V・V / Grind Stormer
V-V (pronounced V-Five, also known as Grind Stormer outside of Japan) is a vertical shooting game developed and published by Toaplan in 1993. It was also ported to the Sega Genesis, under the title Grind Stormer. The game was produced by Kenichi Takano, and programmed by Tsuneki Ikeda, who both moved on to CAVE after Toaplan's closure, and would eventually come to make DonPachi (1995). Alongside Batsugun and DonPachi, it is an early progenitor of the bullet hell sub-genre of shooting games, with bullet amounts in later stages of the game amounting to between 70-80 on screen at once. It features similar gameplay mechanics to Slap Fight, an earlier Toaplan release.
V-V is unique among vertical shmups in the use of an "upgrade bar" power-up system inspired by Gradius, where the player collects diamond-shaped icons and presses a button to activate specific power-ups. Grind Stormer, the edition of the game released in non-Japanese territories, removed the upgrade bar and gave the player screen-clearing Bombs. The Sega Genesis port, released in North America, includes an option to switch between "Grind Stormer" and "V-Five" mode in the Options menu.
The plot is about an insanely hard video game called V-Five, released in the year 2210, which abducts gamers and makes them hopelessly addicted to the game, unable to stop playing it. The player is a young government agent sent in the NA-00 Space Fighter to investigate and beat the game in order to free its victims from its clutches. (The plot in the Genesis port is completely different.)
V-V and Grind Stormer both utilize only two buttons for their gameplay. However, the critical difference between the two different game revisions is the functionality of the second button. There are six stages, and a second loop offering greater challenge and score gain. Stage progress is measured from 0-200% in the high score table.
- A: Fires the equipped weapon (Hold the button for rapid-fire)
- B (V-V): Activates the current power-up on the Upgrade Bar
- B (Grind Stormer): Fires a Bomb, clearing the screen of bullets and dealing heavy damage to enemies, and making the player briefly invincible
Weapons / Upgrade Bar
Much like a game in the Gradius lineage, V-V uses an Upgrade Bar, which is comprised of six levels (above). When the player collects an Upgrade Item, the Upgrade Bar moves up one level, and by pressing the B button, the player "activates" the power-up, and the Upgrade Bar is cleared. When the player dies, they will always respawn with the Upgrade Bar on Level 1 (Speed-Up).
In Grind Stormer, this Upgrade Bar is instead replaced with a Bomb Stock, of which six can be held, and upgrades instead drop from carriers in a set order ( Speed-Up ▶ Shot ▶ Search ▶ Missile ▶ Power ). On respawn from death, one Speed-Up upgrade is automatically applied to the player's ship.
- Shot: Switches to the Shot weapon (red ship).
- Default weapon on game start, and on respawn. A combination spread shot and laser weapon.
- When not holding A, moving upwards will adjust the options outward, increasing the shot spread, and moving downward will move them inward, making the shot spread narrower
- When the options are at a straight angle, the shot becomes a powerful laser
- Search: Switches to the Search weapon (pink ship).
- Options lock on to the nearest enemy and point-blank them
- If there is only one target on screen to lock onto (such as in boss fights), one option will lock onto the target, and the second will rotate around the player
- Missile: Switches to the Missile weapon (blue ship).
- Fires powerful missiles from the options, which follow the player by emulating their movements
- When not firing, the player's options quickly return to underneath the player's ship
- Speed-Up: Increases the movement speed of the ship. If the ship's speed is already at the maximum, this slot becomes Speed-Down instead.
- Power: Increases the strength of the equipped weapon. Power upgrades also carry over between weapon types. Amount of options is dependent on power level. Lv 1-2 is two options and Lv 3-4 is four options.
- Shield: Activates a forcefield around the player, which can absorb one hit of damage. The player is briefly invincible when their shield is destroyed.
There are three types of items to collect in V-V. As mentioned above, upgrades in Grind Stormer are relegated to item pickups, but function the same, and will not be covered here.
- Upgrade Item: Diamond-shaped pickups that adds an active slot to the Upgrade Bar.
