Vic Viper is the name of the main protagonist starfighter in Gradius series by Konami. The craft has been at the player's control in al most ten different titles, making it the series' flagship model and mascot. The ship has been renowned for both its remarkable adaptability and unique twin-pronged fuselage. The first Busou Shinki design competition, Bokushin(ボク神), champion was inspired by Vic Viper.(Anubis Version, from Zone of Enders), a sentient version of the ship later went on to star in the Parodius series.
The Vic Viper was created by the Gradius Empire as a means to counter the Bacterian Empire from invading their home planet (and solar system). The starfighter is built in with an array of weapons ranging from a standard cannon, to guided missiles and a laser. The space craft is also capable of producing up to four energy orbs called Phantoms that follow behind Vic Viper as the craft navigates space. In later installments, the starfighter can have its weapon setup modified with preset weapon setups or even ones created by the player's choice.
An omnicidal force known as the Bacterian Empire attacks the Gradius Empire for destructive ambitions. In order to counter these forces, a starfighter is built by the Gradians in order to counter the evil forces. Their result is a small, but nimble fighter called the Vic Viper that is tasked to track down and destroy the main source of the Bacterians.
After visiting several different planets including one filled with volcanos and one containing a sentient, hostile version of Moai statues. The Vic Viper locates the aircraft carrier where the Bacterians are originating from. It manages to get through tight security before it finally reaches the power source, a large, manipulative brain. The starfighter manages to destroy the brain and in turn defeat the Bacterian forces, before it finally returns to Gradius, as its mission is accomplished.
The Bacterians return once more, bringing the same destruction as they caused in the former game, but this time under leadership of a entity known as Gofer. The Vic Viper, now a more modified version of it, is tasked again to track down and destroy the head of the hostile empire, but also having to go through several new environments and enemies, whilst revisiting old environments as well.
Eventually, the Vic Viper locates the Bacterian cruiser and after defeating a menagerie of old foes and infiltrating through tight security, the starfighter locates and battles Gofer, to which it destroys and beats a hasty retreat when the large cruiser begins to self-destruct. With the hope that the Bacterians are done for once more, Vic Viper returns back to its home planet.
Once more, the Bacterians return, and this time much more prepared than before, and under leadership of a massive being known as Bacterion. A new version of the Vic Viper is created to help counter the Bacterian Empire's new tactics of defense. This craft is now capable of using a custom load out of weapons unlike its predecessors, as well as a variety of new weapons.
After visiting 9 different planets (both new and old in the series), the Vic Viper locates the location of the Bacterian leader and battles through a menagerie of enemies, including several bosses from the previous titles and a giant mechanical spider. It eventually makes its way to Bacterion but is sent into a paradox where it must replay one of two levels from previous titles, it is then returned to the base where it confronts Bacterion once more, and manages to defeat the Bacterian leader and escape from the mechanical base before it self-destructs, it then heads back to Gradius to celebrate its third victor against the Bacterian Empire.
After enjoying a period of peace, the Gradius Empire is attacked once more by the Bacterians, this time under command of a dependent of Gofer. As usual, the Vic Viper travels across different planets with new and familiar landscapes defeating several Bacterian bosses along the way, eventually making it's way into the Bacterian's battleship and destroying the mastermind behind the attacks.
Once more, the Bacterian Empire attacks Gradius for the fifth time, Vic Viper is tasked to enter the battleship and destroy the commanding source (a brain entity similar to the one from the first game). Seeming to have taken a much shorter time then usual, it is instructed by a future version of the pilot to carefully navigate and destroy the main core simultaneously once they reach the source.
Afterwards, the fighters sent to seek out more Bacterian forces and bosses before coming to a dead end when it seems that the true source is now impenetrable, seeing the opportunity with the ship's new ability to travel back in time, the pilot willingly does so and travels back to the beginning to instruct their past-self to navigate through the interior of the cruiser and destroy the source simultaneously once they both reach it.Upon confronting the source for a second time, the Vic Viper destroys the source fast and easily, but is warned by the entity that even if they destroyed them, the Bacterians would eventually return.
- Vic Viper BP-456X: Built by Dr. Venom and used by James Burton. It's used in Gradius and Gradius Rebirth. It has the basic weaponry.
