Review by BakaOrochi

Reviewed: 07/28/04

This isn't your grandfather's Gradius

Being a Gradius fan since it came out on NES back in 1987, while I thought it was relatively easy at first, I found it to be horribly addicting. The music, as primitive as it is compared to today's standard, was still catchy (in fact, I still pop the arcade soundtrack in every once in a full moon for nostalgia's sake), and the graphics were...well, for what it was worth, it wasn't bad.

Gradius V finally is a sequel worthy of being held as a Gradius title. Unlike the atrocity known as Gradius IV, V finally shows a balance of originality, challenge, with incredible graphics and sound. While it wasn't exactly what I expected from a title that was delayed for more than a year, it still is what I hoped it to be.

So expect me to review this with a bit of comparison to Gradius IV.

Graphics 9/10
For a SHMUP, it's a very pretty SHMUP. Treasure/Konami held nothing back, and went all out on graphics, and definitely shows, rather than cheesy 3D blobs that were often apparent in IV. Some enemies take up entire screens, something that I would expect from Treasure, thus making it hard to maneuver around. The explosion effects are spectacular, and the shot effects are very cool. One of my grudges however, are the enemy bullets are sometimes difficult to see, and can just blend with the backgrounds. It also could be my 13" TV, but I doubt it.

Sounds 8/10
While I wasn't wholly caught by the music right away (as Gradius III in my opinion has the best soundtrack next to Gradius I and II), the sounds were not as dinky as IV, so that's definitely a plus. The overhead voice however is pretty annoying...but comparing it to Gradius IV, it's not as bad.

Controls 8/10
What bugged me the most besides the default button layout was the fact that your Vic Viper starts out incredibly slow, but each Speed Up adds a very small percentage of speed, unlike previous Gradius's. One Speed Up is not very noticeable, and controlling your ship can be an incredible pain. Otherwise, once you get enough Speed Ups, it maneuvers like a charm.

Features 6/10
I don't expect much so far, but compared to what Gradius III & IV had to offer, this seems pretty thin. But the replay value far makes up for that.

Replay 7/10
Unless you're a SHMUP whiz, you may be finding yourself pulling your hair out the first few times playing. If you enjoy replaying SHMUPs to try to figure out the best way to take out the level and for Score Attack, this has got enough to keep you busy. As of yet though, I have not been able to unlock any features...but then again, what else would you expect in a SHMUP?

Overall 8/10
It's very pretty, and a huge graphical and sound boost from Gradius IV. This has a Treasure feel to it rather than a Gradius, but in a good way. I haven't figured out any real story, but then again, who needs a story? The sound effects and music are great, the graphics are just...beautiful, and it controls like a charm, not to mention a good difficulty level to keep you replaying this game, and it won't keep you bored.

If you're a fan of Gradius, and was dissatisfied with IV, V will not disappoint.

Rating:   4.0 - Great

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