Thunder Force V
|Thunder Force V|
North American PlayStation cover art
Thunder Force V is a side-scrolling shooter video game developed by Technosoft's the fifth chapter of the Thunder Force series. It was initially released in 1997 exclusively in Japan for the Sega Saturn with two retail versions, the normal pack which was just a standard release, and a special pack which contained a remix music CD of various Thunder Force music (entitled Best of Thunder Force, which was later released separately). In 1998, Thunder Force V was ported to the PlayStation in Japan and released as Thunder Force V: Perfect System. It was published in North America by Working Designs under the SPAZ label.
The stage format has the same horizontally aligned orientation of previous games and only stretch to the size of a TV screen as in Thunder Force III. The biggest change in the look of the game is the use of three dimensional polygons to model the game sprites and some of the scenery (instead of the two dimensional sprites in previous games). This change gives the appearance of 3-D objects scrolling against a 2-D backgrounds, which is commonly referred to as a "2.5-D" effect.
As in Thunder Force IV, the player can choose the play order of the starting stages, but now only for the first three stages. The same speed gauge from Thunder Force IV is used, and is operated the same way. The only difference between the weapon system of this game from Thunder Force III and IV is that there are no longer any items to enhance the players' default weapons. Instead, they are automatically enhanced at a later point in the game and the enhanced versions become new defaults. All the weapons have appeared in previous Thunder Force games, but a few have been changed radically.
The CLAWs (now referred to as CRAWs - Constitutional Ray Art Weapon units) have a few changes from previous games. They still rotate around the player's ship, absorb enemy fire, and act as extra turrets for your weapons, but now a maximum of three CRAWs can be used. In addition, they remain on screen for a finite period of time upon ship destruction, giving the player a chance to recollect them. A new feature in Thunder Force V involving the CRAWs is the use of the "Over Weapon". By pressing the appropriate button, the player's CRAWs will combine with the currently selected weapon to create a more powerful version of that weapon. Over Weapons can only be sustained for a limited period of time by using CRAW energy. As an Over Weapon is used, the CRAW will shrink in size and gradually change color, indicating its energy is being depleted. CRAWs will recharge their energy automatically over time when not being used for firing the Over Weapon. Collecting new CRAWs will replace the player's existing CRAWs if they are depleted. If a CRAW is red, it will be destroyed by the next bullet it absorbs.
Graphically, the Sega Saturn version of Thunder Force V is superior, as it features special effects not present in its PlayStation counterpart. A good comparison of the differences can be found in Stage 3 "Human Road", in which some extra graphical touches found in the Saturn game were removed when ported to the PlayStation. The Saturn version also has better sound quality (CDDA) than the PlayStation version (ADPCM). However, the PlayStation version features extra artwork, CG rendered movie sequences, additive BGMs, game modes, and other easter eggs that the Saturn version lacks, and shows less slowdown than the Saturn counterpart.
The setting of Thunder Force V takes the player away from the conflict between the Galaxy Federation and the ORN Empire as chronicled in the previous games, and brings us to Earth in the future. After the events of Thunder Force IV, the fighter craft FIRE LEO-04 "Rynex" drifted into the Sol System where it was captured and studied by Earth scientists. On Earth's moon they built a massive man-made island known as Babel, and then constructed the supercomputer Guardian to delve into the mysteries of the ship. Guardian not only proved it was capable of deciphering the Vasteel's complex systems through reverse engineering, but also in implementing and advancing the technology which had made the Rynex so formidable as a starfighter. From that point on, every major discovery of that era was attributed to Vasteel and the many wonders that the ship contained.
Guardian later achieved full consciousness and in return, began to deliver massive strikes against the Earth itself. The Unified Earth government was swiftly defeated, and their last hope is Cenes Crawford and a hotshot group of ace pilots who are sent against Guardian and its forces. They succeed, but they learn that Guardian was letting them win. The supercomputer initiated a massive self-destruction command destroying most of the allies ships. Cenes then flies her ship into the command ship of Guardian. After fighting and defeating Guardian's core, Cenes ship takes massive damage. Rather than wait until her life support fails, she opts to destroy her ship in an act of suicide.
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James Mielke from GameSpot gave the PlayStation version a review score of 8.2/10, stating, "easily as good as Raystorm or G-Darius and tough competition for Einhander, Thunder Force V is a shooting fan's dream."
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- James Mielke: Thunder Force V for PlayStation Review. GameSpot, 1998-08-31. Retrieved on 2009-02-03.