Parodius (SNES) review
"Some gamers prefer a realistic gaming experience. Parodius is about as far from realistic as the Detroit Lions are from winning a Super Bowl. This is a space shooter that has your little starship avoiding a giant – albeit lovely – Las Vegas showgirl, surviving tight spaces in a candy crafted castle, warping about the playfield of a pinball machine and even blowing up penguins in a bathhouse brawl. Parodius is absolute nonsense, plain and simple, but I’ve never had so much fun in an..."
Some gamers prefer a realistic gaming experience. Parodius is about as far from realistic as the Detroit Lions are from winning a Super Bowl. This is a space shooter that has your little starship avoiding a giant – albeit lovely – Las Vegas showgirl, surviving tight spaces in a candy crafted castle, warping about the playfield of a pinball machine and even blowing up penguins in a bathhouse brawl. Parodius is absolute nonsense, plain and simple, but I’ve never had so much fun in an environment that defies all logic.
The game starts normally enough. After picking from the Vic Viper, the Octopus, the Twinbee, or the Pentarou (penguin), the chosen craft takes to the skies against a nice, quiet space background littered with colorful little stars. Suddenly several assorted heads of various colors come flying in your direction, soon accompanied by tiny spaceships and flying chickens. It’s about to get weirder. The first stage has a pirate motif, a bizarre theme highlighted by a mid-boss battle against a battleship with a humongous cat wearing a pirate bandana poking its head out of the bow. As you’re firing away trying to send fluffy back to Davy Jones' Locker, the cat meows at you like a kitty begging its owner for another can of Fancy Feast. You almost feel bad for blowing away something seemingly so cute and innocent. It’s all good though; instead of death, the cat’s face is simply covered with soot as his eyes open wide with shock upon defeat.
After battling buccaneers on the wide open blue, it’s off to the circus to fight off clowns, Christmas presents that unwrap to reveal angry swarms of bees, and a high-stepping Las Vegas show girl roughly ten times the size of your starship. Normally death in a space shooter can cause thrown controllers, excessive cursing, starvation, nuclear war, and other such travesties. However, because of the endearing presentation and overly cute adversaries, you won’t even mind getting crushed under this chick’s gem studded high heels. Love hurts!
If it hurts too much, the game does offer seven different difficulty settings. Setting one lets you lollygag through the game and enjoy the colorful sights and playful melodies without having to worry about inconveniences such as dodging bullets. Ramp it up to seven and bullets will litter the screen faster than shoppers in a mall during the holiday rush. In addition, the game isn't continuously full-throttle on any difficulty setting. There is a good balance between frantic action and calmer scenes. However, the quieter moments last just long enough for pilots to catch their breath and don't drag on long enough to make any part of the game boring.
Further along on your flight, you’ll zip through a pinball machine. Here two power ups are prevalent. One is a golden bell that changes color when blasted enough times. Depending on the color, this bell can grant your ship the ability to nuke everything on screen, temporarily increase its size and make it invincible, or attach a bullhorn that spouts deadly catch phrases such as “NO REVERSE GEAR?” The other power-up looks like a regular Gradius-esque upgrade, but collecting it starts a rapid roulette cycle through your different abilities. Time it correctly and you earn the weapon of your choice. Time it poorly and you’ll land on the “?!” option which strips you of all your previously earned upgrades. Anyone who plays games in the Gradius series will be familiar with the idea that each successive power up collected unlocks the option to gain another skill. Parodius’ roulette cycle allows players to bypass that and quickly amass an arsenal capable of clearing out any area filled with those pesky penguin turrets.
As with any pinball playing field worth its stardust, opportunities to rack up large quantities of points are common. Points aren’t just so you can brag to the five or so other people who have actually heard of this strange game; accumulate enough points and you can earn another precious life.
Pink clouds bordering the top and bottom of the screen, accompanied by a soothing melody, set the tone for another memorable stage. While this may seem like a fluffy paradise at first glance, several bunny eared women encased in bubbles chuck enough arrows to put Legolas to shame. Survive these female fatales, and you’ll engage in battle with a luscious blonde lady lying in bed. This seductress produces tiny demonic babies faster than a high school cheerleading squad. Victory results in a single tear running down her lovely face. Shame on you for making such a pretty girl cry!
Being the dirty pervert you are, you'll make a beeline to the bathhouse to clean yourself off. The object of course is to remain cleaner than any other creature in the universe, so your mission here is to blast everything that is trying to take a bath to bits. You want the ladies to notice you, not them.
After enough destructive mayhem in this madcap world, your ship flies off victorious, only to crash into the foreground. After such an embarrassment, you deserve a break in the bonus stage. Much like the pinball level, the bonus stage is ripe with power ups and opportunities to score large quantities of points. The latter part of the stage includes little people helplessly trapped inside bubbles. So do you play nice and free them? Of course you do… but only so you can vaporize them a second later for more points!
Parodius is one weird journey. Beautiful women try to smash you (well, maybe that’s not so weird for some of us). You’ll be attacked by swarms of bees that pop out of Christmas presents. You’ll create chaos in a bathhouse when all its inhabitants are just trying to maintain good hygiene. Yet as wacky as Parodius is, whether a showgirl stomps you or a fierce pirate kitty sinks your penguin to the bottom of the murky deep, you will have a blast and come back for more.
Community review by randxian (July 13, 2009)
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