The Parodius Series is a series of horizontally-scrolling shooters developed by Konami. The games are tongue-in-cheek parodies of the Gradius series, hence the name (Parodius is a portmanteau on "parody"' and "Gradius"). It also parodies many other Konami franchises, including Antarctic Adventure, Taisen Puzzle Dama, Castlevania, Thunder Cross, Ganbare Goemon, Xexex, Lethal Enforcers, Tokimeki Memorial and TwinBee.
There are six games in the Parodius series (arranged by title, year of its debut and original platform). In addition, three Pachislot games based on the characters were released between 1998 and 2010.
- Parodius: 1988 - MSX
- Parodius Da!: 1990 - Arcade
- Gokujō Parodius!: 1994 - Arcade
- Jikkyō Oshaberi Parodius: 1995 - Super Famicom
- Sexy Parodius: 1996 - Arcade
- Paro Wars: 1997 - Sony Playstation
- Little Pirates: 1998
- CR Parodius Da!: 2000
- CR Gokujō Parodius!: 2006
- Gokuraku Parodius!: 2010
- Gokurako Parodius A: 2010
Numerous ports of the games have been created.
Parodius －Tako wa Chikyū o Sukū－ included in the MSX Antiques Collection for the Sega Saturn and the Sony PlayStation and also made available on Virtual Console (WII).
Parodius Da! －Shinwa kara Owarai e－ was ported to the Game Boy, Famicom (NES), Super Famicom (SNES) and the PC Engine
Gokujō Parodius! was ported to the Super Famicom, PlayStation and Saturn. The PlayStation and Saturn versions were a combined release of Parodius Da! －Shinwa kara Owarai e－ and Gokujō Parodius! called Gokujō Parodius Da! Deluxe Pack, released on both the PlayStation and Sega Saturn.
A compilation of all Parodius games have been released for the Sony PSP as a UMD release on January 2007 in Japan. A digital version for the PSP Go (a version of the PSP that lacks the UMD drive) was also made available for the PlayStation Network.
The first three games of the series were released in Japan for Cell Phones.
Only a few of the games were released outside Japan: Parodius Da! －Shinwa kara Owarai e－ and Gokujō Parodius! were released in Europe (as Parodius and Fantastic Journey respectively), but none of the games were released in the United States.
Some of the characters that appear in the various games in the series include the following:
- Tako, Takosuke, Takohiko and Belial. They are octopuses. Tako, known as Octopus or Mr.Parodius, appears in the MSX Parodius and Parodius Da! －Shinwa kara Owarai e－ He appears again in Jikkyo Oshaberi Parodius as a narrator (Oshaberi), his wife Noriko respectively narrating the second player at SS & PS1 Ports. Two of his offspring he used as options in the previous games took his place in next games: the first one, named as Takosuke, appears on Gokujyou Parodius along with Belial (a yellow female octopus). Another octopus, Takohiko takes Takosuke's place in Jikkyō Oshaberi Parodius. The names Takosuke and Takohiko are both portmanteaus of "tako", the Japanese word for octopus, and common endings of Japanese male names, "-suke" and "-hiko". It also makes cameos: The boss battle in Ganbare Goemon: Yukihime Kyuushutsu Emaki, His arms trapped in a giant plastic by Marine World in Ganbare Goemon: Uchuu Kaizoku Akogingu, he disguised himself as a pirate in Ganbare Goemon: Kurofune Tou no Nazo, Several characters from Konami on Print Station in Mitsumete Knight R, The enemy that spits out the snowball in Goemon: Toukai Douchuu, the title appears in New International Track & Field, the enemy like points in Elebits: The Adventures of Kai and Zero and Nou Kaihatsu Kenkyujo Kuru Kuru Lab.
- Hikaru and Akane, two showgirls in rabbit costumes riding on rockets. They're weapons are borrowed from Thunder Cross. They were bosses in Jikkyō Oshaberi Parodius, most likely as revenge for not being featured as playable characters. They return as usable characters in Sexy Parodius. The girls have made cameo appearances in many Konami games, such as Wai Wai World, Quiz Gakumon No Susume, Ganbare Goemon 3, Snatcher, TwinBee RPG, Bishi Bashi Champ, Bishi Bashi Special, Bishi Bashi Champ Online or Shout! Shaberin Champ Mobile, The cards in the Yu-Gi-Oh is replaced by the Gamble Angel Bunny in the Yu-Gi-Oh GX and changes the name of Ruby and Cobalt in Otomedius Excellent.
- Koitsu, Aitsu, Soitsu and Doitsu, little stick men flying on paper darts. They are also monsters in the Yu-Gi-Oh! trading card game whose full power cannot be utilized unless they're played in pairs. Their names are commonly used in Japanese slang terms to refer to people one does not know (Doitsu = who, Koitsu = this guy, Soitsu = that guy - far from the speaker, but near to the listener - , and Aitsu = that guy - far from both chatters). It also makes a cameos: A book as the game Tokimeki Memorial: Forever with you, as an unlockable character in Speed King NEO KOBE 2045, in the game Super Bishi Bashi Champ and in the two castlevania games: Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin and Castlevania: Harmony of Despair.
