We’re blasting off on the first episode of our new SHMUP miniseries with the shooter that set the mold for horizontal STGs – Konami’s Gradius. How did this accidental hit become such a groundbreaking series? What anime movie had a huge influence on the design and weaponry of the Vic Viper? How many aliases do the Gradius and Salamander games have? Is this the most repeated arcade game of all time? No STG would be complete without some talk about Morning Music, board issues, weapon strategy, and the obvious Friends connection. We also cover cheap Jeopardy questions, proctology exams, tiny snipers, a Lake Placid pinball game, and bad Mark Wahlberg quotes.