While Parodius is a game filled with humour, some of its bosses are no laughing matter – here’s a rogues gallery…
CAPTAIN PENGUIN Nohusuki iii
This guy’s a pushover, as you might expect at this early point. He encircles himself with minion penguins, before sending them your way. luckily, his weak point is easy to spot, as he reacts very noticeably when you hit his prominent belly button.
Dressed like uncle Sam, this bird is significantly tougher than the first boss. Erratic movement patterns, rapid wave shots and slow-moving spreads of feathers are all likely to trip up novice players. All you can do is hang back and just keep shooting.
These mouths shoot razorsharp teeth at you, which will track your ship around the screen. The mouths themselves also cross the screen occasionally. circle behind the teeth to take them out, and the mouths will eventually retreat if you’re not able to destroy them.
A sumo pig that stomps about the place, causing lethal items to drop from the top of the screen. It’s a familiar ploy, but the rate at which things drop shouldn’t cause you any trouble. Hit him with your bombs if you’re able, in order to speed things up a bit.
This Moai head is a bit of a pain, because the statues it fires out of its mouth are so large that they can be very difficult to avoid. Once a statue starts to travel vertically, pick a direction and commit to it. As for Yoshiko herself, you’ll need to shoot her in the eye.
It looks just a like one of the regular core bosses from the regular Gradius series, however in this case it’s received a brightly coloured makeover and some defensive pinball flippers. In this case, looks do not deceive, so take out the wimp Viva core with extreme prejudice.
Honey is a large boss, but doesn’t move around. However, she does blow odd pig-baby-gremlin enemies in bubbles and these are a bit of a pain to deal with, as they cover most of the screen and then start directly attacking you. If you’re not quick in wiping them out, you’ll be toast.
This fishy fellow isn’t too difficult to deal with. The main problem here is that you’ll have to deal with is a lack of space. You see, as a puffer fish, Puuyan starts of fairly small in size but expands every time he takes damage. By the time he’s near-death, he’s blown up enough to take up most of the screen!
Before you can actually fight this ghostly enemy, it’ll chase you around the screen as a deadly, and invunerable, cloud. This form is very fast and you’ll struggle without speed power-ups. luckily, its vulnerable form just fires easily destroyed blue flames at you.
A chump that doesn’t attack at all, making him super easy to vanquish. Golgado Tako heavily protected from the outside, however, so make sure you pass the metal door before it snaps shut, but once you’re in all you have to do is shoot his eight tentacles until they detach.
enemies, but Parodius gives you a full Moai battleship stage. The soundtrack is also great, featuring vintage Konami remixes as well as jaunty renditions of classical music favourites.
What’s excellent about Parodius is that despite its sense of humour, it’s no slouch when it comes to game design. Because it’s primarily for people who love Gradius, it includes a variety of power-up styles represented in the four ships you can choose – Vic Viper, Takosuke, Twinbee and Penta correspond to Gradius, Salamander, Twinbee and Gradius II respectively. The level designs are just as challenging as anything you’ll find in the main Gradius series, and offer a deal of variety. You’ll find traditional stages, Gradius’ characteristic infinitely scrolling stages and mazes, as well as the aforementioned Moai battleship. If there’s one major criticism to be made of Parodius, it’s that it sticks a little too closely to the Gradius power-up template, though it does improve on it in some ways. The adoption of Twinbee’s bell system is particularly nice, as whenever a bell appears on screen, you can shoot it until it changes colour for a variety of effects.
The auto mode also takes out the stress of managing how you spend your tokens, delivering power-ups in a preferred order. However, as in Gradius, losing a life means starting from scratch, usually in an area that has been designed with the assumption that you’ll be at full power.
For reasons unknown, Konami considered Parodius to be too offbeat for a North American release, but perfectly acceptable to release in European markets. NES and Game Boy versions were made available, but the SNES version was particularly popular with reviewers – the game scored 93% in Mean Machines, with reviewer Radion Automatic commenting that “the gameplay itself is nothing new, but it is presented in such an original way […] that it doesn’t really matter.” The SNES game also scored 87% in N-force and 86% in Super Play Gold, with the latter stating that the game was important as it “almost single-handedly reintroduces the idea of playful fun to the shoot-’em-up.”
Despite being packaged with a second game, the 32-bit versions were not as enthusiastically received due to reviewers’ expectations of games on new hardware. OPM gave it 6/10, stating that “for all their weird and wonderful visuals, Parodius and Fantastic Journey are still side-scrolling shoot-’em ups – and not terribly 32-bit ones at that.” Mean Machines Sega disagreed, awarding the game 90%. Gus Swan argued, “This game is a delight for shoot-’em-up fans, and a relief for Saturn owners who have put up with a barrage of concept games, too eager to experiment with the hardware at the expense of playability.”
to get the Parodius arcade experience at home today, we’d recommend tracking down a Japanese copy of one of the 32-bit versions or the PSP version. Every home version has something unique to recommend it though, so you can’t go wrong if you pick up one of the earlier console releases.
In today’s hyper-controlled world of ‘brand bibles’ and complex character sign-off processes, Parodius feels just as vital as it ever did. It’s a loving mockery of the Gradius series, which manages to ridicule the conventions of the games while simultaneously displaying great affection for them (and Konami in general). There are more than a few moments where you’ll nerd out when you see a forgotten favourite character or enemy show up. Yet the game never forgets that its audience contains die-hard Gradius fans, and the design of Parodius respects that properly. Deservingly, the game has since seen many sequels and can be considered a game series in its own right, standing alongside Gradius rather than in its shadow.
So if you’ve never tried it before – something we can forgive, given the limited releases outside of Japan – you’d do well to give Parodius a go. You’ll be surprised at how something so cute can reveal itself to be so fiendish.
“it’s no slouch”
[Arcade] Any notion that Parodius is easier than regular Gradius is thoroughly proven wrong by these clowns in stage 2.