By Konami Sega Saturn/Sony Playstation 1995

Review by Joshua Kaufman

Parodius 'Non Sense Fantasy' - Artwork from Saturn
Deluxe Pack (Japanese) and intro (top left/right of page)

CHARACTERS: The original Parodius game (Da!) has four charaters to choose from: Vic Viper, Octopus, Twinbee, and Pentarou. The second one (Gokujyo) has those four (Octopus is called Takosuke), as well as Hikaru, Mambo, Michael, and Koitsu. Also in Gokujyo the second player has the counter parts Lord British, Beriaru, Winbee, Oranachon, Akane, Samba, Gabriel, and Aitsu. For those that have played the Super-Fam version, Upa, Kid Dracula, and Goemon
are NOT in this version. Each character has it's own unique set of upgrades. My personal favorite is probably Twinbee in the first game, and Mambo in the second.

GAMEPLAY: If you've ever played a
Gradius game, you should know what to expect. It's a horizontal shooter, with a Gradius-style powerup system. If you don't know what that's like (I really pity you), it goes as follows: You have a meter at the bottom of the screen, representing the different upgrades your ship can get, such as speedup, missles, laser, etc. A notable feature of Gradius games is the "option", which is a little ball that shoots an extra line of fire, and hangs just off your ship. You can get up four of them. Anyways, as you collect powerups, the various upgrades are selected, and you choose (or the computer does -- more on that later) when you want which upgrade.

When you die, you loose your upgrades, however if you have at least one powerup in reserve, you start on the first level (speedup) after you revive. In addition to the standard powerup system, Parodius games add bell power, taken from the Twinbee games. Depending on the color of the bell you pick up (if you shoot it, it changes color), you get anything from points, to a superbomb-type thing, to temporary invincibility (you grow all large and pixely). The stages and enemies themselves are, in a nutshell, wacko.. You fight everything from penguins to maoi heads (another Gradius fallback) with sunglasses. There's trees that chase you, huge Konami signs that fall on you, and even falling huge black explanation points. The bosses are even odder, ranging from an Eagle complete with a US flag, a mermaid who attacks you with musical notes, a pinball machine (a big homage to Gradius 2/Vulcan Venture here.. Mike), and an oriental lady (Geisha girl?) on a flying carpet.

(Above) Some of the unlikely characters from
Parodius 2 for your delectation,
click to enlarge!

Ever fancy the chance to pit a bubble-blowing penguin against a 50-foot dancing woman in a bikini, or a cute bunny-girl on a rocket against a giant panda in a pink tutu? Well you can if you play Konami's barking-mad but highly enjoyable Parodius series..

Parodius Deluxe Pack (simply called Parodius in Europe), released in Japan in 1994 for PSX and 1995 for Saturn, contains arcade-perfect (as far as I know) versions of Paroidus Da! (aka Parodius 1) and Gokujyo Parodius (aka Parodius 2). Having only played the Saturn version, I will base my review on that, but I know there are a couple differences between it, as well as some differences from the Snes versions of the games.

HISTORY: A bit of information on the games. Parodius was named thus because it is a PAROdy of GraDIUS. The very first Parodius game, I believe, appeared on the MSX. The first game in the normal series, Da!, appeared in the arcades in 1990, and was soon after ported to Game Boy, Famicom, PC Engine, Super Famicom, and X68000, and of course the Deluxe Pack later. The second one, Gokujyo, appeared in the arcade in 1994, and was only ported to Super Famicom before the Deluxe Pack.

Gokujyo Parodius 'Fantastic Journey' - intro and
artwork from import Saturn Deluxe Pack version.

OPTIONS: You get a bit of choice besides character in
the game as well. You can select level 1-9 difficulty, and whether to loop the game or not (ie, go back to the beginning when you are done). Most importantly, you can choose what type of powerup power you want: Auto, where the game automatically chooses when to powerup, Semi-Auto (only in Gokujyo), where it's chosen also, but you can choose early if you wish, and Manual where you have to choose it yourself always. Also in Gokujyo, if you choose Auto, you are automatically revived on screen when you die, rather than going back to the checkpoint.

DIFFICULTY: One thing I love about these games, is that they are not overly hard. While they aren't a cakewalk, they can be won without too much difficulty or practice, which is perfect for me cause I suck at shooters... There's never an over abundance of projectiles on the screen, and there's never any place like you feel you need to be lucky to get past it. The bosses are usually fairly easy, and in tradition of Gradius games, the final bosses are incredably easy. In these games, they don't even shoot at you, at all.


