Note: The review was done on actual Turbografx 16 hardware with no emulation. This game is also imported from Japan.
It is Parodius Da! Is this game a sustaining classic? Does it stand the test of time? And most important of all, the question everyone wants to know, will it earn the fabled Malstrom Award?
Above: Parodius Da! gameplay
Parodius Da! has a subtitle: From Myth to Laughter.
How does Pariodius Da! stack up to the other versions? The Super Nintendo version is the closest to the arcade port and has an additional bathhouse level. But the PC-Engine version is very good port too and has its own bonus level (better than the SNES version as the SNES level is mostly empty space). Unfortunately, the fifth and eighth levels have been cut.
Parodius Da! is an extraordinary game. The game begins with several options including an EASY, NORMAL, or HARD mode (so everyone can have fun). You can choose four different ships. Here they are:
You have the Vic Viper whose power-up options are the same as in Gradius. You have Twinbee from Konami’s other game. There is an Octopus and a Penguin, apparently different mascots of Konami, who have their own different weapons. All in all, this is fantastic and gives the game tremendous replay value. I love all four choices and cannot say which one is better. There are also special bells you can get which power up your ship in other ways such as making your ship REALLY BIG and invincible!
It is really hard to talk about shmups in a review since, as you know, you shoot things and dodge things. What is there to discuss? Let’s talk about the enemies. In Parodius Da!, the game has very interesting enemies because they are all intentionally absurd such as this catboat below:
What really clicks with Parodius Da! is just how much detail is in the game. When you kill the piggies, the goddess cries.
Above: she cries when you kill her piggies
Details abound like this throughout the entire game. You want to keep replaying it to find them all.
Parodius Da! is a very meaty shooter. It is arguably one of the best shmups on the PC-Engine (which is saying much with a system flooded with shmups). While this game may be the harbinger of the cute-em-ups, the game is as solid and meaty as any classic Gradius title.
The music is great too. Did you know Parodius Da! has tracks of Tetris and Mario Land in it? Well, it doesn’t, but those tracks are based off of the same classical music. Many of the tunes of Parodius, which sounds to me like they copied all the songs, are from famous classical music songs.
Above: Nice warm PC-Engine 16 synths…
This is a fantastic game, and I am stunned to see no video reviews of it on Youtube. There are many playthroughs, but there is little reviewing about the game (aside from some whose language I cannot understand). Perhaps it is the PC-Engine version of Parodius that is why it is being missed as the game has been ported to other systems.
I keep coming back to this game again and again. It sounds great. It plays great. It has high replayability. There is one major flaw that really ruins the game: the gradius power-up system. The game is great until you die the first time. Then… you want to turn off the system. Happily, the Konami cheat code works in this title so you have another go at it with full power-ups. There is also some strange pausing before the gigantic bosses appear. This game is fantastic and a must buy if you do not mind the gradius power-up system.
Disclaimer: The ‘quality’ is gauged only by how often I return to the game. TG16 games are not isolated; they are compared to every other game out there. A game can be ‘bad’ and keep me coming back. A game can be ‘good’ that I never want to touch again. Irrational addictive-ness, which defies quantification, is the only element examined here.
-TG 16 Games Reviewed So Far-
Malstrom Awards: (Addictive and Awesome even today, they refuse to age. Score of 10)
Devil’s Crush [$68] Imaginative sound and gothic theme. You’ll keep coming back to this one.)
Galaga ’90 [$34] (Purest shmup I have ever seen. This will still be played 50 years from now.)
Final Soldier [$30] (Good music and polish, easier difficulty, multiple powerup options. laser bubbles! Consistently fun.)
Parasol Stars [$85] (Better than Bubble Bobble. No one realizes how legendary this game is… yet.)
R-type [$40] (Never gets old because it can never be beaten. Fun to try here and there.)
Salamander [$40] (Challenging and addictive. If you like NES Life Force, you will love this.)
Soldier Blade [$100] (Consistently fun, great difficulty balance, perhaps best shmup on system and of all time)
Honorable Mentions: (Good games that are flawed or gameplay has suffered aging. Score of 6-9)
(9) Blazing Lazers [$37] (Inconsistent quality, long stretches of boredom, yet fun to return to again and again)
(9) Gomola Speed [$15] (Snake meets Gauntlet. Genre defying. Gameplay hurts hand.)
(9) Parodius Da! [$45] (Amazing attention to detail, great replayability, but the Gradius power up system is no longer fun)
(7) Alien Crush [$22] (Interesting, addictive, but flawed. Good to play as a break to Devil’s Crush)
(6) Bonk’s Adventure [$33] (Meh platformer oozes incredible charm)
(6) Dragon Spirit [$30] (Jurassic atmosphere is charming. Sluggish controls, hard-to-come-back after dying)
(6) Super Star Soldier [$73] (Extremely generic, obtuse challenge. Solid gameplay. Extremely over-rated. No personality.)
(6) World Court Tennis [$16] (Most interesting RPG on the TG 16. Seriously.)
Don’t bother: (Not fun to play today. Score of 5 and below.)
(5) Gradius [$30] (Four options can cause slowdown, but this arcade port remains difficult and very nostalgic.)
(5) Military Madness [$44] (Overrated, dated gameplay, repetitious, dull colorless setting of the moon)
(5) Neutopia [$76] (boring, bad game design, can’t hold a candle to Zelda, fire wand is only thing going for this game)
(5) Raiden [$72] (Overrated, more frustrating than challenging, no 2 player mode that was in arcade)
(4) Bomberman [$40] (dull and boring, totally surpassed by its sequels on this system)
(4) Boxy Boy [$27] (Solid puzzle game, but it gets stale fast. Contains level editor.)
(4) Ninja Gaiden [$80] (Compared to NES: worse sound and controls, terrible parallax scrolling. Nothing to see here.)
(4) Space Invaders [$12] (Arcade and Plus mode. Plus mode is cool but the game is still dull, dull, dull.)
(4) Shockman [$110] (Cool graphics and vibe, no polish, and frustrating gameplay. Play Mega Man instead.)
(3) Moto Roader [$17] (5 player party game, great upgrade system, terrible core gameplay. USE HANDLE B!)
(3) Street Fighter 2: Champion Edition [$20] (2 button controller is terrible for 6 button game. Good luck getting a 6 button controller.)
(1) Keith Courage in Alpha Zones [$10] (The 16 bit version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.)