Boss rush

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.

hot lips


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.

Buta Shio


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.

Viva Core


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!

yoshi­wara Dayuu


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.

Gol­gado Tako


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.

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