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Vic Viper is the name of the protagonist space ship in the Gradius Series of games by Konami. The craft has been at the player's control in almost ten different titles. The ship has been renowned for both its remarkable adaptability and unique twin-pronged fuselage. The first Busou Shinki design competition, Bokushin (ボク神), champion was inspired by Vic Viper (Anubis Version, from Zone of Enders). A sentient version of the ship later went on to star in the Parodius Series.
- 1 Weapons and technology
- 2 Other oddities
- 3 Models
- 4 Other appearances
- 5 References
Weapons and technology
In the North American release of Gradius for the NES, the Vic Viper was referred to as the "Warp Rattler" in the game's instruction manual. The weapons of the NES version of Gradius differed from its original arcade counterpart, namely a shorter, rapid-fire Laser and only two OPTION phantoms instead of the usual four. Additionally, Konami of America referred to the Vic Viper in Gradius III as "M.A.X." This is probably an example of KOA "americanizing" the game. Another "more than one Vic Viper" example would be Anime Salamander, a late 1980s anime miniseries following the events of Gradius, Salamander and Gradius II. The three main characters all pilot their own individual Vic Viper craft.
A more obvious tipoff would be the wide variation of weapon arrays available in each game starting with Gradius II. The original weapons array from the first game is always present; the only games the Vic Viper was forced to keep its original arcade weapons was Gradius Gaiden for the PlayStation -- the reason being that it featured three other ships including Salamander's Lord British Space Destroyer and two entirely new ships -- and, arguably, Gradius Galaxies for the Game Boy Advance -- the other three weapon arrays featured in that game were differentiated ingame by a palette swap of the ship's color, making it look like the ships from Gradius Gaiden (although the Jade Knight and Falchion Beta's color and weapons were swapped backwards, leading to the speculation that Galaxies's ships really are the Vic Viper itself). Gradius V also retained the classic weapons for all four arrays, though instead of the original Shield it sported the Force Field introduced in Gradius II, along with varying ways to control the ship's OPTION phantoms. When not featured in the game, the weapons made famous by the Lord British (particularly the Ripple Laser) were also present, most often the second weapon array choice out of four.
In Gradius III, the player was allowed to customize the Vic Viper's armaments to their own specifications with a Weapon Edit mode, which was retained in Gradius V and expanded in the PS2 release of Gradius III and IV by a feature known as "Extra Edit," available after completing the game. Gradius III for the Super NES also had a Weapon Edit mode, though the Spread Gun Double was removed and two OPTION formations added. Gradius III was also where the Cyclone Laser received its official name, though it had been present in the series since Salamander.
The ship of the MSX-exclusive Gradius 2 (not to be confused with the original arcade game Gradius II: GOFER no Yabō) was also remarkable in the respect that it was able to add weaponry to itself after defeating some bosses, extending the power-up meter. Interestingly enough, however, this ship is not the real Vic Viper, but its lookalike/successor ship known as the "Metalion".
In Gradius V it is revealed that the OPTION units resemble small, dark gray tubes in inactive state. After being deployed from the Vic Viper, the tubes unfurl side fairings and begin to rotate rapidly with orange energy, appearing as the familiar elliptical objects.
The Vic Viper has often been referred to as a "temporal space fighter," though there has been little explanation as to why. This was partially cleared up in Gradius V, where the T-301 model of the Vic Viper was capable of creating tears in the space-time continuum, something the pilot put to effect in order to travel back in time to defeat Bacterion with the cooperation of the past version of himself. It is currently unknown if previous incarnations of the Vic Viper had this ability. The Vic Viper, and the other Gradius Gaiden ships, have a kind of hyper-driver system than allows them to travel faster than light for escape of the Black Hole in the Stage 7.
Another subject that has often been jokingly tossed around regards the Vic Viper's shielding and durability, as nearly anything can destroy it without supporting Shields. While this aspect is present in many shooter games (mostly to increase the game's challenge), Gradius is often the butt of such jokes, being one of the longest-running series in the genre. In Gradius V, however, this only applies to the cockpit, where the hitbox for the Vic Viper is tiny.
