Game music of the day: Gradius III

Game: Gradius III

Song: Invitation

Composer: Ueko, Uehara, Muraoka and Morimoto

Above: Invitation from Gradius III

When the Super NES first launched in 1991, side-scrolling shooters (now sadly called shmups) were a barometer of a new console's capabilities. How many enemies could fit on the screen? How big were the bosses? How insane were your fully powered laser missile cannons? And, most importantly, how inarguably awesome was the soundtrack? When all these pieces came together, you got a system-defining experience, and Gradius III was one of the SNES' very first showcase shooters.

Invitation plays while you create your custom payload for the alien-blasting Vic Viper. I love this welcoming tune, as it also instills a sense of majesty into the screen. Which weapons to choose? Will you be successful? All of humanity rests on your shoulders, you ace pilot you, so get out there and kick some space ass. I also love the myriad mechanical hums and twitters as the song moves from verse to verse, like a hypnotic, robotic siren song.

Invitation is always followed by Departure for Space, a song that plays during a brief intermission area between levels. To this day, hearing this song, along with Gradius' voiced power up notifications (Speed Up! Laser!) gives me goosebumps. It's so damn inspiring. Plus that bass!

And if you want a more metal-y version, this guy does a respectable cover of Departure for Space with his electric guitar.  This is just the tip of the iceberg, too. Check out the rest of Gradius III either on YouTube or on Wii's Virtual Console.


Game music of the day: Psycho Soldier
The first arcade game with a vocal track, from Eikichi Kawasaki



Game music of the day: Journey to Silius
Rockin' NES beats from Nobuyuki, Marumo, N. Kodaka, About SS and MaboChan



Game music of the day: Billy Hatcher
The cheeriest song of all time, from Mariko Nanba


  • philipshaw - August 11, 2010 11:13 a.m.

    I have never played the game but I love them songs
  • CaptCOMMANDO - August 10, 2010 6:53 p.m.

    I hate Gradius.
  • goochbiscuit - August 10, 2010 3:47 a.m.

    Excellent timing Brett, just downloaded this soundtrack the other day.
  • notallgoodnameswheretaken - August 10, 2010 3:02 a.m.

    It does sound a little like Pokemon. And that guitar version sounded awesome. I've also never actually seen an edit comments feature, though, I guess it's because I don't comment on many sites.
  • NdIGiTy - August 10, 2010 2:01 a.m.

    Departure for Space is ridiculously upbeat. Can't get enough of this superb remix of it from
  • shyfonzie - August 10, 2010 1:22 a.m.

    I hear it!! The majesty of space!!
  • y2sky2003 - August 10, 2010 12:49 a.m.

    This game was the very reason I wanted an SNES when it was released, and it did not disappoint.
  • CH3BURASHKA - August 9, 2010 11:38 p.m.

    @Screwball: Totally, there certainly are elements of the Poke-battle theme. @Juicenpancakes: What he said. For the love of God bring this website up to date with 2008 at least!
  • juicenpancakes - August 9, 2010 11:12 p.m.

    -- I would love to see an "edit" feature for comments. I type way too fast and then when the comment is posted I feel like a dumbass for leaving a word in that I thought I had deleted. (Not that I didn't "read the feature when it came was first posted")
  • juicenpancakes - August 9, 2010 11:09 p.m.

    Nice music, and I enjoyed the "shmups" reference. -- Even though I read that feature when it came was first posted (references that show your age), I thought I'd look it over again, and damn, it was much more in-depth than I remember. Mikel must have spent quite the time on it. I apologize to him for not appreciating it as much then, but I definitely do now.
  • Eaxis - August 9, 2010 10:16 p.m.

    This feature truly gives me that nostalgia feeling. Great music.
  • 510BrotherPanda - August 9, 2010 10:13 p.m.

    I found a cartridge of this game for free in a cardboard box. I still can't get past the 3rd or 4th level...
  • Tit - August 9, 2010 9:55 p.m.

    reminds me of rpgs... wow gets great around 0:20. Even better with my sub woofer cranked all the way up.
  • screwball08247 - August 9, 2010 9:50 p.m.

    Sounds like the Pokemon soundtrack, but in space.

Showing 1-14 of 14 comments

Join the Discussion
Add a comment (HTML tags are not allowed.)
Characters remaining: 5000