TNL 3.0 - Site SelectVideogamesMax AnimeForums

The Next Level - Features


MainNewsReviewsPreviewsFeaturesContactsLink to UsStaff



Feature TNL Show and Tell: Gradius V Breakdown DVD 10/22/2004
Two decades of side-scrolling bliss

Normally, when a company releases a promo DVD for a game it ends up being nothing special. An interview with the game director, maybe some bad voiceovers on some non-playable game video, and that's pretty much it. With the Gradius V Breakdown DVD, Konami looked to break our expectations and give out something that's actually worth owning.

Arriving about two weeks after the game did (and if you reserved it at GameStop and still haven't gotten it, get over there now and ask for what you earned), this DVD stretches the definition of the word "presell." On the other hand, it turned out far nicer than we had any right to expect, containing not only expert playthroughs of the first five levels but also a complete history of the Gradius series, including intro movies from the console versions of the arcade games as well as gameplay footage of all the games. There's also an interview with game director Yasushi Takano; although, oddly the one interview is in a section clearly marked as "Interviews." For the completists or the obsessively curious I've listed off the full menu selection below.

  • Gradius V
    • Masterview
      • Levels 1
      • Level 2
      • Level 3
      • Level 4
      • Level 5
    • Bonus Movies
      • E3 2003 Trailer
      • E3 2004 Trailer
    • Ship Gallery
      • Lots of pictures of enemies
    • Interviews
      • Game Director Yasushi Takano
  • History of Gradius
    • 1981 - Scramble
      • Gameplay
    • 1985 - Gradius
      • Gameplay
      • Gradius Deluxe Pack Intro
    • 1986 - Salamander
      • Gameplay
      • Salamander Deluxe Pack Intro 1
      • Salamander Deluxe Pack Intro 2
    • 1987 - Lifeforce
      • Gameplay
      • Salamander Deluxe Pack Intro 1
      • Salamander Deluxe Pack Intro 2
    • 1988 - Gradius II
      • Intro
      • Gameplay
      • Gradius Deluxe Pack Intro
    • 1989 - Gradius III
      • Intro
      • Gameplay
      • Gradius III & IV Intro 1
      • Gradius III & IV Intro 2
    • 1990 - Nemesis
      • Gameplay
    • 1990 - Parodius Da!
      • Intro
      • Gameplay
    • 1992 - Gradius Interstellar Assault
      • Gameplay
    • 1994 - Gokujou Parodius
      • Gameplay
    • 1996 - Salamander 2
      • Intro
      • Gameplay
      • Salamander Deluxe Pack Intro 1
      • Salamander Deluxe Pack Intro 2
    • 1996 - Jikkyou Oshaberi Parodius (Forever With Me)
      • Gameplay
    • 1996 - Sexy Parodius
      • Gameplay
    • 1997 - Gradius Gaiden
      • Intro 1
      • Intro 2
      • Gameplay
    • 1999 - Gradius IV
      • Intro
      • Gameplay
      • Gradius III & IV Intro 1
      • Gradius III & IV Intro 2
    • 2001 - Gradius Galaxies
      • Intro
      • Gameplay

Normally I let the pictures speak for themselves but there's enough going on here that a little explanation couldn't hurt things. So, here we go.

First off, packaging. It's a cheap cardboard sleeve that, fortunately, fits inside the Gradius V game itself so at least it won't get lost. Nothing special here.

Gradius V Breakdown packaging Gradius V Breakdown packaging

Next up is the Gradius V section of the disk. The pink tunnel is from Level 4 and the bit with the asteroids is from Level 5. Needless to say, watching somebody not die at all through some of the barrages ranges from interesting to jaw-dropping. We've also got Yasushi Takano admitting that some of the earlier work they did on it wasn't as impressive as it would later become.

Gradius V Level 4 Gradius V Level 5 Gradius V Breakdown interview

On the history side of things, we've got a complete retrospective of every Gradius game ever made, although maybe not for every platform. In addition to gameplay footage there's also the FMV intros from the arcade compilation packs as well as the in-game intros and even box cover art. The first picture is an amazing shot of a menu screen, so the excitable among you may want to take a few deep breaths before looking too closely. Next up is what Konami considers the first game in the Gradius series, the old arcade game Scramble. Rounding it out are two games we never got in the U.S., Sexy Parodius from the arcade and Saturn and the PlayStation-only Gradius Gaiden.

Gradius V Breakdown Scramble
Sexy Parodius Gradius Gaiden

Gradius is a series with a history, twenty years worth if you include Scramble, which Konami apparently does. As promos go, laying out a twenty-year history is pretty impressive, and getting expert play videos for the game it's a promo for is icing on the cake. DVD promos are almost uniformly unimpressive and it's great to see Konami buck that trend and make something worth having. Now how about selling me a compilation game with all the Gradiuses and Parodiuses (Gradii? Parodii?) on them?

· · · James Cunningham

2004 The Next Level