While at first glance the Vic Viper in each Gradius game appears to be the same ship, it is in fact a series of fighters, each with their own specific model numbers, although this is only apparent ingame in Gradius V for the PlayStation 2 and the arcade game Solar Assault. There is also the obscure, Japanese-only Cosmic Wars, a strategy game set in the Gradius universe, where the Vic Viper (among other recurring enemies such as the Big Core) is a character unit, able to be built in droves. The box art for Gradius Portable (PSP) also features what apprears to be different model incarnations of Vic Viper from Gradius various games.
- Vic Viper BP-456X: Built by Dr. Venom and used by James Burton. It's used in Gradius and Gradius Rebirth. It has the basic weaponry.
- Vic Viper BP-456Y: Vic Viper used in Nemesis GB and Gradius The Interstellar Assault. It's a slight variation of the original model.
- Vic Viper BP-8332: A variation of Vic Viper with new wings similar to Delta-wings. Used in Salamander and Salamander 2. It featured the new Ripple Laser and Twin Missiles added to the Lord British too. An upgrade allowed it to use Options as powerful counterattack weapons.
- Vic Viper BP-8272: Vic Viper used in Gradius II and IV. Is one of the most powerful models. It added the Spread Bomb, Armor Piercing and Floating Mine as new weapons.
- Vic Viper BP-5963: Vic Viper used in Gradius III, a.k.a "Vic Viper Mark-III" or "M.A.X". It's the first Vic Viper able to combine great numbers of different weapons in a single fighter. And, the color scheme of this version is white, without blue stripes.
- Vic Viper Gaiden: An unnamed Vic Viper used in Gradius Gaiden.
- Vic Viper BP-592A: Vic Viper used in Solar Assault. It has the same weapons as the original model but it was created for High-speed interceptions.
- Vic Viper T-300: A prototype version of the new T-301. Cancelled for being too unstable.
- Vic Viper T-301: Futuristic version of Vic Viper used in Gradius V. It's known for it's tiny hitbox and was capable of creating tears in the space-time continuum.
Of all the Konami characters, Vic Viper is the one which probably had the most appearances outside of its series. There are numerous Konami games in which Vic makes an appearance or a cameo.
In the Yu-Gi-Oh! Trading Card Game, there is a monster card called Gradius that features the Vic Viper's image. In the Japanese game, this card is titled Vic Viper. It is described as "A high performance jet fighter with power capsules for variable attack capabilities." While Gradius is a fairly weak monster card by itself, with only 1200 attack and 800 defense points, it has two support cards which make it more effective. The first of these is the Gradius's Option monster card, which cannot be played unless a Gradius is in play. True to the Vic Viper's OPTIONs, it attaches to a Gradius and clones the attack and defense attributes to the Gradius card it is attached to. Additionally, if the parent "Gradius" is sent to the Graveyard, all associated Gradius's Option cards follow. Because there are five spaces for monster cards on either side of the field, a player can have one or two "Gradius" and three "Gradius' Option" in use at once. After a setup of Gradius and Gradius' Options are complete, a player can attack the opponent with all of these cards in turn (provided no other cards prevent him from doing so), all having the same attack power, much like the Vic Viper and its OPTIONs attack enemies using multiplied firepower. The second support card for "Gradius" is the equip spell card Cyclon Laser, which attaches to Gradius and is based on the Cyclone Laser weapon from the video games. Cyclon Laser increases Gradius' attack power by 300 points and gives it a "piercing" effect, allowing it to cause battle damage to the opponent even if it attacks a monster in defense position. Another spell card is the matter leveller which only appeared in the anime. New cards, such as B.E.S. Tetran, Big Core, B.E.S. Covered Core, B.E.S. Crystal Core, and Boss Rush, all share a connection with "Gradius"; they are taken from several bosses of the Gradius series. An improved Vic Viper card, Victory Viper XX03, based on one of the later model Vic Viper ships, was released in the Enemy of Justice expansion set, along with a card named Power Capsule, based on the power-up items from the games. Victory Viper XX03 has "built-in" power ups, not all that dissimilar from the original Gradius' cards: each time it destroys a monster, it can summon an "Option Token", increase its attack, or destroy a spell or trap card on the field. The faithful Moai statues also have cards: The Statue of Easter Island and Moai Interceptor Cannons. The fire dragons from Gradius II have a card as well: Solar Flare Dragon. There is also a card for the option hunters in Gradius II: Option Hunter. Even more recently, further cards related to GRADIUS have been released: Lord British space Fighter, Falchion Beta, Delta Tri, and a support spell card for Delta Tri, Dragon Laser.