- Michael and Gabriel, two angelic pigs, named after two Christian archangels. They're loosely based on angel pig enemies appearing in Parodius Da! －Shinwa kara Owarai e－. Their weapon sets are constructed mostly from those weapons used in Taito's Darius series. Michael makes a cameo in TwinBee Yahho! appearing as a power-up.
- Mambo and Samba, two goofy looking Ocean sunfish: they're character is inspired from obscure MSX2 shooter Space Manbow. They are named after the music styles of the same names, as to pun the design of the "Space Manbow" ship (Since it looks like a mambo fish). Their weapon sets parody those used in the R-Type series, but the weapons are also implemented with functions from Xexex, such as search laser.
- Mike and Ran, a pair of cats with what looks like bandages between their legs, a comical way of suggesting they've been neutered. Mike's weapon set is heavily based on first Darius, while Ran takes her weapons from the R-Type Leo.
- Sue and Memim, two fairy girls. They replace Hikaru and Akane in Jikkyō Oshaberi Parodius.
- Ivan and Toby, two tough-looking penguins. The long yellow eyebrows of this duo are the most striking feature of this particular penguin species. They replace Pentarou and Hanako in Sexy Parodius.
- Black Viper, a new space ship only playable in Sexy Parodius. It has similar weapons to Shooting Star. It's most likely based from Gradius III Vic Viper, as the theme song of Black Viper is named "Departure for Sexy", which is a reference to Gradius III theme song "Departure for Space".
- Poti, a Dog Commander only playable in Paro Wars.
- Vic Viper and Lord British , of the original Gradius series.
- TwinBee and WinBee, the bee-shaped robots from the Twinbee series. They borrow their weapons from few bell powers used in their series.
- Penguin, Pentarou and Hanako, a pair of penguins, Pentarou is the son of the "Penguin" who originally appeared Antarctic Adventure, Penguin Adventure, Yume Penguin Monogatari, Tsurikko Penta, Super Fisherman Penta, Balloon Penta, Imo Hori Penta, Hie Hie Penta: Ice Cream Catcher and Penta no Tsuri Bōken DX. His weapon set is modified from those used in Gradius III, such as Spread Gun. He's usually seen sporting a machine gun, as to reference to Penguin's infamous gun weapon in Penguin Adventure.
- Goemon and Ebisumaru, from the Ganbare Goemon/Legend of the Mystical Ninja series. The former one was playable in MSX Parodius.
- Upa and Rupa, two super babies, the former debuting in the Famicom Disk System game Bio Miracle Bokutte Upa. Upa translates his weapons from Seibu Kaihatsu's Raiden using the milk bottles from his game or pacifiers. Rupa's weapons again are based on Toaplan's Truxton II.
- Dracula-kun and Kid Dracula, who are actually the same character. Both names reflect the games he starred in (Akumajou Special:Boku Dracula-kun and Kid Dracula) which are parodies on the Castlevania series.Dracula-Kun's weapon set mimics the one used in Axelay, while Kid Dracula would use Thunder Cross-based weapon set. Both weapon sets are parodied with a Castlevania twist, like having bats or candles. Occasionally umbrellas would be used as weapons or even as a shield- as to refer on the Kid Dracula's Bat Umbrella-spell from Kid Dracula.
- Option and Multiple, the mimic drones of Vic Viper and Lord British respectively. They have faces to denote self-consciousness and can change their forms by activating various modoki abilities, which let's them borrow few weapon sets from other characters. They appear as playable characters only in Sexy Parodius.
- Popolon, a knight from the MSX game Knightmare and its sequel Maze of Galious. He only appears in the MSX Parodius.
- Shooting Star, a red ship that appears as an enemy in Twinbee Yahho!. Piloted by Ace.
- Momo-chan, a dog player who appears in the game Susume! Taisen Puzzle Dama, He only appears in the PlayStation game: Paro Wars.
- Alice Wishheart, a girl witch in Pachislot Magical Halloween, She also only appears in the Pachislot Gokuraku Parodius!.
Gradius's mechanical and alien enemies have been almost completely removed from Parodius. There are several enemies that make it into every title. Some bosses in the Parodius games are parodies of Gradius bosses; the attacks and patterns remain the same, however the graphical look is usually changed to something more organic or cartoony.
Penguins: The most common enemy faced in any Parodius game. Usually there is one level that is within a penguin building, with viewports showing penguins at work. The penguins are anthropomorphic; wielding weapons, operating machinery, and even listening to music. There are a couple penguin bosses as well.
Octopodes: Another common enemy faced in the Parodius series. In almost every Parodius game, an octopus serves as the final boss.
Large women as boss creatures: Every Parodius game features one or more bosses that persist of scantily clad women (or penguins, or octopuses). Sexy Parodius, as its name would imply, is composed of several such women as its bosses.
