Gradius V

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Gradius V
Gradius V cover.jpg
Video game box art by Hidetaka Tenjin.
Developer(s) Treasure
G.rev
Publisher(s) Konami
Producer(s) Yasushi Takano
Designer(s) Hiroshi Iuchi
Atsutomo Nakagawa
Artist(s) Hidetaka Tenjin
Composer(s) Hitoshi Sakimoto
Series Gradius
Platform(s) PlayStation 2
Release date(s)
  • JP July 22, 2004
  • NA September 14, 2004
  • EU October 8, 2004
Genre(s) Scrolling shooter
Mode(s) Single-player, Cooperative

Gradius V is a Japanese-developed shoot 'em up video game published by Konami for the Sony PlayStation 2 video game console in 2004. Gradius V was largely developed under contract by Treasure who had previously worked on Radiant Silvergun and Ikaruga.

The game is set predominantly in outer space where players control a fictional spacecraft called Vic Viper through a continuously scrolling background depicting the territories of Bacterian—an evil empire which serves as the player's enemy.[1]

Gradius V received overall positive reviews. Critics praised the level design, graphical design and "classic" revival, but criticized the game's difficulty.

Mechanics[edit]

The game takes place as a 2D scrolling shooter with the Vic Viper contending with formations of enemies, both stationary and moving, that fire bullets.[2] Players go through levels consisting of open space and others consisting of maneuvering through close quarters which alter between horizontal and vertical scrolling.[2][3] Should players come into contact with anything on the screen, the Vic Viper explodes, and they lose a life.[2] In Gradius V, the hit box (the pixels which must be touched by an object to destroy the ship) has been reduced in size to allow players to get through small areas more easily.[4] Gradius V marks the first time in the series in which players can reappear immediately and resume the game from where they lose a life ever since Salamander series. Alternatively, players may also restart at a previously cleared checkpoint depending on the game's settings.[2] If all lives are lost players have the option to continue and restart the game from where they left off. Players receive extra lives after scoring a certain number of points as indicated in the game's settings,[5] and players may receive extra continues depending on how much total playing time has been accumulated.[6]

The game can be played with one player or with two players simultaneously.[7] After players start the game, they will enter a "Select Weapon Array" screen, where they may select the types of power-ups they will use through the course of the game.[6] There is also an unlockable feature called "Weapon Edit" in which players can access if certain conditions are met. In this mode, they can customize the Vic Viper with various combinations of weapons found in the "Select Weapon Array" screen, from earlier Gradius games, or new weaponry.[8] Players are able to start the game from the beginning or at any stage that was previously cleared. Players can also play a "Score Attack" mode, where they play the game from the beginning under specific parameters. At the end of "Score Attack" mode, players receive a password which allows them to post their highest achieved score on the Internet.[9]

The player is confronted by several enemies and uses the multiple control mechanic to direct the ship's weapons.

Finally, players have the option to view the highest local scores, save or load game data using a PlayStation 2 memory card, or to adjust the game's settings, including stereo or monoural sound, difficulty, number of lives available, the number of points required to earn extra lives, the ability to restart from a checkpoint or immediately after being destroyed, or button configuration.[10]

Throughout the game, players can accumulate various power-up capsules after destroying certain enemies or enemy formations. Collecting a power-up capsule moves a yellow cursor on the power meter at the bottom of the screen. Pressing the "Power-Up" button will award the player the power-up that is highlighted on the power meter. The types of power-ups that can be obtained throughout the course of the game are selected at the "Select Weapon Array" and "Weapon Edit" menus before starting.[8] The cursor cycles through the following power-ups in order: "Speed Up", "Missile", "Double", "Laser", "Multiple", and "Shield".[2] With the "Speed Up" power-up, players are able to increase speeds of their ships; with the "Missile" power-up, players can launch air-to-surface missiles to destroy ground targets; and with the "Double" power-up, players can fire an additional gun that fires in another direction other than forward. The "Laser" power-up allows players to fire enemy-piercing lasers, the "Force Field" power-up gives players three additional hits before being destroyed, and "Multiple" power-up gives players clones (also called "Options") that shadow their movements and mimic their firing.[11] A new feature in Gradius V gives players the ability to control their "Multiples" with the push of a button, depending on which weaponry was selected before starting the game. By pressing a button, players can freeze their Multiples in place, cause them to rotate around the Vic Viper, control the direction of their fire, or spread them out above and below the ship.[4][11]

Development[edit]

We wanted to work with someone who has knowledge in the area of modern shooting. We also wanted a partner that could understand the Konami spirit. Because we absolutely had to do this production outside, Treasure was the best choice.

—Osamu Kasai, senior producer

Gradius V was officially announced on January 16, 2003,[12] 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.[13] Gradius V marks their first joint project since the departure from Konami in 1992.[14] 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 of the game had to be outsourced. Their choice of potential collaborators would be decided by experience with modern shoot 'em ups and design practices similar to those of Konami, Kasai concluded that "Treasure was the best choice" for the project.[15]

In an interview with the game's 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 in order for the series to remain relevant,[16] he also admitted that some of their early work was not as impressive as it would later become. The game went through several revisions and the game was subsequently delayed and made frequent appearances at trade fairs including the Electronic Entertainment Expo and Tokyo Game Show. Plans were also made to produce a counterpart for video arcades alongside the console version, but it was canceled because of time constraints.[16]

On April 9, 2004, Konami announced that a DVD called OPTIONS was being offered to pre-ordering customers in Japan containing interviews with the developers, art galleries and a number of videos demonstrating the inner workings of the game's levels.[17] Adding further incentive for customers to purchase the upcoming game, 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. The book was included with all versions of the original Japanese pressing of the game.[18] 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.[18] For the North American release of the game, Konami produced a DVD called Gradius Breakdown as a pre-order incentive. Breakdown includes a retrospective of the Gradius series and a number of recorded playthroughs of the game.[19]

Konami also held an online high score ranking competition in the United States and the winners received a director's cut version of the Gradius Breakdown DVD that included additional pieces of concept art and videos of the later levels.

