Gradius has been around for 20 years. To be honest, I had never played a single Gradius game. I know it’s sad, but I didn’t know about this series until a few years back. So, I decided to go to Gamefly.com and rent the latest in the Gradius series, Gradius 5 for the Playstation 2. After a while of actually getting it onto the top of my list, and finally getting it, I have got a thought about it. Was it worth the wait? Or was it a buzz kill, like Superman 64?
Basically, the game still follows the story of Vic Viper, who is the only hero of the human-inhabited planet, Gradius. Vic Viper must protect the planet from the evil Bacteriuon forces that want to take over the universe and blah blah blah, you get the idea. Yeah, the story isn’t going to blow you away like Final Fantasy or Metal Gear Solid, but with a game like Gradius, would you really want a story to care about?
The game play is of a classic 2D side-scrolling shooter like R-Type, Raiden, and Axelay. At the beginning of the game, you choose one ship out of four to start the game with. The ships themselves don’t change, but the power-ups are different for each one. One of the weapon in the series is an orange orb that shoots lasers at the same time you shoot them, and can take any position you want it to, depending on which ship you choose. You can also control it with the R1 button to keep it moving all around.
The graphics are pretty impressive. Yeah, it’s not Final Fantasy 12 or Odin Sphere, but that’s what makes Gradius 5’s graphics so cool. We have to remember that graphics are an art style, and all game graphics are going to be different, and that is what Treasure is doing right, making graphics look as good as they want. The music is also very fun to listen to, full of techno beats for all the Daft Punk fans out in the world. I think they would like these beats. It’s no wonder since Hitoshi Sakimoto, the same person who did the soundtrack for Final Fantasy Tactics and Odin Sphere, composed this soundtrack that has some original beats, but some are also remixed from past Gradius games. I also like the look of the boss fights and enemies. The controls are very responsive, and aren’t sluggish or skittish, and with a game like Gradius, you need super good controls.
Now, it is time to shoot down the bad parts. First off, I think the difficulty level is set WAY too high. I mean, I like a good challenge in a game, but the challenge in Gradius 5 is just set way too high. I can’t see a little kid picking up this game and enjoying it because of the difficulty setting. I mean, yeah, with a little practice you can get pretty good at it, but still, I think it turns me off when the difficulty setting is so tedious. I also think it’s disappointing that there are only 4 ships to choose from. It’s been 15 years since the last one, and they can’t give us like 5 more ships or something? Even though this is just a small gripe, I just think it sucks to lose all your power-ups when you get shot. Let’s look at another good shooter like Mars Matrix for the Dreamcast. When you get shot, you keep all your power-ups, which is awesome. I also think there needs to be a small health bar, like in the 1940 shooter series from Capcom.
Overall, this is a good game, but it’s hard to recommend it to everyone. I could only recommend it to retro gamers who like old-fashioned shooters. I would say, rent it to try it out, but I will warn you new gamers that it’s a really hard game, so be prepared to endure its difficulty.
This game gets a 6.9 out of 10