Part I: Bosses On Parade
Welcome to the Boss Rush! The bosses, in order, are:
After Dellinger Core is defeated, fly down into the crater to find the entrance to the next area.
Part II: Base
Upon entering, the lights blink on and off while Zubs appear to hound the Vic Viper. After passing through that and evading incoming floor tiles, the next obstacle is a small maze in which laser-firing ships move among tight spaces. Even if destroyed, the ships will remain and block access, so the path must be planned out quickly to avoid getting trapped.
Next comes the familiar moving wall traps, followed by indestructible mini Crabs blocking passageways. A new obstacle follows: the spinning lasers. They rotate and criss-cross at multiple angles, severely limiting space. The boss at the end of this area is Disrupt, the new model gunwall.
Part III: Final Approach
The worst is yet to come! Shadow Gear will come marching in, and afterwards is a tricky cell wall in which the Vic Viper must avoid indestructible globes in the tight spaces between the walls. The final boss at the very end is Bacterion itself. As in tradition of Gradius games, Bacterion itself is easily killed, though he will try to attack with strange energy blasts that will send the Vic Viper back in time. However, an intensely-difficult high-speed area will follow as the Vic Viper escapes the base. If a life is lost, the game will return to the cell wall area.
If for some inane reason the Vic Viper is hit by one of Bacterion's attacks, one of two ministages will begin, each based on the respective first stages of Gradius and Salamander and ending with the corresponding boss (Big Core and Brain Golem). All power-ups will be taken away at the start of these stages, and the game will return to the beginning of the cell wall area when the Vic Viper either dies or completes the stage.
- Aircraft Carrier (Zub Rush II, Big Core)
- Poison of Snake (Tetran, Brain Golem)
- Take Care! (Covered Core, Big Core MK II, Crystal Core, Death MKII)
- Dark Force (Dellinger Core, Disrupt, Bacterion)
- Escape to the Freedom (Escape)
- Return To The Star (Credits)
- Challenger 1985 (Gradius timewarp stage)
- Power of Anger (Salamander timewarp stage)