Long ago, the Gradius army destroyed an evil life form that was threatening the galaxy. But somehow some of the Bacterian cells survived, and a new army has appeared ready to take over the galaxy! The Gradius forces have developed a super spatial-temporal fighter (called the Vic Viper) which you must pilot in order to destroy all of the enemies. The gameplay in Gradius V is an arcade style shooter and is very similar to the other games in the series. You need to guide the Vic Viper through a series of side scrolling screens and destroy the many enemies that appear (including several very large bosses). Although you begin the game with very limited firepower, additional weapons can be acquired. After destroying certain enemies, a power up capsule is left behind; collecting these will advance the weapon selector. When the weapon you want is selected after collecting enough capsules, you can activate it to equip the Vic Viper with that weapon. Your choices are speed up, missiles, double fire, lasers, multiples (these circle the Vic Viper providing additional firepower), and force fields. As you progress through the game, short animated cut scenes will reveal the story, and the enemies become tougher and more numerous. The game is somewhat customizable, allowing you to set the controls, difficulty level, and number of lives you begin with.