- These add to the player's Bomb Stock in Grind Stormer.
- When the player loses all of their lives and hits continue, a Gold Upgrade Item will drop from the screen, which activates one Speed-Up, Shield, and three Power upgrades.
- Score Item: Self-explanatory; collecting these items adds to your score based on the value of the item.
- Some enemies and objects drop score items that cycle between different point values, and the point value awarded is based on when you collect it.
- 1UP Item: Released by the 1-5 midboss after meeting the conditions for the secret extend.
Rank in V-V is not currently actively researched, but does seem to exist, and increases the difficulty of the game, from increasing enemy bullet speeds to some enemies shooting more dangerous bullets, and more aggressive shooting patterns. An excellent example of how rank affects the game can be found in Stage 2. If the player has not died up to the boss, the turrets at the start of the fight shoot giant fireballs at high speed, and the second form's attacks are fired at almost double the rate.
What we do currently understand:
- Rank definitely increases by completing a stage without dying.
- Rank is potentially affected by the Upgrade Bar.
- Activating a Shield upgrade seems to have the greatest effect on the rank.
- Rank decreases when the player dies. How severe the rank drops on death is currently unknown.
Scoring in V-V is very simple, rewarding the player with points for destroying enemies, collecting score items and not dying.
Main source of score:
Main source of score comes from end-of-stage and end-of-loop bonuses.
There is a PERFECT NO-MISS bonus at the end of each stage if you collect all the items without dying. This is calculated like this:
- Gems*1000*N+1, where N=number of stage.
There is also a PERFECT bonus for each loop if you never missed the PERFECT NO-MISS bonus once. This is different per loop.
- Loop 1 - 5 million.
- Loop 2 - 10 million.
At the end of the 2nd loop you also get rewarded 1 million for each remaining life for 6 million total.
- Getting score items while they are at their max value. Some enemies can also be shot to make them continuously drop score items.
- The stage 5 boss pods are invincible and can be milked for tick points until the boss times out.
- In stage 3 there is a section where your ship gets encased in ice. Your ship slows down but you gain score per frame while the ice is on you. You want to keep this ice on you for as long as possible.
Dealing damage to enemies rewards the player with 10pts per hit of damage.
Enemy missiles can be shot down by the player's weapons, and are worth (x)pts each.
Every enemy has its own point value that the player receives when the enemy dies.
In Grind Stormer only, the player is awarded 10000pts for collecting a duplicate Weapon item / extra Power item.
A significant amount of score items can be collected by the player in Stage 3 and Stage 5.
The player can earn two score-based extends; the first is awarded after acquiring 300000pts, and the second is rewarded at 800000pts.
There is also a secret extend in 1-5. Don't destroy the box in 1-3 and it should appear after you destroy the last turret on the 1-5 midboss. The extend does not appear in the 2nd loop.
The stories between V-V / Grind Stormer arcade and the Grind Stormer Genesis port are completely different.
V-V / Grind Stormer arcade
In the year 2210 AD, people demanded a more enthralling and difficult gaming experience. 2D, 3D, and virtual reality games could not satisfy the population. The ultimate arcade game was then created and bore the name "Grind Stormer". Players were downloaded into the game and had a surreal battle experience.
The fifth arranged mode, entitled "V-V", was the ultimate special mode where a player could bet their own life. Only by clearing the entire game could a player return to the real world. Many tried, but no one ever cleared the game and returned.
A governmental information research agency sought to investigate this mysterious game. A young intelligence member was dispatched to get answers. As he was about to insert a coin he thought, "Is this really just a game? If not, what is the true purpose of V-V?" 
Grind Stormer Genesis port
Alien invaders called the Zeta Reticulli aim to claim the Earth as their own. You, as the last surviving pilot of the Terran Defense Force, must pilot the Grind Stormer and save the world.
- Genesis cartridges of Grind Stormer published by Tengen have had issues with faulty PCB's and may not work.
See (Template Page)/Gallery for our collection of images and scans for the game.
References & Contributors
- Primary info and page formatting provided by CHA-STG