- Vic Viper BP-456Y: Vic Viper used in Nemesis GB and Gradius The Interstellar Assault. It's a slight variation of the original model.
- Vic Viper BP-8332: A variation of Vic Viper with new wings similar to Delta-wings. Used in Salamander and Salamander 2. It featured the new Ripple Laser and Twin Missiles added to the Lord British too. An upgrade allowed it to use Options as powerful counterattack weapons.
- Vic Viper BP-8272: Vic Viper used in Gradius II and IV. Is one of the most powerful models. It added the Spread Bomb, Armor Piercing and Floating Mine as new weapons.
- Vic Viper BP-5963: Vic Viper used in Gradius III, a.k.a "Vic Viper Mark-III" or "M.A.X". It's the first Vic Viper able to combine great numbers of different weapons in a single fighter. And, the color scheme of this version is white, without blue stripes.
- Vic Viper Gaiden: An unnamed Vic Viper used in Gradius Gaiden.
- Vic Viper BP-592A: Vic Viper used in Solar Assault. It has the same weapons as the original model but it was created for High-speed interceptions.
- Vic Viper T-300: A prototype version of the new T-301. Cancelled for being too unstable.
- Vic Viper T-301: Futuristic version of Vic Viper used in Gradius V. It's known for it's tiny hitbox and was capable of creating tears in the space-time continuum.
Vic Viper has the capability to use a variety of different primary and secondary weapons. Most of the weapons must be obtained using a power-up system, requiring the Vic Viper to collect capsules in order to activate them:
- Laser Cannon - fires a single, semi-automatic bolt that can destroy smaller Bacterians easily.
- Missiles - the Vic Viper's main secondary weapon; missiles can be fired below or above the Vic Viper in an attempt to eliminate enemy flank attacks. Multiple variants are introduced in various games:
- Missile - fires a single missile downwards at a 45 degree angle. Once the missile makes contact with the ground, it will travel along the ground until it hits an enemy or an obstacle such as the environment. If it comes in contact with a hatch, it will destroy it instantly.
- Spread Bomb - fires a single bomb at a 45 degree angle downwards, upon making contact with any surface or enemy, it will explode, creating a medium-size explosion. The explosion will damage or destroy any Bacterians unfortunate enough to travel within the radius.
- 2-Way Missile - fires two missiles that travel at a slight arc before traveling upwards and downwards respectively. Unlike the normal missiles, they will not travel along the ground, and simply explode. In later games, the arc is increased, allowing the missiles to travel further.
- Photon Torpedo - fires a missile that behaves similarly to the normal missile, but when it travels along the terrain, it will penetrate weaker enemies instead of exploding upon any surface. Later games give the missile the ability to fire upwards as well, and increasing its striking power.
- Hawk Wind - in early games, this variant fires two missiles that can climb surfaces instead of exploding upon them. In later games, this variant fires only one missile, which travels either upwards or downwards depending on which surface the Vic Viper is closer to in proximity.
- Small Spread - fires up to two spread bombs at a 45 degree arc backwards, upon making contact with any surface, the bombs will explode, creating a small explosion. The explosion will damage or destroy any Bacterians unfortunate enough to travel within the radius.
- Control Missile - fires a missile straightforward. The missile can be controlled to move up or down using the directional buttons.
- 2-Way Back - fires two missiles behind the Vic Viper, which travel at a slight arc upwards and downwards respectively. Upon hitting any surface, they will explode.
- Flying Torpedo - fires two missiles straightforward, the fire button can be held to increase the arc of the missiles, allowing them to be fired vertically.
- Vertical Mine - fires a mine similar to the Spread Bomb, but upon hitting any surface, the resulting explosion will be a vertical line. The mine's direction of fire is affected by the velocity and direction of the Vic Viper, and will be affected by gravity.
- Double - one of two primary weapon variants, the double allows the Vic Viper to fire an additional laser cannon (or more) at a different direction, increasing the firepower and allowing the craft to clear more Bacterians quicker. Multiple variants are introduced in various games:
- Double - fires an additional shot at a 45 degree angle upwards, allowing the Vic Viper to clear Bacterians located on surfaces that can't normally be reached with the standard cannon or missiles.
- Tail Gun - fires a single shot behind the Vic Viper, making it useful for taking out enemies located behind the craft.
- Vertical - fires a shot directly above the Vic Viper, it can clear entrenched targets on the roofs of levels.
