In 1991, game design and programmer employees at Konami of Japan, tiring of sequel driven lookalike projects, left the company to form their own development studio, initially (and for several years after) fostered by Sega. They wanted to be valuable to gamers and chose to name themselves Treasure, debuting with a game seemingly plucked out of their Contra case history, injected with a lot of new ideas and story-savvy progression. Treasure made several critical successes with Sega's arrangement but grew restless when their titles did not break through outside of the otaku den. Treasure continued to work their titles as they saw fit, despite questionable marketability. After all, they were free of the sequel shackle.
Thirteen years later the same team that rebelled against their alma mater has willingly returned to present their own take on a sequel, rewarded with the honour of Konami's flagship title. Some of the staff are new to the Gradius battleground, but the core of creation worked on Gradius II and III, Axelay, Super Castlevania IV and a host of other Konami properties and licensed titles. They are all very practised in their art, and the expertise shows.
Gradius V is, wonderfully, a really, truly different Gradius. Rather than incorporating so many elements from previous games, the take here is to present them to you differently. It also merges the series with the Salamander/Life Force continuity much more solidly than has been done before, to the point that you may be tempted to think of Gradius V as Salamander II. (Or Life Force III, depending on how you take that splinter.) What do I mean by differently? Well your Options (called Multiples for the domestic version) are still there, but do more than simply take different formations. One Weapon Array configuration in particular is omnidirectional--this is no doubt a very large homage to The Thunder Force Legend (tm)and brings with it easily the most powerful weapon of the game, or the series for that matter. The Option Lock Array is quite powerful as well but fires only horizontally. The other two are an Option Formation Array and an Option Roll Array, both found in Gradius III. Choice of your Weapon Array can radically affect gameplay, hampering or helping your efforts on certain stages. To add some spice on-the-fly, the Weapon Array formation you choose is activated at will, meaning, hold down the R button and Options move to that formation. Release it and Options return to the standard follow-the-leader tactic.
The game is intense and novices will find it quite hard at the very beginning. Unlike most other Gradius games where the first stage is a freebie, you have to work this time through, all the way through; enemy placement at screen-entry is the same, but enemy fire and movement from most/certain enemies is dynamic--you're going to have to think fast to be sure, this is no R-TYPE memory pattern. You will lose quite a lot until you realise that the hit-box for the Vic Viper is incredibly tiny--perhaps only two pixels wide! It makes a hit a bit more humiliating and definitely all your fault. There has been a trend with shooters that resist the passage of time to go against this--I won't name names but you know the games already. The entire screen is laserised and there is no escape without resorting to total memorisation in order to clear the area of enemies before they fire, or worse, a gimmick tacked on as an excuse to unfairly punishing gameplay. Treasure's previous effort, Ikaruga, suffered from this slightly less than the worse, nameless offenders. But the tack here is that in the effort to twist the gameplay, they've hit the mark precisely. You literally are playing a two-dimensional shooter in ways you never have before when you find yourself improving at Gradius V. Sonically you find GV is something between Bjork, John Williams, and Trent Reznor (seriously), an altogether powerful soundtrack that manipulates your senses and reflexes.
I could go on and on about the high points of this game but Gradius V really does have some very serious flaws. No, not really, that was just a joke to make sure you were paying attention. There's nothing bad about this game at all. If you don't enjoy it the problem is entirely in your lap. It's great to see Konami and Treasure work together again. It is hard to say that a game like this could have ever worked out without the homecoming. Thematically, you are treated to a sweeping space opera with a dark atmosphere, something I scarcely recall Gradius being known for since the early (and little seen [in the USA]) Gradius II.
Now... I need a Thunder Force VI.
If you've read this far I'm going to spray you with a mini-personal entry. I've looked back at some previous blogs and found a lot of responses. I dig the input from anyone with the same hobby and to those people I need to say sorry about the lack of updates lately. I've got a lot of gamethings to spew about, and I'm in love. :)
More to come, this channel.
Posted on September 24, 2004 at 11:27 am
I've been light on the updates but that doesn't mean nothing has happened. The pictures should tell the story as well as the title.
*Note Nintendo 64
**Note Note, information on above game in linkage to your right.
Posted on August 5, 2004 at 4:00 pm
My post office rules.|
I got two games from one seller on ebay, he was nice enough to combine shipping which was good because with express shipping we're talking about nearly thirty bucks going into it twice. (More than the auction price on the games.) In an unrelated issue had some problems getting my paypal addresses to sync with my ebay shipping address listings last week as well--I don't think this had anything to do with the problem I later had here but it could be a factor.
Late last night I received an email from the seller that the North Miami post office called to let him know that he didn't provide an apartment number--he told me in the email that no apartment number was given to him from ebay, after a quick check on my paypal and ebay personal information I saw that every address listed for my apartment did in fact have the apartment number, but no matter, I just resolved to call the p.o. today and have it straightened out.
When I got through to the p.o. I told the person answering that I was calling about a package that arrived there via express and before I could get another word out the lady said "Are you Michael?" Yes, Owens--wow. Just. Wow. Haven't had the full treatment from the Uncle Sam crew in a while, but they're still there. I don't know how, but, they're there. :)
Posted on July 21, 2004 at 7:50 am
I Want Candy, by M.C. Pee Pants|
I want candy, bubblegum and taffy.
Skip to the sweet shop with my sweetheart, Sandy.
Got my pennies saved. so I'm a sugar daddy.
I'm her Hume Cronyn, she my Jessica Tandy.
I want candy!
I need candy, bubble gum and taffy,
Gonna get your ass beat nasty,
Do it so your dad sees, embarrass your whole family
Just cuz you came between a kid and his candy.
I need candy, any kind will do
Don't care if it's nutritious or FDA approved.
It's gonna make me spaz like bobcats on booze,
A hyperactive juice that only I can produce
To fuel a giant drill to bore straight into hell
Releasing ancient demons from their sleep-forever spell
So they can walk upon the earth and get resituated
And hawk the diet pills MC Pee Pants has created.
Mess up the mix, mix up the mess
Come on down, yo here's the address
6-1-2 Wharf Avenue
6-1-2 Wharf Avenue
Posted on July 20, 2004 at 7:24 am
This will teach me to write better titles before I read CNN for the day.
Bobby Fischer found in Japan. Just let the guy be already.
Posted on July 16, 2004 at 10:19 am
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