Paro Wars (Japanese) - PSOne (1997)

Playstation Cover

Paro Wars

Paro Wars

After creating a series of successful shoot-em-ups, it seems odd that Konami would then make their final game in the series a war simulation game. Paro Wars is a turn-based strategy game that, as it turns out, as almost exactly like Military Madness (and even looks similar to that game's spiritual successor, Nintendo's Advance Wars.) You take control of one of eight factions - which include Hikaru and her bunny girls, Pentarou and his horde of penguins, Takosuke Jr. and his octopi friends, Michael and his pigs, and Koitsu's army of paper airplanes. Other choices include the pandas, the moais, and a set of business suit-clad dogs.

You're given a small map with limited resources - the object is to capture factories so you have the ability to make more units, which include a huge variety of tanks, planes and boats. Like Final Fantasy Tactics, the terrain is 3D modeled but the sprites are 2D. When you attack an opposing enemy, you get a goofy little (voiced) cutscene where your characters fight and taunt each other - they're pretty amusing, but can be skipped if you just want to play. There's even a cat who occasionally pops in to give some commentary on the battle situation. Below are some of the wackier characters.

For a game that seems this lighthearted, there's an incredible amount of depth. Not only do you create vehicles, but you also have a vast array of unique characters to command each unit - also with their own stats. Unfortunately, at this point it all becomes a little overwhelming. Throughout the game, there are over seventy units, and while some have wacky names like "Gaba Gaba Mk 3", "Go Go Saber" and "Mig-800DX!?", others have more generic titles like "Pu-25", "SM1573" and "T-Back 34/85". Even if you know some Japanese - and God help you if you try to go this one without any knowledge of it - keeping track of everything is just too much. It doesn't help that a learning curve is entirely nonexistant. Even the beginning battles will take quite a long to play through, and the enemy, even on the Easy difficult setting, is really quite brutal. Still, if you're a fan of strategy games and especially enjoy the Paro universe, you'll at least get a small kick out of this one.

Paro Wars

Paro Wars

Paro Wars

Paro Wars

Parodius has some mad-crazy boss encounters. Here are some of the highlights:

Parodius - Sumo Pig

Parodius - Moai Battleship

Parodius - Random Gorgeous Woman

Gokujou Parodius - Panda Ballerina

Gokujou Parodius - Evil Mermaid

Gokujou Parodius - Rabbit Woman

Jikkyou Oshaberi Parodius - Giant Akane

Jikkyou Oshaberi Parodius - Goddess Outfit, similar to Mai Shiranui

Jikkyou Oshaberi Parodius - Twinbee thing with huge knockers

Sexy Parodius - Corn Chiwa

Sexy Parodius - Toilet Pengiun

Sexy Parodius - Tanuki, don't shoot its crotch

Sexy Parodius - Woman Riding Clam (Birth of Venus?)

Sexy Parodius - Return of Random Gorgeous Woman

Naturally, the series would be called "Parodius" if it didn't mock various bosses and situations from its mother series, Gradius. Below is a handful of them. There are tons of them, so not all of them are listed here.

Parodius - American Eagle

Parodius - Phoenix

The level 2 boss of Parodius is almost exactly like the level 1 boss from Gradius 2 - it attacks with its feather and its laser beam. This boss is sometimes cited as the reason the original Parodius never came out in the USA.

Parodius - Volcanos

Gradius 3 - Volcanos

The exploding volcano was at the end of the first level in Gradius, and it reappears pretty often. The angry volcano in Parodius shoots out eggplant.

Gokujou Parodius - Bakery

Gradius 3 - Sand

In Gradius 3, you have to blast your way through an underground sand lair. Same deal in Gokujou Paro, except you're blasting through...a gigantic cookie or something.

Gokujou Parodius - Bakery Boss

Gradius 3 - Level 3 Boss

As you can see, both bosses here have the same attack pattern. Except the Parodius one is attacking with bakery utensils.

Parodius - Umbrella Demons

Gradius 3 - Umbrella-ish Things

At the end of level 3 in Gradius 3, you face an annoying section where pods come out, circle the screen and attack. This is duplicated exactly in the original Parodius.

Sexy Parodius - Sea Dragons

Gradius 2 - Fire Dragons

The gigantic sea dragons in the underwater level in Sexy Parodius are much like the fire dragons in the first level of Gradius 2.

Parodius - Vegas Dancer

Gradius 2 - Mechanical Spider

The mechanical spider at the end of Gradius 2 moves exactly like the Vegas Dancer in the second level of Parodius (she also reappears in various forms in other games.)

Parodius - Viva Core

Gradius 2 - Level Boss

The boss of the casino level in Parodius is modeled after the original battleship you face at the end of every stage in Gradius.

Jikkyou Oshaberi Parodius - Schoolgirl Moais

Gradius (all) - Moai

There are a couple parodies of the Moai heads that appear in Gradius, but the most amusing is in Jikkyou Oshaberi Parodius - where they are actually cardboard cutouts dressed with wigs from the girls of Tokimeki Memorial.

Parodius - Intro

Gradius 3 - Intro

Gradius 3 begins with a short chronology of the series. Parodius skewers all of them, showing the game covers but making them ridiculous. Here, the dragon from Salamander gets burnt by the fire.

After the great shooter crash of the early 90s - when the glut of too-similar games caused most people to swear them off - anything different is worth noticing. Parodius merges Japanese wackiness with solid gaming, and turns out with one of the best shooter series out there. Yay Konami! Although the series laid dormant for quite some time, Konami seems to be resurrecting the ideas in the 2.5D arcade shooter Otomedius. Here's hoping for a home port.

Links:
SHMUPS Best shooter site on the web, including a Sexy Paro article I wrote.
Gradius Homeworld Covers Gradius, Parodius and Twinbee. TONS of stuff.
MSXnet - Parodius Great article on the MSX Parodius.
Twinbee Land Also has a lot on Parodius.

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