Audio[edit]

Gradius V Soundtracks
Soundtrack album by Hitoshi Sakimoto
Released August 18, 2004 (Japan)
Recorded 1989
Genre Video game music
Length 60:10
Label King Records

The soundtrack was composed by Basiscape composer Hitoshi Sakimoto whose previous video game work includes the soundtrack to the tactical role-playing game Final Fantasy Tactics, the shoot'em up Radiant Silvergun and the action/RPG hybrid Vagrant Story. Sakimoto noted in an interview that "It was a great honor for me to able to work on a title like this, but also very stressful" and names the original Gradius as an important source of inspiration on his work.[20] He also revealed that his clients requested a music style that would be reminiscent of the earlier games, and the soundtrack as a result comprises remixes of music used in previous Gradius titles as well as original tracks.[20] Synthesized orchestral instruments were used throughout the production of the soundtrack.[21]

The soundtrack was released separately on CD as Gradius V Soundtracks by Konami Media Entertainment in Japan on August 18, 2004, and features 22 tracks.[22]

Reception[edit]

Reception
Aggregate scores
Aggregator Score
GameRankings 82.87%[23]
Review scores
Publication Score
1UP.com A-
Edge 9 of 10
Famitsu 32 of 40
Game Informer 83 of 100
GameSpy 5 of 5
Awards
Publication Award
Best Shooter - GameSpy[24]

Overall, Gradius V received positive reviews from magazines and websites and amassed a Metacritic rating index of 82, based on 46 reviews.[25] Positive response tends to focus on the intricate level design, graphical excellence, and "old school" appeal of the shoot 'em up genre. Most negative criticism highlights the difficulty of the game, as well as what is deemed an over-reliance on established genre conventions, 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."[26]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Gradius V instruction manual, pp. 4–5.
  2. ^ a b c d e Lewis, Ed (2004-09-14). "Gradius V". IGN. Retrieved 2009-09-07. 
  3. ^ 1UP Staff (2004-09-14). "Gradius V (PS2)". 1UP.com. Retrieved 2009-09-08. 
  4. ^ a b Turner, Benjamin (2004-09-14). "Gradius V". GameSpy. Retrieved 2009-09-08. 
  5. ^ Gradius V Instruction Manual, pp. 8.
  6. ^ a b Gradius V Instruction Manual, pp. 6.
  7. ^ Scalzo, John (2004-12-02). "Gradius V". Gaming Target. Retrieved 2009-09-07. 
  8. ^ a b Gradius V Instruction Manual, pp. 11.
  9. ^ Gradius V instruction manual, pp. 6–7.
  10. ^ Gradius V instruction manual, pp. 7–9.
  11. ^ a b Gradius V Instruction Manual, pp. 12.
  12. ^ Varanini, Giancarlo (2003-01-16). "Konami announces Gradius V". GameSpot. Retrieved 2007-10-28. 
  13. ^ "Treasure Company Profile". GameSpy. Retrieved 2006-11-02. "this Japanese game company is composed mainly of veteran Konami developers who struck out on their own during the 16-bit era" 
  14. ^ Turner, Benjamin. "13 Years of Treasure: A Retrospective". 1UP. Retrieved 2007-11-02. "If there was still any doubt, it should have been erased by 2004's Gradius V, which ironically saw Treasure working under contract for its former masters at Konami." 
  15. ^ ""Japon : Histoire Du Shooting Game" translation". 2006-10-27. Retrieved 2007-10-20. 
  16. ^ a b Gradius Breakdown (DVD). North America: Konami. September 2004. 
  17. ^ Hitmitsu, Suppai (2004-04-09). "Gradius Preorder Bonus". IGN Entertainment. Retrieved 2006-07-25. 
  18. ^ a b Dunham, Jeremy (2004-05-26). "Early Gradius V Bonus". IGN Entertainment. Retrieved 2006-07-25. 
  19. ^ Cunningham, James (2004-10-22). "Gradius V Breakdown DVD - The Next Level Show and Tell". The Next Level. Retrieved 2007-11-02. 
  20. ^ a b Ezaki, Kahori; McCawley, James (2004-09-16). "Hitoshi Sakimoto interview". CocoeBiz. Retrieved 2006-06-22. 
  21. ^ Larsen, Phil (2006-11-06). "Hitoshi Sakimoto Interview - PALGN Interview". PALGN. Retrieved 2007-11-03. "but regarding Gradius V, I used orchestral instruments to make the whole work consistent." 
  22. ^ "Chudah's Corner - Gradius V Soundtracks". Retrieved 6 September 2010. 
  23. ^ http://www.gamerankings.com/ps2/589460-gradius-v/index.html
  24. ^ "GameSpy.com - Game of the Year - 2004". GameSpy. 2004. Retrieved 2010-09-08. 
  25. ^ "Gradius V for PlayStation 2 Reviews, Ratings, Credits, and More at Metacritic". Metacritic. Retrieved 2010-09-07. 
  26. ^ D'Aprile, Jason (22 October 2004). "Gradius V for PlayStation 2 - Reviews - G4tv.com". G4tv.com. Retrieved 2010-09-06. 

External links[edit]