As I’ve stated a few times before, the Gradius series contains some of my favourite shoot ’em ups. These games in turn produced a couple of spin-off series – one being Salamander/Life Force, and the second being the rather strange Parodius. As can be deduced from the title, Parodius is a parody of Gradius.
I’d always thought of Parodius as Gradius but reskinned with weird graphics. To a certain extent I was right – it plays identically to Gradius and the graphics are a bit bizarre – but to label it as such would be unfair. Parodius builds on Gradius by adding a few extra elements to the game. The strangeness starts on the ship selection screen. Your choices include the Vic Viper from Gradius and TwinBee from another Konami franchise, which is fair enough. Your other choices are an octopus and a penguin. I’m not going to attempt to discover if there is any sort of plot.
|TwinBee is possibly the weakest character.|
After the selection screen you have the choice of whether powerups are applied automatically or manually. You also have choice of three difficulty levels. Even the hardest level makes for an easier ride than you’ll get on the X68000.
Basic gameplay will be familiar to anyone who has ever played Gradius. You proceed through each level shooting enemies. Certain individual enemies (usually coloured red) and waves of enemies drop capsules when destroyed. Blue capsules act as a smart bomb and destroy all enemies on the screen when picked up. Picking up orange capsules incrementally highlights items on your power meter which upgrade your ship (or character) when selected. Besides ‘Speedup’ and the unfamiliar ‘!?’, all upgrades are unique for each ship. At the end of each level you are met by a ‘pre boss’ (such as the volcanoes in Gradius) followed by the end of level boss himself.
|Defeating the second level boss.|
Collecting certain capsules turns your power meter red which starts a game of ‘roulette’ on it. Pressing the power up button stops it on a random power up. I try to avoid these because if it lands on ‘Speedup’ it can make your ship too fast, or it can reduce the power of your main weapon (say from a laser to double shot in the case of the Vic Viper). If it lands on ‘!?’ then all your powerups are removed and your ship is reduced to the slowest speed. This also happens if you are killed and can quickly lead to ‘Game Over’ as Parodius is pretty much a one life game.
|The green bell and white bell in action.|
The sound effects and music are good with speech when power ups are selected. The main score is based on the music from Gradius interspersed with classical jingles and music from other Konami games.
Overall Parodius Da! is an enjoyable game. The graphics can be strange and it’s weird playing as the different characters, but underneath it is pure Gradius so I can’t help but like it.