With the release of Parodius Portable in Japan, Konami has taken five of the best the Parodius series has to offer and placed them all together in one nice and tidy Sony PSP package. Parodius Portable contains: Parodius, Parodius Da!, Gokujou Parodius, Chatting Parodius, and Sexy Parodius all on one PSP UMD disc. So is this Japanese-only shooter collection really worth the time, money, and trouble to import?
Konami has really outdone themselves with this collection of Parodius titles. Not only did they manage to choose the 5 best games in the series for inclusion in this collection, but they have somehow managed to create a zoom feature to make the games fill the PSP screen without making everything look blurry or pixelated. You can still choose to play the games in their original resolution or even a slightly larger area of the screen that fills the PSP screen vertically, but there's really no reason to play them that way since you can get them to fill the entire widescreen of the PSP and look outstanding while doing so. The visuals are perfectly emulated and the music has never sounded better. The game also gives you the option of listening to all of the many songs found in each game in music mode and this option is available from the start. Five amazing shooters and tons of options all come together to produce of one of the finest shooter collections ever released. But just how well does each title individually stack up? Read on.
Parodius (1988) - This is the earliest title and you'll notice that right off. The graphics do manage to hold up pretty well considering this title was released almost 20 years ago. The music in the game is not quite what music in the later Parodius releases were, but it's still catchy enough to keep the volume up. The only area of this game that feels truly dated is the game play aspect itself. It's difficult to see enemy fire which makes it very easy to accidentally fly into an enemy shot without even knowing it. Couple that together with the fact that the game is very difficult to begin with and what you get is a fun, but sometimes frustrating shooter experience that just doesn't have enough of the personality of the later Parodius games to overlook the shortcomings. A good game but easily the weakest link of the five titles included in this collection. Good for its time but this one hasn't aged well. (RATING: 6/10)
Parodius Da! (1990) - Parodius Da! is probably the most recognized game of the series and has seen releases to a far wider demographic throughout the years as well. Having seen a release on over 10 game systems, this is the game most people think of when they hear the name "Parodius." The game looks fantastic and has a distinctly upbeat and circus-style soundtrack that goes along with the over-the-top areas, enemies, and bosses found throughout its many levels. The difficulty isn't too tough so just about anyone should be able to enjoy this game without having too much trouble in getting through the levels. Anyone that's played this game surely remembers the first time they saw the Submarine Cat mid-level boss that let out a loud "meow" every time you fired at it. It's silly things like this that took the Parodius series in the perfect direction it went in. This is the game that kicked off the outstanding Parodius series in most people's eyes and it makes a great addition to this classic collection. It might not be as graphically thrilling as some of the later titles, but this game has it where it counts and provides a solid challenge for those who are foolish enough to think the game will be a pushover based on the way it looks and sounds. (RATING: 8/10)
Gokujou Parodius (1994) - Gokujou Parodius builds on everything that was introduced in Parodius Da! and even includes many new characters to pilot through the game including my personal favorite Mambo the bulletfish. It also introduced us to the now-famous "Mermaid Boss." The visuals in this game were a huge step up from Parodius Da! and you'll notice it a lot when you run into enemies or bosses that were used in the previous Parodius Da! release. The difference in sheer color and detail is staggering, especially on the Submarine Cat mid-level boss. Everything about Gokujou Parodius is just bigger, better, and faster than any of the previous games and is widely considered to be the best Parodius game of them all, although I'd disagree with that just a little. Musically this game is where the series really began to shine and every single zany track in this game will keep you humming along as you fly through level after level of insanity. While this game shares more than a few similarities with Parodius Da!, this is not a remake or update so don't confuse the two games. Both are definitely worth at least a few hours of your time. Once again, the difficulty is toned down a little so anyone can enjoy this classic. This is a fantastic game and one any Parodius fan is going to immediately love. (RATING: 9/10)
Jikkyou Oshaberi Parodius (1996) - While there's no doubt that this is a Parodius game, this is the one title of the series that seems to stick out to me. It's still got all of the crazy looks and sounds of the Parodius games, but now you get to listen to a Japanese TV show host shouting insults and ridiculing you throughout each level. If it sounds weird, that's because it is. The music is some of the best the Parodius series has ever contained and despite this constant barrage of yelling, it really seems to work well together to form the experience that's given the game the nickname "Chatting" Parodius. Visually the game is gorgeous and sports more detail and depth than any previous Parodius release. Even the bosses in the game are spectacular and show the kind of detail that this series was destined for. This is my favorite of the Parodius releases and to me best captures exactly what the Parodius series was meant to be in the first place. Tons of characters to choose from, and enough firepower to knock down any insane boss in the game abound in this title. This is the Parodius game that will actually make you laugh out loud and will keep you coming back for more. (RATING: 10/10)
Sexy Parodius (1996) - As I said above, Chatting Parodius is my all-time favorite Parodius title, but it's Sexy Parodius that I think is the pinnacle of the series. Graphically this game is the best of the bunch and sports beautiful detail throughout the levels of the game. The music is as over-the-top happy as ever, but this time Konami is not only spoofing their Gradius series, they've gone after all of their classic titles including the monster Konami hit Castlevania series. Yep, you'll see parts of levels that look like they were taken straight out of a Castlevania game complete with matching enemies to go along with it. And as if that weren't enough, Konami even throws in some classic Castlevania music to go along with it. I won't give away any of the other included spoofed Konami titles, but rest assured, there are plenty of them to go around. Sexy Parodius also has some of the biggest and best-looking bosses of any of the previous releases. You'll know you're in for a treat when you come upon the first boss which is a giant Medusa Head complete with all of the snakes coming out of her head. Now granted, she may look cute at first, but once she begins to unload on you, you'll know she means business. Those of you wondering where this game got its name, it comes from the way the game uses a lot of half-naked women throughout the game. Some are barely holding cover over their bare bodies and others are soaking in a nice bubble-bath. It's all cute and harmless fun but it does give the game a fresh theme to hang onto and provides a lot of laughs along the way. Sexy Parodius is the last and best release of the series and thankfully it's been included in this amazing package. (RATING: 10/10)
Never before has such an outstanding shooter package been put together and released for one system. Now PSP owners can be proud to own this great title and fans of the Parodius series can now have all the great games together on one tiny UMD disc. For those who've not yet experienced the series, now is as good a time as any to go out and import this title since there's no region protection on PSP games. It will only set you back about $40 but it would be a bargain at twice that. (OVERALL RATING: 9/10)