So you think you're good at games? Ha ha. Think again. Even if you can complete Metal Gear with Snake in a jangly Morris Dancer costume or whip GTA III with a Sinclair C5 and a peashooter, Gradius V will serve you your ass on a plate. Freshly kicked, and with a garnish of Screw You.
It's your spaceship against a vicious alien army. They don't mess about either, with the screen permanently pulsing with lethal plasma. Not getting hit is as hard as driving a lorry through a monsoon and not getting it wet. Even on Very Easy mode it's Practically Impossible. Konami's sarcastic little joke, we assume.
When you're tooled up though, there's no better feeling in games. Your ship and four satellites called Options barfing blue laser across the screen. Missiles thunder downwards to smash ground targets. Hundreds of ships arrive on screen to be turned into explosions. It's absolutely beautiful. Get hit though, and all your power-ups are gone.
So far so Gradius, but you've never seen bosses like this in a game before. The first - and therefore EASIEST - boss entombs you in a circle. Six turrets above and below vomit spangly hoops of death, and the main boss also scorches a pair of fat lasers across the screen and shoots spreading bullets. Then the whole thing starts to rotate, and you have to dodge the incoming fire from inside the tiny gap between those lasers. It's hypnotic.
Luckily, you have new weapons to call on. Enhanced Option control means you can have those faithful little gun slaves shooting in all directions, or swooping majestically around your ship. Your second weapon is called Player 2. With a second ship on the case, you might actually stand a slim chance of seeing the end of this thing.
Harder than concrete made from diamond dust, Gradius V is the very definition of hardcore. If you can beat this, you are Unbreakable in the field of games.