A cartoony version of Vic Viper, and later its long going counterpart Lord British, are usually selectable characters in this series. True to its name, it is literally a parody of Gradius where not only super deformed versions of the Gradius ships may be used, but also other classic Konami characters such as Kid Dracula, Goemon and his partner Ebisumaru. The games are rather challenging in themselves, but are also packed with absolutely ludicrous situations and humor. The very fact normally non-flying Konami characters now fly and shoot like Gradius ships alone should be enough for the player to see that this is quite a humorous game. To date, there have been five installments of the series. No recent installments have arisen, although there is a recently released racing game with a similar light-hearted attitude. Also appears in one of the Pachislot games.
Wai Wai World Series
Vic Viper appears as a playable ship in the first Wai Wai World in only one generic vertical shooting level. In Wai Wai World 2, there are at least three levels based on the Gradius series games, in which Vic Viper is also playable. It is also a secret character in the kart crossover Konami Krazy Racers, being the only character which doesn't use a kart to compete.
The Vic Viper has appeared in multiple videos within the IIDX series, starting with Gradiusic Cyber in the first Beatmania IIDX release. The song uses the FMV from Gradius Deluxe Pack as a setpiece. In Beatmania IIDX 7th Style, Burning Heat! (Full Option Mix) appeared with gameplay footage from Gradius II and CGI renditions of the artificial suns from Stage 1. Gradius -Full Speed- debuted in Beatmania IIDX 10th Style, with footage from Gradius and a render of the Vic Viper flying through space.
Airforce Delta Strike
The Vic Viper, along with other Konami aircraft such as Twinbee and the ship from Axelay appear as unlockable fighters. To unlock the Vic Viper just beat the game for the first time, you'll get the ship after your first mission as a present from Harry.
Zone of the Enders
In Zone of the Enders: The 2nd Runner, the former main character of the first game, Leo Stenbuck pilots a LEV by the name of Vic Viper, or V2 for short. To fit in with the theme of the games, the Vic Viper can transform into a robotic mecha form in similar fashion to VF-1 Valkyries from Macross or the titular "mobile suit" of Zeta Gundam. According to the official website for the game as well as its art book, the decision to put the Vic Viper in such an advanced cameo came from character designer Yoji Shinkawa's love for the old Gradius games. He always thought the two protruding sections at the front of the Vic Viper looked like they could be the legs of a convertible robot. The character of Leo was meant to pilot a vehicle of Earth technology (as opposed to the Martian technology used to build the "Orbital Frames", the signature mecha of the Zone of the Enders series), something which could stand up to the powerful Martian frames and reflect Leo's fast and accurate style. Hideo Kojima wanted Leo to pilot something that was fast, furious, and something that could transform, and Shinkawa jumped at the opportunity to insert the Vic Viper into the game.
The Vic Viper was used by Leo Stenbuck after the events of the first game. After leaving his first mecha, the Orbital Frame Jehuty, on the moon of Callisto, he trains in the use of the V2, and continues the fight on behalf of the UNSF on Mars.
The Vic Viper is first seen in the game when Dingo Egret, the subsequent pilot of Jehuty (and Player character of the game), first makes it down to the surface of Mars. Thinking that Jehuty had been stolen or reclaimed by BAHRAM, Leo attacks Dingo in an attempt to force him to turn the Orbital Frame over. Despite Jehuty being the pinnacle of Orbital Frame technology, Vic Viper is shown to be quite a match for Jehuty, due to a combination of the V2's advanced design and Leo's piloting skill. The Vic Viper serves as a Boss in the game, with the player having to fight off Leo. After the boss fight ends, the two machines clash again, until A.D.A. (Jehuty's A.I. whom Leo had befriended in the first game) brings the battle to an end when she recognizes his fighting style. Deciding to put his trust in Dingo, Leo departs, after telling Dingo why he had hidden Jehuty in the first place. The music played during the battle with Vic Viper,
The Vic Viper appears later in the game, where Leo and Dingo help a large group of UNSF LEV's Assault BAHRAM's base on Mars. In this stage of the game, the Player and Vic Viper have to protect the LEV's during the assault, fighting off an army of hundreds of enemy Orbital Frames. In addition to fighting alongside Jehuty, Vic Viper can also heal damaged LEV's, if the player "marks" them for Leo using the Geyser Subweapon.
