Gradius V (2004)

by Nish
5 minutes read


Gradius V (2004) is a classic shoot-’em-up game developed by Treasure. It features intense difficulty, strategic gameplay, and the iconic Vic Viper spaceship. Despite criticisms of its steep learning curve and limited content, it remains a beloved entry in the Gradius series.


Gradius V is a classic shoot-’em-up game that blends traditional gameplay with modern elements. Developed by Treasure, it offers a challenging yet rewarding experience for fans of the genre.


“Gradius V” is set predominantly in outer space, where players control a fictional spacecraft called Vic Viper through a continuously scrolling background depicting the territories of Bacterian—an evil empire which serves as the player’s enemy. The game takes place as a 2D scrolling shooter with the Vic Viper contending with formations of enemies, both stationary and moving, that fire bullets. Players go through levels consisting of open space and others consisting of maneuvering through close quarters which alter between horizontal and vertical scrolling. Should players come into contact with anything on the screen, the Vic Viper explodes, and they lose a life.

In Gradius V, the hit box (the pixels which must be touched by an object to destroy the ship) has been reduced in size to allow players to get through small areas more easily. Gradius V marks the first time in the series in which players can reappear immediately and resume the game from where they lose a life. Alternatively, players may also restart at a previously cleared checkpoint depending on the game’s settings. If all lives are lost players have the option to continue and restart the game from where they left off. Players receive extra lives after scoring a certain number of points as indicated in the game’s settings1, and players may receive extra continues depending on how much total playing time has been accumulated. The game can be played with one player or with two players simultaneously.

After players start the game, they will enter a “Select Weapon Array” screen, where they may select the types of power-ups they will use through the course of the game. There is also an unlockable feature called “Weapon Edit” in which players can access if certain conditions are met. In this mode, they can customize the Vic Viper with various combinations of weapons found in the “Select Weapon Array” screen, from earlier Gradius games, or new weaponry.

The plot of the game is set in the year 8010, where the planet Gradius is once again invaded by the alien Bacterians, who assemble a large-scale assault force to destroy its enemies. Long ago, a destructive life form, born from the dark depths of space, was annihilated in an arduous battle with the Gradius Army. However, remnants of the life form’s cells floating in an unnoticed pocket of the universe somehow survived. Slowly but surely the cells multiplied, and eventually began to form into a new type of Bacterian cell. Suddenly, an orbiting space station took massive damage from a Zelos Force surprise attack. The Gradius Army quickly developed a counter strategy. Vic Viper, a super spatial-temporal fighter belonging to the Wide Range Strike Support Unit, took flight to counterattack.


The main character is the iconic spaceship, Vic Viper. Other notable elements include the floating drones known as ‘multiples’ or ‘options’ that assist in combat.


Gradius V features classic side-scrolling shoot-’em-up action, with a strategic weapon configuration system and intense difficulty levels. Players can choose from different weapon setups and must master the use of power-ups to survive.


Gradius V stands as a testament to the enduring appeal of the shoot-’em-up genre, offering a pure and challenging experience for both newcomers and veterans alike.

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