Format reviewed: SNES
Submitted by: Craig Hawkins
For the first time ever, a Parodius instalment's origins would lie not in the arcades but on a home console. Verily, 'tis a Super Famicom game through and through that I speak of; one equipped, unlike its two coin-op-fathered SNES brethren, with a swanky custom SA-1 chip. I have invited along the Japanese commentator who shouts stuff throughout Jikkyō Oshaberi Parodius (transl. Chatting Parodius Live!) to assist me with this Japanese exclusive.
Precisely. A bustling roster of sixteen 'spaceships' – placing cats, fairies and octopi alongside the more accustomed Vic Viper, Lord British and Winbee – makes for much eye candy and power-up variety. That said, most debutants are close relatives of existing cast members. Amidst all this, two favourites, Kid Dracula and Goemon, were allowed to leave to pursue their solo careers, and for this I cry. On top of crying I also play the PSX release which reintroduced Kid Drac. Alas, someone's solo career was short-lived.
That's just ignorant. But as polished and improved as the PSX and Saturn versions are, neither tickles its host's belly in the manner of the SNES version. This 16-bit marvel exhibits more exuberant colours than an episode of Pushing Daisies and shoves more sweet-tasting action in your face than The Pie Maker serving up Pearway To Heaven pie. Not forgetting all that 'live chatting' from our Nipponese friend whose incomprehensible poppycock merely drowns out a splendiferous score encompassing everything from J.S. Bach to KC and the Sunshine Band.
Sir, I'll thank you not to bring Wikipedia into this. As always, behind the façade of absurdity resides a familiar group of mechanics in Gradius overalls. The options screen's seven degrees of difficulty allow casual gamers to play to the tune of an easy life while seasoned veterans can march to the chorus of the hardcore. In truth, gameplay is altogether indistinguishable from previous entries and old sprites make encores in new clothes, but these eight stages introduce enough crazy and pretty things to fly away with the award for best in series on SNES.
I wish I had known that much sooner.