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December 10, 2004
Gradius V - Review
Release Date Distributor Developer Players Rating Difficulty
2/11/2004AtariKonami TYO /
Save Size Sound Format Vibration 60Hz Mode 50Hz Border Widescreen

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Using the laser.
Some say the true measure of a hardcore gamer is owning the elitist of hardcore gaming systems, the Neo Geo. In my opinion, however, the hardcore gamer also need to be a fan of the most pure game there is, the side scrolling shooter. One such legendary series is Konami's Gradius. The first Gradius arrived in the arcades back in 1985 - almost 20 years ago no! Since then Konami have released 37 different ports and versions of the games on a variety of platforms including MSX, PC88, Famicom (NES), Gameboy, Super Famicom (SNES), PC Engine, Sega Saturn, Sony Playstation, and Playstation 2 (as well as a couple of other more obscure systems).

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Dodge the asteroids!
The developers at at Konami TYO (who also developed Gradius Gaiden and Gradius IV) have stayed true to the roots of the series, that being frantic action and precision required for success. Indeed gamers who have played games in the series in the last couple of years will quickly realise that Konami have taken a back to basics approach and stripped away many of the spectacular and over the top weapons. The X button is used to fire weapons, the circle to engage the power up, and the R1 button to rotate the weapons/aim them when needed. Fortunately this remains an impressively playable game and Konami, with the help of Treasure, have returned the series to the glory days.

Another change is the instant respawn where you die, rather then repeating from a checkpoint (although this is still available from the options menu if you prefer this method). It may make the game a little easier, but not by much and really is a welcome addition.

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The wonderful 3D effects.
My biggest issue with Gradius V is the difficulty. Even on Very Easy you're going to have to have the "Moment of Clarity" type of gaming sessions to get through this game. It's tough and Konami/Treasure really should have looked at this to make the game more accessible to casual gamers - but then again perhaps games today are just too soft. I can't remember how many games I've been through recently without dying more then once or twice.

As you can probably tell from the surrounding screenshots this game looks quite spectacular - probably the best that any side scrolling shooter has ever looked. While still a 2D shooter the 3D graphics really add a sense of depth and atmosphere. While Gradius V has some small amounts of slowdown, but much less then R-Type Final. The effects such as laser blasts and explosions look stunning however it's the organic look of many of the levels that really stands out.

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Nice explosion...
Sound is certainly the most disappointing aspect of this title. The music for starters is OK, but certainly nothing to remember as it fades into distant memory pretty quickly. The special effects are also little better. The explosions are there, but hardly shake the room as you would expect.

It has been a long wait for Gradius V following its announcement at Konami's Gamers Day Conference in January 2003, but it's nice to see a company making sure a game is as polished as possible prior to release... Everything in Gradius V gels together pretty well and fans of the genre and series are likely to love this title. Fortunately it's different enough from the recently released R-Type Final to justify purchasing both superb titles.

Review By: Dave Warner

GRAPHICSSimply stunning. This is probably the pinnacle of shoot 'em ups.
SOUNDOne of the weakest aspects is the music, I've heard worse though.
GAMEPLAYGoing back to its roots this game is a blast and will have you hooked.
VALUEHow many times can you play the same levels? Not many extras.
OVERALLGradius V is a game for the hardcore, and the curious. The graphics and gameplay are superb and will have you wondering why there aren't more games like this any more. Certainly one worth adding to your collection.

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