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RELEASE DATE (JP): 1996 GENRE: Space Shooter
// review by SoyBomb

This game has the sex appeal of a barbecue fork.

Parodius. par·o·di·us.
Pronunciation: /pär'ōdēəs/ noun. A video game series that acts as a parody to Gradius, a horizontal space shooter series created by Konami.
Example: That Parodius game was hilarious for about five minutes.

Origin: Latin, 1st century B.C.: from Parodius (73-25 B.C.), the stand-up comedian and predecessor to Carrot Top of Gaius Julius Caesar's empire.

I still can't put into words what I've just played. Are you familiar with Parodius, the series that tries to poke fun at anything and everything while still remaining a good shoot-'em-up? This is a series that very rarely left Japan and was often released in the arcades first, followed by home console ports later on. The most recent shooter in the series (but not the most recent game, as Konami branched it out to the tactical RPG and — barf — pachinko/pachislot genres) was Sexy Parodius, a game that, by its name alone, is probably going to keep your eyes open for long periods of time.

Even though the game is called Sexy Parodius — and that name will haunt me for days — there's an actual plot, minute though it is. Takosuke, the red octopus character that has appeared in all Parodius games thus far, has opted to found an organization that basically helps people/creatures with their problems. Former Parodius characters now serve under the mustached Takosuke to deal with such problems. Unfortunately, the other staple Parodius character, Pentarou, now works for the organization in a more secretarial role, and as such, he, too, is out of the picture as a playable persona. This does detach Sexy Parodius from the previous iterations, as Takosuke and Pentarou were quite popular. But we still get a number of beings, each with their own unique weapon set. Among them are the legendary Vic Viper directly from Gradius (and its female counterpart, Lord British); Hikaru/Akane, the token bunny women who ride missiles; and Mambo/Samba, fish that shoot lasers. I was hoping for more of the classic Konami characters to appear, but apparently that's not the case. Was hoping for Kid Dracula. Didn't get Kid Dracula. Pretty disappointed. He was such a good man-boy-demon.

Instead of merely getting from left to right, Takosuke will put you on a new case in each stage to help someone, and this usually involves collecting or destroying a certain amount of items in a stage. Being successful, thus completing your mission, will take you to one stage; failing will send you on a different path to another stage. This concept of branching paths is a first for the Parodius series. The problem is that, even if your friendly arcade proprietor sets the cabinet on the easiest possible setting (conveniently named "Easiest"), these goals are extremely difficult to accomplish. Having to collect 300 smiley faces coins, for example, while the screen is constantly auto-scrolling and your time is being spent dodging everything under the sun, is almost humanly impossible.

Too much insanity happening at once. Brain is overloading. Thumbs are jamming. Corn is popping.

And that's the biggest problem I have with this game: there are so many bullets coming from all over the place (even behind), it is nearly impossible to stay alive, especially in the final stage (which has a time limit as its mission). There is a sub-genre of space shooters called "bullet hell" shooters, in which there are so many simultaneous projectiles on screen at one time, it takes a severe amount of practice to know exactly how to dodge each and every one as they follow a very hectic but (with practice) predictable pattern every single time. Games such as DonPachi, eXceeD, and Batsugun have provided a haven for those who suckle at absolute mania in their shmup adventures. Sexy Parodius isn't like that. There's very little to learn ahead of time. The number of times I died simply because there's way too much nonsense flying around the screen to legitimately keep track of it all is nothing short of appalling, and it really detracts from my enjoyment of the game. I don't believe any Parodius game had quite so much frantic nerve-breaking as Sexy Parodius.

It's a shame that the game's difficulty is so prominent because if Konami had been a bit more lenient with the gameplay, we could all take a moment and engage ourselves with the wacky surroundings and humorous artistry strewn about. I mean, just look at what's going on here. Flying sheep? Check. Milk cans that shoot confused cattle? Check. A giant mutant corncob as a boss? Check. A young lady named Stefany in a bathtub? Check. A large penguin wearing a toilet bowl as a hat? Check. An American eagle with murder on his mind? Check. Mice in knight helmets? Check. Dragons with nymphs inside? Check. A tanuki with a shootable scrotum? Check. And, of course, it wouldn't be called "Sexy Parodius" with a few scantily-clad women strewn about. They're indeed there, mostly in still cutscenes; heck, the final boss shows off her rear admiral! But you never get to see any of the naughty bits, so the game's title is quite the misnomer. This game should be called Suggestive Parodius, but that sounds clunky. And even the music is comical as usual. Hearing a circus-style version of "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" was unexpected and never gets old.

Sexy Parodius could've been one of the finest arcade shoot-'em-ups of its time, but you would probably need at least a thousand dollars worth of tokens to see most of it. When you die, you don't just respawn where you left off, which would've been a beacon of mercy to players. Instead, you get pushed back to the last checkpoint, which might be a while back. So if you're looking for the birth child of merriment and frustration, look no further than Sexy Parodius. Also, it's not really that sexy.

Ummm... you're welcome, I suppose.

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