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Sexy Parodius (Saturn) artwork

Sexy Parodius (Saturn) review


"Going into this installment for the first time, with experience of the previous three titles to aide me, Sexy Parodius still managed to surprise."



Going into this installment for the first time, with experience of the previous three titles to aide me, Sexy Parodius still managed to surprise. Don't fret too quickly, though, it has returning qualities that make up a typical Parodius game, like the Gradius-influenced gameplay and the wacky sense of humor the series is known for; you'll get plenty of that trademark, diabolical penguin action with bullets filling the screen. However, the development team included a new element into the fray, one that acts as the major play mechanic for the entire product. This insertion is the addition of stage objections, tasking players to fulfill specific requirements in order to reach certain stages. Failure to do so will force gamers into an alternative level. To me, this sounded like a wobbly gimmick for a shoot-em-up, but I was willing to try it with an open mind. With that said, I got my ass humiliated on the first playthrough.

With the exception of the first stage objective, which is to beat the semi-threatening corn boss, I failed every challenge that followed. The second level's task was to collect 300 coins, and I thought I could pull off this feat... until I realized it was a high-speed stage set in a fancy bathhouse. Coins, big and small, zipped by my fighter as I struggled to avoid bullets, concrete, and floating tubs with either naked women or bald, muscle men. When I made it to the giant penguin boss, who had an attacking toilet as a helmet, I noticed only 100+ coins were gathered. My confidence sank.

MISSION INCOMPLETE


This, in turn, sent me to the alternative third stage, where I was forced to eradicate 100 mice infesting an old haunted castle... supposedly in Transylvania. Since this was a normal scrolling level, I believed I could accomplish the goal, especially with mice spilling out everywhere, from behind, from above with parasols, and by the bucket load through doors. I managed to fail this, too. The only joy I could salvage from this stage was defeating a humongous Medusa boss, complete with snakes on her head making goofy expressions.

MISSION INCOMPLETE


Irritated, I pressed forward to the alternative fourth stage, apparently a pity level, because all I had to do was destroy 10 tractor-thingys in a cave filled with penguin miners. There were also sharp rocks falling from the ceiling, jackhammer penguins appearing from the back spraying bullets, and rock formations crumbling with enough "help" from your projectiles. With all this action filling the field... I only blew away nine tractors before encountering a tanuki boss that had his nut sack hanging out.

MISSION INCOMPLETE


This disastrous streak continued until I got the bad ending credits, which taunted me. I was sent back to the opening, sitting there in denial as the heroes-for-hire "plot" intro played out. It was hard to accept that I could fail so miserably with experience of three Parodius titles under my belt. I almost didn't want to replay Sexy Parodius, thinking I would have the same trip, because I thought some of the stuff seemed too hardcore, like the coin quest for the second and fifth stages (the latter a parody of Pac-Man mazes). But I swallowed my pride and kept replaying, contemplating maybe it's not as difficult as I believed it to be.

You know what? It isn't. All the stages are doable once you memorize the level and enemy layouts, along with one other exception: I had to let go of my previous Parodius instincts. To an extent, of course. In the predecessors, the main goal was to survive, so the focus was always eyeballing the enemies and taking them out before they do any harm. In Sexy Parodius, that has to take a backseat role to the mission objectives if you want to beat the game properly., and once you have that mind frame, it becomes playable. You have to if you want to see the other levels, like the Gradius 2-inspired Chinese area with dragons flying out of bowls, or another where you need to rescue call girls being shipped in boxes by those bastardly penguins.

Despite that praisagraph, Sexy Parodius still feels like an unpolished product. The objectives aren't creative at all, only allowing gamers two main types: collecting or destroying a set number of so-and-so. If the development team had included more variety, this could've been more enjoyable. Like, for example, they could have you chase after someone in a high-speed level, slowly catching up as your avatar gains more momentum with speed power-ups. Just like in Jikkyou Oshaberi Parodius! Or, I don't know, make it through a whole level without attacking. Come on, this stuff isn't hard to think about. What's sad is how the core gameplay (shoot, dodge, survive) had to be dumb down a bit for certain levels to make these basic tasks work.

It also appears not much consideration was put into the home port of this arcade title, because, since you're not plunking in coins to continue, completing goals can be easily done with some abuse. The checkpoint system can be manipulated where you can kill yourself in specific spots and recollect and destroy the same stuff until you have enough. Also, players who want to play legit and successfully beat all tasks have the issue of performing a flawless run; all it takes is one small mistake to ruin everything. You can have the greatest playthrough of Sexy Parodius, taking you to this all time high, only to have your heart ripped out because you didn't notice that one bullet amidst the chaos. It's always here you have to ask yourself, "Should I restart from the beginning or just go for the semi-good ending?" At least with the other Parodius titles, you can keep playing, regardless.

This isn't helped by the fact that the last main stage has one of the biggest asshole moments in the entire series. The level itself is fantastic, taking place inside a Taj Mahal-style palace where all sorts of perversion is occurring in the walls. The battleground is action packed, too, with penguins, angelic pigs, bees, materializing projectiles, and other weird junk crowding the screen. Completing the intensity is a high-octane, catchy version of the Hallelujah chorus playing in the background. This alone would've been enough, but the developers added a timer. Let the timer reach zero and the game stops with a bad ending; you get no second chance with this level. Even this would've been fine, since, while the stage is a challenge, you still have enough breathing room to finish if you don't screw up a ton.

However, one more obstacle was added at the butt-end of this stage: three barricades, all encased with numbered balls that need to be destroyed, which isn't easy considering they have layers of shields protecting them. Keep in mind, this is with penguins lining the top and bottom sections, while speedy balls bounce around the area, and these balls explode in a mess of bullets if hit. The first wall is tough, but can be taken down with only three ball chambers. The second wall is where things get tricky with five ball chambers to handle, and if you pass this one, congratulations. But the third and final wall...


Look at this nonsense!


...


...


Talk about pressure.


I wouldn't go far as to call Sexy Parodius a terrible product, but as the follow-up to Jikkyou Oshaberi Parodius, it feels like a step backwards. It's like going from Super Street Fighter II Turbo to Street Fighter Alpha, or Super Mario Bros. 3 to Super Mario World. Also, for a flawed and, at times, difficult sequel, it's still playable, but it's such an acquired taste, because the entire game is created around the sole idea of forcing gamers into performing a perfect run on every playthrough. Anything less, and the game basically goes into a "You suck! You suck!" mentality if you press on with mistakes.

The objective gimmick could've turned into an interesting one for the series had there been more fleshing out and fine-tuning, like if another game was created afterwards. But Sexy Parodius was the last shoot-em-up for the franchise... the titles that followed were a strategy game and a line of pachinko machinces. Yeah, what? It's been well over a decade since Sexy Parodius was released, so it is hard to even fantasize the possibilities of what a polished version would be like, let alone the prospect of a new Parodius shoot-em-up. At least we still have Parodius Da, Gokujou Parodius, Jikkyou Oshaberi Parodius, and the awesome concept of replay value.

Rating: 6/10

pickhut's avatar
Community review by pickhut (September 04, 2011)

After reviews about Gradius, Salamander, Parodius, and Otomedius games, PickHut attempted a Scramble review. The idea never materialized into writing...

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