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Gradius V
  opened by paleface at 21:32:01 09/26/04  
  last modified by paleface at 12:27:18 03/05/24  
  paleface [sys=PS2; cat=Shooter_Horiz; reg=NA]
Reference added: 105
  "Gradius Gaiden and V--two kick-ass 3D side-scrolling shooters."
The 3D-havin', framerate lovin' side of Treasure kicks out what may very well be the bestest Gradius ever--I can't say for sure yet, but I do think I like it better than Gradius Gaiden (see entry 105), my previous fave. Interestingly, neither of these came from Konami's classic Gradius team.
As far as basic gameplay goes, Treasure didn't stray far from the tried and true Gradius powerup-buying, hard-as-a-bag-of-nuts tradition. Not at first glance, anyway. The largest up-front changes are simultaneous two-player (Gaiden has this as well), and a Score Attack mode. You can take your high score code online to get ranked or something.
But the developers just made the whole experience a lot nicer to get into than the elder Gradii. The graphics and sound really are quite lush, with little to no slowdown during gameplay. But more importantly, the gameplay itself doesn't have that nasty old argh-now-I'm-hosed feel that the old ones did. You don't feel like a complete useless slug right out of the gate somehow, for instance, and the speed powerups give you a nice boost, but not one that sends you careening into the nearest wall. Your default gun power is nothing to be scoffed at. Best of all, when you die, not only do you come back right where you croaked (you can switch this to the old Gradius checkpoint system if you prefer), you also get a chance to nab any Options (they call them "Multiples" here) that you had when you got nailed. So of course, you really want to buy up on Options first, then go for the tasty stuff like Bomb, Shield, and Laser.
Strangely there's no auto-buy option like almost all other semi-recent Gradius and Gradius-offshoot titles, but the pacing of this game, while never letting you feel bored, allows nice little breathers for making wise purchases, most of the time.
You get four or five weapon loadouts to select from to start with, and I understand later on you start unlocking other weapons from other Gradius games, such as the Ripple Laser, and can edit your loadout freely. I kind of wish you could do that from the start but ah well.
For my money, to start with there's really nothing worth taking aside from option 2. Not only do you get both up and down bombs, you also get the directional Multiples, whose direction of fire you can change by holding down the Multiple control button and moving the stick. Very handy for clearing the diagonal halls the game throws at you, or aiming at particular nodes on a boss.
And oh, the boss fights. I've only seen two so far, because I suck at the game of course, but them bosses are nice and epic, with memorable attack patterns and, for the most part, multiple configurations. Good old Treasure. The smoothness of play reminds me a lot of their Ikaruga (see entry 129), but here backed by the solid meat-and-potatoes Gradius gameplay rather than the puzzle action of their own inventive vertical shooter. This game ain't brain surgery, but it is really good shooting fun, and currently vying with Border Down (see entry 346) as the favorite non-cute-'em-up horizontal shooter among those that I own.
  paleface 01:19:24 05/26/05
I had some trouble with this co-op--there were so many effects going off that I found it difficult to keep track of my ship. I need to learn it single-player, I think.
· Gradius Gaiden (PS1)
· Ikaruga (DC)

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