Thunder Force V is a scrolling shooter game developed by Tecno Soft. It is the fifth chapter of the Thunder Force series. It was initially released in 1997 exclusively in Japan for the Sega Saturn with two retail versions, the normal pack which was just a standard release, and a special pack which contained a remix music CD of various Thunder Force series music entitled Best of Thunder Force. In 1998, Thunder Force V was ported to the PlayStation in Japan and released as Thunder Force V: Perfect System. It was released in the US by Working Designs (under the SPAZ label).
The setting of Thunder Force V takes the player away from the conflict between the Galaxy Federation and the ORN Empire as chronicled in the previous games, and brings us to Earth in the future. At the very end of Thunder Force IV, the pilots of the fighter craft Fire LEO-04 "Rynex" were forced to eject from their ship due to a massive explosion caused by the destruction of their final target, the Vios Fortress. The explosion damaged Rynex severely, but did not destroy the powerful starfighter. Some time later in 2106 (it is not specified how long), Rynex drifted into the Solar System and reached the Oort Cloud, where the craft was picked up by the EASA probe SEKIKA 3, which had been built by the Unified Earth Government for the exploration of the cloud. After analyzing the craft, the probe brought the Rynex back to Earth's moon, where a massive lunar station manned by Earth's brightest was soon launched in an effort to pick apart the craft's extraordinarily sophisticated weapons and power systems.
The only problem was that the Rynex was so far advanced than Earth technology that it was impossible for the scientists to even realize how each of the systems worked - let alone how they were built. Finally, they built a massive man-made island in the South Pacific Ocean known as Babel, and then constructed the supercomputer Guardian to delve into the mysteries of the ship. Since the ship's cockpit was missing, it was impossible to know anything of the aliens whom had built the craft, so the scientists dubbed the unseen race as the "Vastians" (an Esperanto word meaning "Great Distance"), and renamed the Rynex "The Vastian's Steel" or "Vasteel" for short. The plan worked, as Guardian not only proved it was capable of deciphering Vasteel's complex systems through reverse engineering, but also in implementing and advancing the technology which had made the Rynex so formidable as a starfighter. From that point on, every major discovery of that era was attributed to Vasteel and the many wonders that the ship contained. Since Vasteel technology made star travel possible for Mankind, the Unified Earth Government tasked Guardian with building vast fleets of interstellar ships which they had planned to use for colonizing other planets.
Unknown to the public was that the fleet produced in Babel by Guardian were in fact, a heavily armed armada of warships, which came to be known as the Sword Fleet. After the Turing Code (a security program which dampened Guardian's AI) was mysteriously deleted from the system, Guardian achieved full consciousness and in return, began to deliver massive strikes against the Earth itself. The Unified Earth government was swiftly defeated, but their last attempt was in sending Cenes Crawford and a hotshot group of ace pilots against Guardian and its forces using the RVR-01 "Gauntlet" starfighter series which had been designed and built before the computer's rogue annihilation of half of Earth's population. The Earth Side Combat Unit No.222, now renamed as Thunder Force 222, it was the responsibility of the group to assemble and fight Guardian's forces across the planet in an attempt to destroy the computer and wrest back control of the Earth itself. Prior to this fight, Cenes herself has already died twice, but a particular brand of Vasteel technology has enabled a greater use for cloning than ever before - a program which is known as "Circulate-Death". Cenes and the other pilots of 3-2 are all C-D members - ace pilots who've died at some point while in military service but because of their unrelenting skill, are needed to pilot the complex Gauntlet fighters as ordinary pilots were deemed too unqualified to be in command of such craft. In an act of defiance, the pilots approached their mission with vigor, and were widely successful in their attempts as well, until Cenes made a discovery: Guardian was LETTING them win the entire time, repeatedly pulling back and retreating from battle scenarios even when it had the advantage. Cenes couldn't believe that Guardian was letting them hustle it, but when the supercomputer initiated a massive self destruction command which destroyed the Sword Fleet, she decided to fly her RVR-02 "Vambrace" starfighter into Judgement Sword – the command ship which Guardian had uploaded its central core into.
After fighting Guardian's core, the AI transmitted a message to Cenes, and also asked something else of her, which she thought about long after the battle was concluded and her ship itself was essentially dead, floating through space. Cenes resolved herself to this fact in the knowledge that she would have to finally die, and stay dead- as Guardian's retaliation and subsequent destruction of the majority of the Earth's populated areas had also destroyed the military complex where the DNA profiles of the C-D pilots were stored. So in effect this was Cenes third, and albeit, final life. Cenes realized that she could either stay up in space and watch as her ship lost life support and she died – or she could trigger a power surge that would rip the ship apart and destroy it completely. It is no wonder that Cenes opted for the latter option, as she discloses all of the information she's learned about Guardian in a last ditch transmission to the Unified Earth Government. In closing, she tells them that Guardian's last words were "May Fortune be with you...." and then she states: "Now for my last words.....I hope this ship blows up REAL good!"
