"Iím sure that horizontally-scrolling Super Nintendo shooter Jikkyou Oshaberi Parodius has a plot. After all, if you wait after starting up the game, you will be taken into a cinema scene. While the Japanese words and voice are both indecipherable to me, it is quite apparent that the game is trying to give me some form of story. "
Iím sure that horizontally-scrolling Super Nintendo shooter Jikkyou Oshaberi Parodius has a plot. After all, if you wait after starting up the game, you will be taken into a cinema scene. While the Japanese words and voice are both indecipherable to me, it is quite apparent that the game is trying to give me some form of story.
But you know what? After sitting down with this game for a few minutes and watching those minutes turn into hours, I realized that little insignificant details like plot and story are meaningless in a masterpiece of shooting like this third SNES entry in Konamiís Parodius series happens to be.
For those unaware of the pure creative genius that the Parodius series represents, here is all you need to know. Take Gradius, make a parody of it (parody of Gradius equals Parodius ó†get it?), throw in plenty of references to other video games and add a healthy touch of everything up to and possibly including the kitchen sink and you have Parodius. If you think shooters such as those in the Twinbee and Cotton line of games are what whimsical creativity are all about, youíve seen nothing until youíve indulged yourself in the bizarre dream world that is Parodius ó or in this case, Jikkyou Oshaberi Parodius.
Yes, I said dream world. For to me, whatever plot this game possibly has is washed away by the sensation that you are not on some epic save-the-world quest, but traveling though a series of completely different (but still somehow connected) dreams.
Your first dream has you flying above a city shooting tiny Moai heads (an enemy that is a staple of many Konami shooters) before entering a gigantic building that apparently was created as a modern-day monument to disco. Hum along to K.C. and the Sunshine Bandís Thatís the Way (I Like It) as you continue your carnage. Destroy a giant crystal globe and watch it break, revealing an enormous singing and dancing panda, complete with microphone. Itís the sort of bizarre, yet engrossing dream that you donít want to wake up from.
And you wonít have to for quite some time. You have seven more dreams to fly through ó each one holding its own appeal.
Fly through space shooting down Moai flashers (complete with mandatory trench coat), only to watch the background turn into what seems to be a campus setting. Watch a collection of penguin bullies (complete with perfectly styled hair) run down a smaller member of their species and loft him up into the air. Watch your vessel travel into a building and have to maneuver around gigantic floating pencils and the larger species of Moai heads that rest upon them. Eventually leave the building and confront a pair of really large anime gals that have no shortage of miniature Moai allies ready to embark on a kamikaze mission to knock you out of the sky.
And the weirdness is only just beginning. Dream about flying through a land inhabited by Twinbees of all shapes and sizes, including one that could serve as a poster child for breast augmentation. Dream of traveling above a forest path in a feudal Japanese world, only to go through a pair of habitats with plenty of obstacles determined to make the dream end.
But you canít let that happen! Youíve only experienced half the wonders that this little cartridge holds. There still is a brightly colored cavern with all sorts of fruit and vegetable-based enemies to waste. You haven't flown through the urban setting, blasting and dodging obstacles while gazing with slack-jawed wonder at the penguins sitting in police cars. And you haven't visited the short, but boss-laden, seventh level or the circus-themed final world. You certainly can't accuse Jikkyou Oshaberi Parodius of being stale and repetitive.
That creativity stretches to more than level and enemy design, though. Just take a look at your ship selection screen. A total of 16 ships, each with a slightly different assortment of special weapons, awaits you. Traditional Konami vessels, such as the Vic Viper and Twinbee, are joined by a motley assortment of octopi, babies, cats, fairies, commando penguins and stick men riding paper airplanes. The character you pick determines the types of weaponry you can obtain, so you definitely have reason to journey through the world of Parodius more than once in order to experiment with the different characters and how they fight.
And I haven't even touched on the ton of difficulty levels. Start a new game and you'll have seven options for how rough you want things to be. Start up a game on the toothless first difficulty level and the main hazard to your health will be running into walls (bringing back memories of the ''Teddy Bear'' option on old Atari 2600 games). On the other hand, if you start up the seventh difficulty level, even the simple first stage of the game can take everything you have and a little more to topple. Beat the game on that seventh level and an even more unforgiving eighth level opens up. Beat that and you'll be able to select between sub-difficulty levels (called rounds). Defeat the eighth difficulty level on the highest round and you can brag that youíve overcome the greatest challenge this cart provides. Jikkyou Oshaberi Parodius does give you tons of power-up capsules, so it wonít be tough for you to at least have a decent amount of weaponry, but that will only take you so far when the difficulty level gets cranked up to the max.
Continuing with the theme of unlockable and hidden bonuses, there also are a total of 70 fairies hidden throughout the eight levels. Find all of them and you'll open an option to allow you to access a stage select mode. However, they all are invisible until you shoot them and many of them are on parts of the screen that you probably wouldn't venture to of your own accord.
Of course, a game utilizing this much creativity has to look and sound good in order to pull it all off. Fortunately, Jikkyou Oshaberi Parodius succeeds in this aspect, too. The enemies are detailed and wonderfully animated, from the lowliest penguin to the mightiest boss. Backgrounds are colorful and diverse, creating an environment that is just packed full of life and mystery. While the musical high point could quite possibly be the disco tunes that play during the second part of the opening level, there are plenty of well-crafted songs throughout the game serving as a beautiful auditory supplement to the action. The Japanese voice (Oshaberi) that seems to constantly yell and jabber at you is a bit of a negative, but it can be turned off on the options menu.
This truly is a game where flaws are few, far between and pretty insignificant. Sure, with some of the ships (such as the octopi),the option ships look enough like the main ship that in the thick of battle it can be difficult to discern which one you are controlling until you collide with something lethal. It can also get downright difficult at times to make out adversaries or their bullets when too much action (i.e. gunfire) is present on the screen.
But none of those problems had any impact on my complete and total enjoyment of this game. One of a scant few games worth being considered the best shooter of its time (if not of all-time), Jikkyou Oshaberi Parodius truly delivers a little something for everyone, as even those who aren't fans of the genre could easily be drawn in by the colorful and appealing characters this game boasts. It's abstract, strange and definitely as far from the norm as is possible ó and it pulls everything off beautifully enough to create a mysterious dream world that I had no desire to depart.
Community review by overdrive (April 06, 2004)
Rob Hamilton is the official drunken master of review writing for Honestgamers.
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