Sexy Parodius

Sexy Parodius
Game Name: セクシーパロディウス (Sexy Parodius)
Media: 1 CD-ROM
Publisher(s): Konami
Developer(s): Konami
Genre(s): Horizontal Shooter
Release Date: November 1996
Serial Number: T-9514G
Region: JP

Sexy Parodius ScreenshotSexy Parodius is the fourth and last (so far) of the Parodius series of games – so named because they are parody of the famous 2D shooter Gradius also developed by Konami.
Basically Parodius features the same gameplay as Gradius which more or less set the template for horizontal shooters and powerups for quite some time, but the whole look and sound has been replaced with whacked out cartoon-ish visuals and tunes.

By the third entry in this series this formula was starting to run out of ideas and it is to Konami’s credit that they changed the style of gameplay insofar as level progression at any rate. Basically they created (in my humble opinion) one of the most finely crafted 2D shooters ever.

This game has a smaller than normal roster of 8 characters (some new ones in there though) , but the level structure has changed.
After playing through a typical 1st level (if a level with a giant corn-cob that hurls masses of popcorn at you as its boss is normal) , the second level (and all subsequent levels) have a mission. The mission is usually to collect a number of objects or shoot a certain number of enemies.

Sexy Parodius ScreenshotThere is a branch after each level (as in the Darius games) – but the level you go to depends on success or failure of the mission. There’s a weird story too – the characters all work in an odd job agency who are given assignments in small cut scenes at the start of each level linking up with the missions.

Apart from the 1st level which to be honest is a bit run-of-the-mill and becomes a minor chore after repeated play, the levels are beautifully crafted with that Parodius trademark attention to detail.

The 2nd level in the game requires you to collect 300 golden coins while fending off enemies and navigating through a set of twisting passages which is no mean feat.
If you fail this task you go level 3b which features my favourite Parodius soundtrack. It starts off sounding like a tribute to the Castlevania series – indeed the level is a flight through a gothic style castle, but the music soon changes into some sort of crazy polka.
By this time the tradition with remixing popular tunes was gone and many levels feature music composed specially for this game and this upbeat tune has to heard to be believed.

Sexy Parodius ScreenshotNo matter what route you take through the game you get to the same final level which sees Mr Parodius (the red octopus character) doing a runner with the company’s money and you have to get to the end of the level before he does – it’s a race against time. You see him scuttling along the bottom of the Taj Mahal inspired final level with a huge bag of coins slung over his octopus shoulder…and there is a timer on the screen counting down. The ending you get will depend on whether you catch the octopus or not (and also what path you took through the earlier levels).

There are a few more minor changes such as a new bell which gives you a Pacman lookalike buddy who moves around the screen clearing enemies for you for a while and the bosses now have a life bar so that you can see how well you’re doing in the boss battles.

This change to the gameplay formula was a shot in the arm for the series and leaves me wanting more. The sexy theme isn’t really all that sexy… some of the bizarre (and in some cases slightly disturbing) cut scenes between levels advance what passes for a story and they show half naked anime lovelies and others in bunny costumes etc. The boss of level 4b is a giant racoon with enormous testicles, who understandably gets pretty annoyed if you shoot them. I leave it to the reader to decide if that is sexy or not.

Sexy Parodius Screen ShotCompared to Oshaberi Parodius, there seem to be lower production values in some ways – the title screen feels unfinished and the option mode is spartan. I haven’t yet unlocked any special score challenge level, although I’m led to believe a bonus level is unlocked if you have success in all missions. This is slightly disappointing given the masses of things you had to do in the previous game but the very high quality of the levels (apart from the 1st one) and the fact that there are multiple paths through the game go some way toward redressing this.

The core game itself is of the highest quality both content and presentation-wise and it is well worth hunting down. It’s a shame the series ended with this game but then it did end on a high note.

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