The truth behind the Guardian's decisionEdit
It is later discovered that Guardian went rogue after downloading Rynex's history into its own archive. It has been rumored that the AI's system couldn't handle the horrific details of the true race which had built the Rynex. In knowing that the RVR-02 Vambrace would cause the same destruction of the human race as Rynex had done in its latter service, Guardian implored Cenes to destroy the ship. At least by ensuring the destruction of all Vasteel technology, the world would continue on as it had before the Rynex was even discovered.
Taking into account the events of previous Thunder Force games, it would appear that what happened to Guardian was even more horrific. Thunder Force IV's ending implies that Khaos, the AI that controlled the ORN Empire, possessed the abandoned Rynex. Presumably, it was still present when humanity discovered Rynex and re-christened it Vasteel. When Guardian attempted to analyze Vasteel's databanks, Khaos took the opportunity to possess it as well, along with the entire Babel, and essentially attempt to create a new ORN Empire by destroying and remaking Earth with Vasteel technology. This would fully explain why Guardian wanted Cenes to destroy Vambrace, with Babel critically damaged and both Rynex and Judgement Sword gone, the RVR-02 was the only possible host left for Khaos. As a result, Vambrace's destruction would bring final death to Khaos and its evil machinations.
- RVR-01 Gauntlet: The first official version of Rynex's technology adapted to human needs.
- RVR-02 Vambrace: A newer and highly powerful starfighter developed by the U.E.G., its only problem was that it consumed a lot of finances and resources to be built. Therefore, it was the only one produced.
- RVR-02B Brigandine: The Brigandine is actually the Vambrace, equipped with a larger and higher power payload. The Brigandine also boasts more fuel, and a shielding system. The only drawback is that the brigadine is also a huge target.
Guardian uses these commanders to ensure its stringent purging process:
- Deep Purple: I saw the Messenger of the New God there.
- Iron Maiden: Dead, yet alive, it fears nothing and decimates everything / She was dead, but alive at the same time
- A3 (Armament Armed Arm): It was destroyed three times, and rebuilt twice / It dies three times and was reborn twice
- Guardian's Knight: For whom is the sword drawn?
- Fire LEO-04 "Rynex" / Vasteel Original: This was where it all began / That was where it all began
- Unknown (Guardian Animus): Fear the Grim Reaper / The end is now here.
- Unknown (2) (Khaos Ascendant): N/A
It should also be noted that Guardian / Khaos utilizes the weaponry of the Sword fleet, an armada of ships that were to be used for planetary colonization of other systems. Guardian / Khaos controls the fleet from the island of Babel itself, and later on from Judgement Sword- the command flagship of the fleet. Judgement Sword is the ship from which Guardian activated the self-destruct mechanisms on every other fleet vessel.
The stage format has the same horizontally aligned orientation of previous games and only stretch to the size of a TV screen as in Thunder Force III. The biggest change in the look of the game is the use of three dimensional polygons to model the game sprites and some of the scenery (instead of the two dimensional sprites in previous games). This change gives the appearance of 3-D objects scrolling against a 2-D backgrounds, which is commonly referred to as a "2.5-D" effect. As in Thunder Force IV, the player can choose the play order of the starting stages, but now only the first three stages can be manipulated in this manner. The same speed gauge from Thunder Force IV is used, and is operated the same way (though the speed is limited to a range of 50% to 100%).
The only difference between the weapon system of this game from Thunder Force III and IV is that there are no longer any items to enhance your default weapons (Twin shot and Back shot). Instead, they are automatically enhanced at a later point in the game and the enhanced versions become your new defaults. All the weapons have appeared in previous Thunder Force games, but a few have been changed radically (such as the "Free Range" weapon that was originally known as "Free Way" in Thunder Force IV).
The CLAWs (now referred to as CRAWs - Constitutional Ray Art Weapon units) have a few changes from previous games. They still rotate around the player's ship, absorb enemy fire, and act as extra turrets for your weapons, but now a maximum of three CRAWs can be used by your ship. In addition, they remain on screen for a finite period of time upon ship destruction, giving the player a chance to recollect them.
A new feature in Thunder Force V involving the CRAWs is the use of the "Over Weapon". By pressing the appropriate button, the player's CRAWs will combine with the currently selected weapon to create a more powerful version of that weapon. Over Weapons can only be sustained for a limited period of time by using CRAW energy. As an Over Weapon is used, the CRAW will shrink in size and gradually change color from blue to green to red, indicating its energy is being depleted. Once all CRAW energy is depleted, an Over Weapon can no longer be used. CRAWs will recharge their energy automatically over time when not being used for firing the Over Weapon. Also, collecting new CRAWs will replace the player's existing CRAWs if they are depleted. If a CRAW is red, it will be destroyed by the next bullet it absorbs.
Differences between Saturn and PlayStationEdit
The Sega Saturn version of Thunder Force V is graphically superior, as it features special effects not present in its PlayStation counterpart. A good comparison of the differences can be found in Stage 3 "Human Road", in which some extra graphical touches found in the Saturn game were removed when ported to the PlayStation. However, the PlayStation version features extra artwork, CG rendered movie sequences, better sound, game modes, and other easter eggs that the Saturn version lacks. Also, the PlayStation version shows less slowdown than the Saturn counterpart.