It usually appears when the Vic Viper has a lot, if not all, of the Options.
When it appears, it announces its presence by a siren (although some have reported that the siren sound does not play when it appears) while it tries to line up with the Vic Viper. After a few seconds, it then charges forward and any Options that it reaches as well as those following it (e.g. if it grabs the second option nearest to the Vic Viper, it also grabs the ones after it leaving the Vic Viper with only one Option) are stolen from the player. If it fails, it merely continues on forward. The Vic Viper or any playable ship cannot die from colliding with an Option Hunter. Sometimes, the Option Hunter will come back for another run if it does not grab any the first time.
In some cases, Option Hunters do not leave the screen untill ALL Options the player has are gone. This is usually during the final boss, such as Gradius ReBirth and Gradius Gaiden. They also home in on players with more skill.
While the Option Hunter itself is invulnerable, in Otomedius, it can be crushed by hitting it with a P-Burst Charge.
- Gradius II (Arcade)
- Gradius III
- Gradius IV
- Gradius V
- Gradius Gaiden
- Gradius Rebirth
- Gokujō Parodius! (Special Stage)
Gradius II and Gradius Gaiden
Option Hunters appear on a usual basis. In Gradius II, if all four Options are activated in the first stage, it appears early in Stage 4. Gradius Gaiden they appear at the 3rd Stage boss. On the difficulty "Very Difficult" in Gradius II, it will appear when destroying the Shield Core.
This version's behavior is simple: it stops in the same row you stop. If you stay still with your Options away from you, it misses. A timer is set for when it appears after the 4th Option is activated,
In Gradius Gaiden a group of nine appear hidden in a small tunnel before the final boss. As described above, they leave only after all four Options are taken(you can activate another one though).
If all four Options are activated by Stage 5, the Option Hunter appears in the pre-stage. Later in Stage 7, it appears right before the fireballs come. In Stage 9, it appears during the Crystal Rush. And in Stage 10 it comes during the spin lasers.
However, on the SNES version of Gradius III, the Option Hunter does not appear on easy difficulty, making it very easy to keep the player's options safe. It only appears on the difficulties Normal, Hard, and Arcade.
There are three types: the first type is the usual one, the second type can be destroyed after grabbing Options, and the third type bounces. All three can be destroyed with one Mega Crush.
This Option Hunter's behavior is like Gradius II's, only it's homing. However, it's not an easy option hunter to avoid, so if you don't have enough room to get out of the Option Hunter's path, then you won't be able to get your options safe.