| paleface [sys=PS1; cat=Shooter_Horiz; loc=JPN] |
|The first of Konami's three PlayStation Parodius releases in which they parody their own venerable Gradius series of horizontal shooters, the Deluxe Pack contains ports of two Parodius titles: 1990's "Parodius Da!" and 1994's "Gokujou Parodius!"|
Da, by far the crustier of the two, gives you four playable characters (three more than Gradius ever did) to blast through difficult and wacky levels. Da! introduces the Parodius tradition of wacky bosses to the PS with a belly dancer as the first stage boss. As with all the Parodius titles, Da! follows Gradius's linear "purchasing" upgrade system where collected coin items go toward character upgrades of varying cost such as speed up, triple shot, and so forth. You can opt for automatic purchasing, which saves quite a bit of hassle. If you go manual instead, watch out for the "Roulette" option that can strip all your powerups.
The thing that bugs me the most about the Gradius titles, namely that you start out each life almost completely helpless and moving so slowly that you can hardly keep up with screen scrolling, is still a problem here. If you manage to survive a while you'll be cracking along with triple shots, bombs, and "Option" mirror ships, and things get quite a bit more fun--until you get hit and go back to a single-shot slug, which can easily happen against a boss. URgh!
As with all Parodius games, stages sing with a distinctly carnival atmosphere as they assault you with waves of animated toys, foods, stuffed animals, and kitchen sinks. Da! lacks the massively vibrant color and animation of the later Parodius titles but at least plays without slowdown.
The biggest Da! downer, however, is lack of two-player simultaneous--none of the regular PlayStation Gradius titles have have two-player, I'll grant you, but the later Parodius titles such as Gokujou do, which puts them far ahead in my book.
Gokujou also expands the roster to six playable characters, each with unique weapon systems. The graphics give full rein to blistering color and character animation, the whole screen seeming to wiggle and shake as you fly through circuses, wild food waves, and other worlds that nearly defy description. The team now had the power to indulge their wildest boss fantasies: the first two bosses are a ballet-dancing panda-bear with a quacking duck head on top of his own, and a gorgeous screen-high reclining mermaid whose laughter shoots at you in massive waves of Kanji, and whose fish tail flips out of the water in a beautiful screen-high column of water.
Throw in two-player and (aside from my beef with the horrible powerup curve) you've got yourself a firecracker of a game. Except that I'm sure the already severe bouts of slowdown become quite a bit worse in two-player--I almost shudder to think of it. I guess it will give you plenty of time to admire the lovely scenery, at least.