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CONSOLE: PC-Engine CD DEVELOPER: Kaneko/Inter State PUBLISHER: Hudson Soft
RELEASE DATE (JP): April 24, 1992 GENRE: Shmup
// review by SoyBomb

Gentlemen, start your Engy!

There were many popular shmup series in Japan in the mid-to-late 80s and early 90s. Among them were Konami's Gradius series and Hudson Soft's Star Soldier games. Konami, being occasionally cheeky in its development process, decided to release a parody of their famous shmup, entitled "Parodius," or "Parody of Gradius," in 1988. That game ended up founding a separate series all on its own with many sequels. Four years later, in 1992, Hudson Soft followed suit with Star Parodier, short for "Star Parody Soldier" or something like that. Although there were no parodical sequels, Star Parodier actually was a pretty fun game in its own right, not to mention a weird one.

Years later, Konami ate Hudson Soft for breakfast and spit out the skeletal remains. But I digress.

The intro, featuring a starship intercom operator that shrieks like the dickens, basically tosses a barebones story into our laps. To sum it up, the evil forces of Mother Brain are trying to take over Planet Paroson, and it's up to you to stop them. Wait... Mother Brain? The Metroids have landed! We must flee the village! At least the animation in the introduction is actually quite impressive, even if the storyline is not. Anyway, three giant robot ships are apparently up to the task. There's Paro-Ceaser, your standard spaceship. Yes, that's right, "Paro-Ceaser". I didn't misspell it; C-E-A-S-E-R. As in, cease this comical war! You can also fly around as Bomberman — not THE Bomberman, just a large-scale facsimile — or as a PC-Engine (the Japanese version of the Turbo-Grafx 16 console). I take it they were running out of ideas quickly, and so, while staring at the console praying for inspiration, they received it: just copy the console. That'll do.

Each character has its own special abilities, achieved when you've snagged enough power-ups. I wouldn't be too concerned about this: they are quite common. It's particularly cute that the PC-Engine collects HuCards. The Paro-Ceaser uses lasers (not particularly innovative), Bomberman fires off bombs (also not innovative) and balloons (???), and the PC-Engine literally can fire off CDs. That's one way to defeat piracy. Your ship can also keep "options", miniature ships that give you extra fire power support, be they miniature Bombermen, tiny orbs, or PC-Engine gamepads! I find it odd how, as in most shmups, your ship is extremely fragile but your option ships are practically invincible.

Hey, I didn't order my Bomberman Cajun-style!

While the Parodius series revels in sheer absurdity, Star Parodier doesn't even come close to the same level of humour or cleverness. Actually, it doesn't even try. A parody is supposed to be "a humorous or satirical imitation...", not a beautification! Star Parodier is cute. It's downright adorable. But it's more of a reskin of a game. The inclusion of Bomberman and a PC-Engine should be hilarious, too, but it's not. This is a shmup with more childish graphics than the Star Soldier games it's trying to imitate, nothing more, nothing less.

That being said, the presentation IS pretty good. For a shmup, Star Parodier's actually a decent challenge, though it's not unreasonably difficult, save for the final stage with its high-speed-through-narrow-corridor section. That's nasty stuff. The graphics are crisp and as colourful as possible on the now-primitive PC-Engine. I have not seen happier crabs in my life. But wait! This is a PC-Engine CD game! You would expect a video game on a CD to be superior to a cartridge game, at least at this point in the game of games. Considering the Turbo CD is, at heart, a PC-Engine, a rest stop between the technologies of the NES/Master System and the SNES/Sega Genesis, you won't achieve any graphical improvements that way.

If a walrus ever crosses your path, the power of pirated music is the key to survival.

The only advantages to the CD are the high-quality audio tracks (that don't loop) and the voice acting. But please, for the love of Moroccan chicken, don't just let any daft schmuck into your recording studio! Why does cute Bomberman sound like a full-grown linebacker with more testosterone than I have? Why, when I select the PC-Engine, am I suddenly treated to an übersaccharine voice saying "PC Engy?" No, no, no! ...No!

It's hard to believe that Kaneko, the dastardly company behind such travesties as Chester Cheetah: Too Cool To Fool, had a hand in developing this lovely little gem. Maybe they should have stuck to the cute shmup genre and avoided anything involving cheesy puffed snacks. It's still a fun game, even if its title is a bit of a misnomer, so if you CAN find it, grab with both hands. Star Parodier was finally made available on the Wii Virtual Console for overseas fans, although it was removed from the North American VC in March of 2014.

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