG16.png
Salamander / Life Force Platform - ARC.png • Platform - NES.png • Platform - MSX.png • Platform - X68.png • Platform - CPC.png • Platform - C64.png • Platform - ZXS.png
Nemesis 2 Platform - MSX.png • Platform - X68.png
Gradius II / Vulcan Venture Platform - ARC.png • Platform - FC.png • Platform - X68.png • Platform - TGCD.png
Nemesis 3: The Eve of Destruction Platform - MSX.png
Cosmic Wars Platform - FC.png
Gradius III Platform - ARC.png • Platform - SNES.png
Nemesis Platform - GB.png
Gradius: The Interstellar Assault Platform - GB.png
Salamander 2 Platform - ARC.png
Solar Assault Platform - ARC.png
Gradius Gaiden Platform - PS1.png
Gradius IV Platform - ARC.png
Gradius Galaxies Platform - GBA.png
Gradius V Platform - PS2.png
Gradius ReBirth Platform - WII.png