Gradius V is a Japanese-developed shoot 'em up video game developed by Treasure and published by Konami for the PS2 video game console in 2004 as part of the Gradius Series. The game was released in Japan in July 2004, in North America in September 2004, and in PAL regions in October 2004. It was largely developed under contract by the Treasure team responsible for Radiant Silvergun and Ikaruga, under supervision of Konami's internal development studio, KCET.
The game is set predominantly in outer space, where players assume control of a fictional spaceship called Vic Viper through a continuously scrolling background depicting the territories of Bacterian; an evil empire which serves as the player's enemy.
General mechanicsEditGradius V features structural and mechanical design similar to that of its predecessors; progression is linear and players control a spaceship called Vic Viper over the course of eight levels which alter between horizontal and vertical scrolling on a two-dimensional plane. Each individual level comprises a number of sequences of enemy formations with bosses occasionally appearing mid-level as well as at the end of the level - whom must be defeated in order to reach the next area. Points are awarded for every successful kill and tallies up when the game ends on an in-game scoreboard where the player has the option of inputting personal details to distinguish their results.
Combat in Gradius V is influenced by the use of a "power meter; a horizontal panel situated at the bottom of the screen comprised of several boxes, representing each ship upgrade possible. The power meter is used in conjunction with power-up items given by destroyed enemy ships; the effect of these items are to advance the currently selected box in the power meter. When the desired upgrade becomes highlighted, the player can obtain it by pressing the upgrade button, returning the power meter to its initial state in which no upgrade is highlighted. By repeating this process over and over again, the Vic Viper grows stronger and stronger over the course of play. The exact lay-out of the power meter differs depending on the configuration that was selected at the beginning of the game.
Multiples (also known as Options) are pulsating globes that trail behind the Vic Viper, mimicking both its motion and fire. Since Multiples cannot be harmed and can pass through any object without harm, clever use of several Multiples can allow the player's fire at places that are impossible to reach with just the Vic Viper.
New for Gradius V is the addition of a second attribute for Multiples. By pressing the 'Multiple control' button, the player can manipulate the formation or firing angle, depending on the type selected at the beginning of the game. Otherwise, the Multiples will trail behind the player's ship in a tail like fashion.
Up to four Multiples can be obtained. In two-player co-op games, there is still a maximum of four between both players. In another new feature of this installment, if the 'Revival Start' option is off, any Multiples a player had are left behind when the player is killed, giving him or her (or the other player in co-op) an opportunity to grab them with his or her revived ship.
Gradius V is set in an interstellar setting against the backdrop of a conflict between the human-inhabited planet Gradius and a self-regenerating entity called Bacterian; which in each iteration assembles a massive space armada in an effort to conquer the dominion.
The story opens in the year 8010 when a military space station orbiting planet Gradius is subdued by Bacterion forces. As part of a counter-offensive, Vic Viper of the Gradius army engages the assailants in space. With the help of a future-version of himself, Vic Viper fights hordes of Bacterion forces, ultimately obliterating the Bacterion core.
Gradius V was officially announced on January 16, 2003, and is a result of the combined efforts of the now defunct Konami Computer Entertainment Tokyo and Treasure, a development studio founded by former employees of Konami. Gradius V marks their first joint project since Treasure's departure from Konami in 1992.
In the 2006 French documentary film Japon: Histoire Du Shooting Game produced by CanalSat's GameOne channel, senior producer Osamu Kasai explained that because of limited resources, the development duties had to be outsourced. Their choice of potential collaborators would be decided by experience with modern shoot 'em ups and a shared understanding of design practices prevalent at Konami, Kasai concluded that "Treasure was the best choice".
Gradius V took many shapes and forms during the course of development and the designers proceeded to change aspects of recurring gameplay elements to distinguish the new game from previous efforts. In an interview with producer Yasushi Takano on the promotional DVD Gradius Breakdown, Takano said that he felt the traditional Gradius formula had become stagnant and expressed a desire for a new direction to remain relevant. He also admitted that some of their early work was not as impressive as it would later become and the game was subsequently delayed and made frequent appearances at trade fairs, including the Electronic Entertainment Expo, prior to its release. Plans were also made to produce a counterpart for video arcades alongside the console version, but it was later canceled because of time constraints.
On April 9, 2004, Konami announced that a DVD entitled OPTIONS was being offered to pre-ordering customers in Japan, containing interviews with the development staff, art galleries and a collection of "super play" videos demonstrating the inner workings of the game's levels. Adding further incentive for customers to purchase the upcoming product, Konami later revealed the availability of The History of Vic Viper ;a book indicating inner design, the background, and the roadmap of the Vic Viper ships which was included with all versions of the original Japanese pressing of the game. An additional DVD with expanded content titled Gradius V Official DVD The Perfect was also released in Japan to be ordered separately or with the game from Konami's online retail store, Konamistyle.
For the North American release of the game, Konami produced a DVD called Gradius Breakdown as a pre-order bonus.
Overall, Gradius V received positive reviews from magazines and websites and amassed a Metacritic rating index of 82, compiled from 46 reviews around the Positive response tends to focus on the intricate level design, graphical excellence, and "old school" appeal of the frenetic shoot 'em up gameplay. Most negative criticism highlights the extreme difficulty of the game, as well as what is deemed an over-reliance on such a tried and true gameplay formula, to which G4tv.com said that "While the action is always constant and involving, the lack of variation and the need to be in an exact spot at an exact time is simply not going to strike everyone as fun."