Format reviewed: PC Eng/Turbografx-16
Publisher: Hudson Soft
Developer: Hudson Soft
Submitted by: Lee Tatlock
I have a massive soft spot for those rare occasions when the mighty shmup genre drops its biomechanical facade in favour of a more mind bending aesthetic: Parodious, Cho Aniki, Pop N’ Twinbee, Fantasy Zone, Zonk, etc – I love ’em all! Now you may be asking yourself why on earth a 31 year old man would be addicted to such cutesy-cutesy nonsense and not playing the latest mind numbingly derivative FPS or the must-have, scar faced, superdude-with-attitude, open world affair of the moment? Well I think I just answered that question quite well and the key word is ‘derivative.’ So, sure I love platform games and they have come in their thousands with often nary even a tweak in sight, but when gaming truly excites me is when game developers drop their posturing and their minds for a moment and spew out gems like Katamari or, case in point, the shmup parody game.
So without further ado I bring to you another writhing mass of inexplicable mind vomit in the form of Star Parodier! Ripping the back out of the Star Soldier series and replacing its guts with more vibrant madness than you can shake an luminous chicken leg at, Star Parodier makes its bid for zaniest jaunt through mentalsville, ever, and one of my favourite shmups of all time!
So it all kicks off with a vibrant opening screen then you get to choose your character. This choice comes in three flavours: you got your star soldier type ship (nothing new there), then you get Bomberman with all the Bomberman flavoured trimmings and power ups you could desire, and last, but definitely not least, you get my player of choice: the anthropomorphised PC Engine console who spews discs at enemies and picks up Hu cards for power ups! Weeeee!
The levels roll on like a tsunami of mind altering colour with equally nutty denizens inhabiting their strange and often beautifully ill fitting environs. You’ll be thoroughly eye blasted by giant bubble blowing crabs, bamboo-straw-breathing underwater ninjas, walking islands, flying roller coasters, evil snowmen and chibi skeletons in wave after wave of unadulterated chaos! It’s all cute and vibrant and will definitely lead you into a false sense of security with its nicey nicey visuals and tamer opening levels, but lose a life or your power ups by way of power downs come level 5 (of a total of 8) and you’ll be picking your freshly flung controller from the crackling remnants of your TV in a flustered rage. Sure your fire power may fill the screen in a storm of thunderous shrapnel and lasers, but this game has been designed so well that the enemies will chomp their way through your offense and leave you a puny wreck over and over again unless you pull your socks up in those later levels and get some serious hand eye coordination going on.
Well that’s that – not many of these things are being pumped out of late and the early nineties trend left us feeling like we had a truly new creative spark to ignite our passions for the genre anew, but alas it burned out all too quickly. I can only recommend to those of you who haven’t partaken in this style of shooter before to get your act together and prepare for a blast, and as you work your way through the list of like minded games, by whatever means, you must be sure to get a go of Star Parodier and I promise you will not be disappointed….confused perhaps but not disappointed.