- Free Way - fires an additional shot in the direction that the Vic Viper previously traveled. It is very difficult and awkward to use, but extremely versatile.
- Spread Gun - fires two shots at a slight angle forwards, it can be upgraded again to fire a third shot straightforwards to further increase the firepower.
- Back Double - fires an additional shot at a 45 degree angle backwards.
- V-Shot - fires two bolts that travel upwards and downwards respectively, making it excellent for countering flank attacks.
- Laser - the Vic Viper's signature primary weapon, it is generally more powerful than the Double, as it is able to do more damage and can penetrate Bacterians in most cases, but is unable to be fired in multiple directions other than straightforwards. Multiple variants are introduced in various games:
- Laser - fires a standard beam that can penetrate most smaller Bacterians.
- Cyclone Laser - fires a beam with a spiral effect that behaves just like the standard Laser. It is thicker than its normal counterpart.
- Ripple Laser - fires a ring-shaped pulse that is much wider than the normal laser, but lacks the ability to penetrate enemies.
- Twin Laser - fires two smaller lasers straightforwards, they have a faster fire rate than the normal variant.
- Energy Laser - the most powerful laser the Vic Viper can use; it creates an orb that surrounds the Vic Viper that can be charged, causing any enemy that makes contact with it to be destroyed. When fired at full power, the laser is capable of doing tremendous damage to stronger enemies, and is able to penetrate layers of core bosses and doing devastating damage to others (being capable to destroying them in 2-3 shots).
- Armor Piercing - fires an armor-piercing laser cannon, it moves slower than a normal one, but can penetrate enemies and does more damage overall.
- Thrust Laser - fires a think, lance-like laser, it is powerful, but is not very useful in tight passages.
- Fire Blaster - fires a powerful flamethrower that has a much more limited range than the aforementioned lasers.
- Options - most essential weapon to the Vic Viper; then activated, it creates a phantom orb that provides extra firepower, but does not protect the Vic Viper from enemy projectiles. Up to four can obtained. Multiple variants are introduced in various games that change their movement and attack patterns:
- Option - the standard variant of the option will follow the exact path of the Vic Viper from behind.
- Rolling Option - the options will rotate around the Vic Viper clockwise, covering a smaller, but more concentrated area of fire. They function similarly to the CLAWs from the Thunder Force series.
- Formation Option - two options will position themselves above and below the Vic Viper respectively, covering a larger, but less concentrated area of fire. They function similarly to the Options from Thunder Cross series.
- Snake Option - the options will operate in a tail-like matter, by swinging in the opposite direction when the Vic Viper stops moving. They are hard to control, but very useful if functioned correctly.
- Freeze Option - the options will initially behave like the standard variant, but when there function is activated, they will hold their position, allowing them to concentrate fire more effectively than the other variants, making them useful for destroying larger enemies and bosses as well as large groups of smaller enemies.
- Shield - creates a shield that can protect the Vic Viper from enemy fire. It can only absorb a limited amount of fire before being depleted. Multiple variants are introduced in various games:
- Shield - creates a pair of hexagonal gear-shaped shields that protect the Vic Viper from the front, but leave the other sides exposed. They shrink with every hit they take until they are depleted.
- Force Field - creates an aura that surrounds the entire Vic Viper, allowing it to absorb enemy fire from any direction, but usually takes less hits (three in most cases) to deplete.
- Free Shield - creates a single hexagonal gear-shaped shield that can be placed at any part of the Vic Viper, allowing it to absorb fire from that location in question. Up to eight shields can be placed on the craft at once.
- Rotating Shield - creates a pair of hexagonal gear-shaped shields that rotate around the Vic Viper at opposite points; they function similar to the CLAW in Thunder Force series.
- Reduce - two versions of this power-up are introduced in the series: the first version reduces the size of the ship by one size, making its hitbox smaller and thus harder to hit, a second activation reduces the size even further. The second version reduces the craft to the second aforementioned size automatically, and allows the craft to absorb two hits, with each hit causing the Vic Viper to grow bigger in size.
- Guard - creates a shield that protects only the top and bottom of the Vic Viper for up to two hits, when active, the Vic Viper is immune to terrain collision.
- Mega Crush - a unique power-up that destroys all small Bacterians and all projectiles instantly.