The Vic Viper is damaged late in the game by Anubis, and crippled when Leo attempts to stop the activation of Aumaan, but manages to survive to the end of the game.
Its performance is impressive considering its status as an LEV, which is heavily implied by the game series' storyline to be the radically inferior mecha type used prior to the advent of the much more advanced Orbital Frames. Shinkawa states however, that the Vic Viper is a new hybrid of Earth technology and Orbital Frame technology.
According to the in between storyline on Konami's official website and storywriter notes, there were two Vic Viper prototypes aboard the frighter Atlantis before the start of the game. Unit 1 was piloted by Rock Thunderheart, a well built man whom aided Leo in the first game. Unit 2 is the one piloted by Leo, and later enhanced thanks to research of the Jehuty (which would explain its use of Gauntlet, and the Vector Trap like Options among other powerful weaponry far more advanced than the typical LEV). Thunderheart's Vic Viper is destroyed in battle prior to the start of the second game.
True to its name, the Vic Viper uses many of the traditional Gradius weapons and shields. When fighting the Vic Viper it slowly increases its option count to multiply its firepower, and often uses the Missiles and Twin Laser attack as well as the unexpected Ripple Laser. When fighting Vic Viper a female computer voice announces the creation of an option, the use of a weapon, or the use of shields in very similar fashion to the announcer in the classic Gradius games. "Leo Leo", the music set to the Vic Viper boss fight (as well as its stage in the unlockable versus mode), is also amusingly a short medley of two songs from the original Gradius, "The Aircraft Carrier" (also known as the "Boss Rush" song) and "Beat Back" (the second stage song), along with a number of audio cues from the boss battle music of the first Zone of the Enders. The Vic Viper in fighter mode is extremely fast and fights much as one would expect a 3D incarnation of the ship to fight, as well as the twist of having it change into a robot for more direct attack.
There is also unlockable parody of Gradius in the game titled "Zoradius", a pun on "Z.O.E" and "Gradius". In this one level mini game, the player controls Vic Viper (in its ZOE form) through a three-dimensional remake of the first stages of Gradius complete with power meter. The player battles against several of the smaller enemies in the game before running a gauntlet of Moai and ending in a Boss battle against the final part of the Train Boss in the game.
The Vic Viper is also selectable as a playable character in the games' unlockable versus mode. Its transformation abilities and its distinct Gradius style weapons are quite powerful and intimidating to the point where many believe the Vic Viper to be too powerful in the versus mode.
Although Zone of the Enders could be a prequel to Gradius, this Vic Viper a prototype to the one used in the game, Shinkawa has confirmed that they are separate entities.
Dance Dance Revolution
In DDRMAX2: Dance Dance Revolution 7th Mix, the Vic Viper made an appearance in the song "Burning Heat! (3 Option MIX)" (actually an edited version of from Beatmania IIDX 7th Style), both in the song's background image and background video. The song itself is a remixed version of the 1st Stage song from Gradius II. In the arcade version of Dance Dance Revolution SuperNOVA 2, the "Vic Viper" noteskin was unlocked as an option in the game.
In Dance Dance Revolution X, Vic Viper appears at the background video of "SABER WING" & "SABER WING (Akira Ishihara Headshot Mix)".
Guitar Freaks & Drummania
A rearrangement of Tachibachi appeared in the home version of Guitar Freaks & Drummania V3, using the FMV from the PS2 release "Gradius III & IV".
Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin
Completing Hard Mode with a level cap of 50 will get you an item called Vic Viper.
In the amusement park, there's a spaceship ride to activate. The spaceships on the ride are Vic Vipers and Lord Britishes.
The Vic Viper makes an appearance in the animated TV series Sky Girls first piloted by Captain Hizaki. In later episodes more appeared and became the main fighter of the military. The weapon system contains beam vulcans, missiles and charge shots as well as options. The final operation in the plot features a dozen of Vic Viper fighting along with the Sonic Diver team to fight off W.O.R.M. forces.
In Otomedius, Vic Viper is one of "riding vipers". The vessel is piloted by Aoba Anoa. Their design looks like Vic Viper's Moe anthropomorphism. Also, if you beat the game using Aoba. The Vic Viper appears in a cameo.
Some of the Gunplay challenges in the game's Challenge Mode have the player wielding a prototype gun that fires a spread of tiny Vic Vipers that home in on enemies.
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