A not entirely great scan of the Parodius characters taken from the Snes version
From top - Vic Viper, Octopus, Twinbee and Pentarou

GRAPHICS: The graphics are what you'd expect from when they were released in the arcade.
Da! is pretty 16-bitish, and easily could be done on the Snes (the Snes port loses very little incidently). Gokujyo looks quite good, a little bit under the level of most 2D PSX games,
but certainly not bad by any means. If you play even the Snes one then this version, the
difference is quite noticable.

(Above) A 'Cat-tleship' and Feline Sumo Boss from Parodius!!
(Below left) Was this eagle why the games were not released in the US?
(Below right) Start of Parodius 2 - 'The Claw! The Claw! Aiiieee!!!

AUDIO: Sound effects are really cool. The various weapons all have a slightly different sound. Exposions are great, and you hear a "grow" type sound when you become invincible. Also, the names of the powerups are said aloud in a cutesy voice when you activate them. Now, if there's anything about the Parodius series that makes me love it more than anything else, it's the music. Simply put, it's great. Most of the music is based on classical music, ranging from Flight of the Bumble Bee, to The Nutcracker, to the William Tell Overture. Also some other things like In The Mood are in there too. The catch is, it's all done in a kooky style, which makes it all the more fun, and fits the game perfectly. Besides that stuff, there also a few things from the Gradius and Salamander series thrown in, as well as a bunch of new music. Most of the new music are the character themes, which are also great, and all fitting the style of the game as well. <shameless plug> I made Mp3s directly from the game if any one wants any, and also I sequenced all of Gokujyo's music in MIDI, based on the Snes version, these can be found at
(or you can grab a zip of all of the MIDI's
here) </shameless plug>

OVERALL: If I had to give these games ratings, I'd give Da! a 9, and Gokujyo a 10. Gokujyo is, quite frankly, my favorite shooter, because it's simply really fun to play, had great music, and has great gameplay behind the wacky graphics. If you ever find a copy of this game, I wholeheartedly recommend it, unless you really hate Gradius games. Or, download a Snes emulator (such as ZSnes) and try them out that way. (You can find the Parodius 1 and 2 SNES roms in the 'Dam Emulation' section of this site - Mike) (Incidenly, I'm looking for the PSX version myself, so if you have it for sale/trade, let me know) (Having said that this review was written a good few months ago so Joshua might have it by now! - Mike)
Joshua Kaufman

(Above) The famous 'belly-dancing girl', R-Type Mothership
parody and this Gradius 2 inspired 'Pinball-boss' are among
the bosses of the first Parodius game!

Thanks Joshua! Sorry it took so long to put this up (nearly a year - no kidding!). I still have Joshua's Parodius 3 (Forver With Me) and Parodius 4 (Sexy Parodius) reviews he kindly donated to me on my hard drive come to think of it - I'll try and get them posted soon (That'll be 2001 then knowing me ;)) Anyway I can thoroughly recommend the Saturn Deluxe Pack release here - I have both the Japanese version (from which most of the pics were scanned) and the Euro PAL pack.. for some reason it was never released in the US. Hmmm.. Usually t'other way round that.. we never got official releases of Thunderforce 5 or Einhander here in the UK for instance.. But I digress. I also have the PAL PSX version of this Deluxe Pack and frankly it's not much cop.. horrible letterboxing on both games (Parodius 2 has letterboxing on both the X
and Y axis for gawds sake.. arrrghh!) and mid-level loading unlike the Saturn games reduces the enjoyment substantially. So if you have the choice the Saturn versions are the ones to plump for. And if you like these see if you can track down Parodius Forever With Me (No. 3 - my personal fave of the series at least on an aesthetic level) and Sexy Parodius 'cos they are both excellent too! I was going to do a really extensive review and showcase with tons of screenshots and features and maybe using Joshua's midi-files as background music on a illustrated step by step journey through the games - but unfortunately it looks like I probably won't ever get time.. Oh well.. check out the excellent walkthroughs & illustrated reviews at SHMUPS anyway as
they are about the best on the Net!

(Left) Bye bye Mr. Penguin! (Right) Now THAT'S gotta hurt!!!

Make sure you check out the far more comprehensive Parodius 1
and 2 reviews and walkthroughs in the Review Archive at

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