Review by choc66
A treasure of all sorts
Gradius has been around for roughly 20 years making its debut in arcades. It offered an innovative power up system and gameplay that challenged reflexes. Fast forward to now and we have the the first new Gradius entry on a 128 bit system, not counting gradius 3+4 :)
Developed by treasure, and published by Konami, did konami do the right thing by letting treasure develop it?
The first thing you will notice is the games graphics. The game plays as a 2D gradius would, but with nice 3D backgrounds, similar to Contra: Shattered Soldier.
After you get past the obvious graphics, you'll find gradius 5 is a mix of old classic gradius games, as well as newer shooters. The first stage will remind you of the older days as you shoot rows of enemies to obtain the power ups, before your thrown into the action. Speaking of powerups, Gradius 5 follows older gradius games style of powerup, in that you have the classic speed up powerup, double, missile, laser etc all in the same order.
Being developed by Treasure, makers of great shoot em ups such as Radiant Silvergun, and the more recent Ikaruga, who are known for there intense shoot em ups, you would expect Gradius 5 to be action packed, and Gradius 5 does not dissapoint in this area.
The stages are well designed, with enemies lurking everywhere. You'll rarely have a break from the action, because you'll be avoiding, killing enemies, or big bosses, but thanks to the stage design, it doesnt feel impossible, and getting though the stages, such as stage 5's asteroid field is great satisfaction. Most time you will be moving right, but there are times you will have to move left, up, and down too. Bosses are great fun, and many of the bosses take on muliple forms, just when you think you have killed the boss, it will take on another form, and boss battles are the highlight of the game, and only 1 boss was a walkover, which was dissapointing. I guarantee you during boss battles, you'll have plenty of near miss hits coming from the boss, and this guarantees sweaty hand gameplay :)
Gradius 5 does introduce some new things to the series. Vic Viper can now avoid bullets easier thanks to the introduction of a hit area, basically this means your ship can only be hit in a little area, and if your hit there, you die. 2 Players can now play simiultaneously. Another great new thing is when you die, the game goes on and you just jump right back into the action, you can even pick up your options as they remain where you died. Theres also 4 types of power ups to choose from, the major differences are the "options" Options are round objects the fly by your side, and are invincible, and shoot exactly the same as how you are powered up. New to Gradius 5 are different types of Options. One type of Option shoots straight, another Type of Option can be rotated 360 degrees to make shooting from all sorts of angles easier, another type of option will circle around your ship, and so forth. A great thing is when you finish the game, you will unlock weapon edit, which lets you mix and match your favorite type of weapons, and options into one line.
Speaking of Finishing the game, this game is tough, very tough, but not to the point of frustration. You wont finish the game in your first turn, shoot em up veterans will probably need 7-8 tries to beat the game, while others will require 15-20 tries, even on very easy, its still very hectic. Thanks to the game design, you have limited continues, which means you have to constantly strive to get further and further with what you have. After every hour of gameplay, you are given another continue, which means you should be able to get further, which means more gameplay, which means more continues. After 17 hours though, your given unlimited continues.
Once you get to a stage, you unlock it in stage select, where you can practise it over and over and over. Gamers can also enjoy a internet scoring contest, where you try to get as high score as possible on default settings, then your given a password to enter into Konamis appropriate site, depending what version of the game your playing, NTSC or PAL. PAL gamers have until DEC 31 to post there best score
The game does contain a story, though its preety cheesy, it seems like it was thrown together at the last minute.
There are a couple of let downs. The soundtrack for one, gradius games have good soundtracks, and apart from stage 3, i wasnt too impressed with techno beats. The backgrounds can interfere with the on screen action at times, which means there will be some unnecessary deaths.
While it has little cons, this is a great game for casual and hardcore gamers. Plenty of action, huge bosses, and heaps or replayability means you'll be playing it for a long time to come. If you enjoyed R type Final, you'll fall in love with this. And being a budget priced title, means you should go and buy it NOW :)
Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
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