Excessive amounts of moai: Making light of the famous Easter Island statues that appear in almost every Gradius game, the Parodius games often have a comical moai boss, which may be presented wearing lipstick or given other anthropomorphic features. Parodius Da! －Shinwa kara Owarai e－ and Gokujō Parodius! ~Kako no Eikō o Motomete~ have an entire stage featuring moai; including a large moai ship, a moai boss that shoots moai out of her mouth, little moai cannons, and moai obstacles. Jikkyō Oshaberi Parodius also features a moai stage parodying Tokimeki Memorial.
One of the more distinctive features about the series is the extensive use of classical music and other well known music, in what could be termed as wacky remixes. There are also a number of rehashes of in game music from Gradius and other Konami games -- very little of the series' music was newly composed.
The Parodius series borrows the power-up bar system from the Gradius series. However, the order and types of power-ups are somewhat inconsistent between characters; some characters may have more than one missile or may not have a laser-type weapon, for example. True to the game series' theme, many of the weapon sets are actually either direct weapons or borrowed parodies of the weapons used in other Konami's shoot-em ups- even expanding to poke fun at the other game industries' famous shooters, such as Taito's Darius and Irem's R-Type. Some power-ups exclusive to Parodius include:
- Homing Missile: Two missiles are fired at once and track the enemy. Later on included in Otomedius.
- Double: Most Double power-ups split firepower in more than two directions.
- B-Shot (Boomerang Shot): Fires a boomerang that bounces off the first wall or enemy it hits. Used by Hikaru in the SNES port of Gokujo Parodius, Kid Dracula in Jikkyō Oshaberi Parodius: Forever With Me, and by Option in Sexy Parodius. This is taken directly from Thunder Cross.
- Spread Gun: Bullets explode on impact, similarly to the Spread Bomb from Gradius games, or more closely, the Gravity Bullet from Gradius Gaiden. Enemies can be damaged in the blast. The bullets will slant upward or downward if the character was moving up or down when they were fired. Hikaru's Carrot Shot is similar but does not leave explosions.
- Option: Twinbee's Options are retained from its original game; the Options are only visible when moving and retract to the player's position when the player stops moving. Known as Funshin in his game series.
- Grade Up: Some characters have this power-up in lieu of Option. It increases the firepower of all available weapons. For example, it can increase and divert firepower in more directions, increase laser width, increase missile deployment rate, etc.
- Shields and Force Fields: Unlike Gradius, which labels shield and force field power-ups as "?", Parodius games label such power-ups properly.
- Oh!: Originally in Gradius III, this simply strips the player of all power-ups and sets movement speed to normal. The voiceover says "Oh my god!" upon collection of this power-down. This is also called "!?" in Parodius Da! －Shinwa kara Owarai e－. It is included to add risk to the roulette as wel as to manipulate rank. In the ports of Jikkyo Oshaberi Parodius, it can be replaced with a roulette game instead.
Roulette / Blizzard
When enabled, some power-up pods start a roulette on the power-up bar. The player then presses the power-up button to stop the roulette and get whatever power-up the roulette stops on. The player must be careful not to get the "Oh!" power-up ("!?" in Parodius Da! －Shinwa kara Owarai e－) between the last two power-ups, for this will remove all power-ups from the player and reset movement speed to minimum. This cancels any prior progress made on the bar. In European versions of the game, this feature was renamed Blizzard.
Originally from the Twinbee games, these typically give temporary power-ups that have varied throughout the series. True to their origin, the bells' colors can be cycled by shooting them. The new bell colors have remained somewhat constant in meaning throughout latter games in the series.
- Yellow Bell
- Gives points. Subsequent yellow bells increase in point value from 500 points up to 10,000 points. Missing a bell will cause the bonus to revert back to 500 points, which will then increase with each yellow bell again.
- White Bell
- Gives your character a megaphone for a short period of time. Out of the megaphone is placed a sentence in Japanese (or English in the European version), the text of which can be collided into bullets and enemies to damage them. When this bell is collected, the effects of previous bells and defense power-ups are cancelled. In Sexy Parodius, this instead summons Alex, a Pac-Man-like helper character that eats enemies. However, Alex will not harm "female" enemies. Alex has an HP counter that can be refilled with yellow bells and increased with more white bells.
- Green Bell
- Enlarges your character 400%. While your character is in this enlarged state, they cannot fire any weapons, but is also invulnerable to all damage; this allows your character to collide into walls and enemies (thus killing them) without taking damage. However, no bells can be collected or defense power-ups activated until the effect expires. This also cancels stored weapons from other bells as well as any shields present on activation.
- Purple Bell
- Converts all weak enemies into power-up pods and/or bells. This was first available in Gokujō Parodius!.
- Red Bell
- Provides three rounds of the Kiku Beam. A miniature version of your character flies ahead of your character and spreads a long vertical beam that can act as a barrier that damages enemies and destroys enemy bullets. It scrolls with the screen.
- Blue Bell
- Provides one Super Bomb. A large explosion floods the screen and destroys all enemies within. Up to three blue bells can be collected in sequence and saved for later use. Note that this is not possible in Sexy Parodius as the bomb is fired when the Fire button is pressed.
Parodius in other media
- In the Yu-Gi-Oh! Trading Card Games, Koitsu, Aitsu, Soitsu, Doitsu appear as monster cards. English versions of the cards are also available.
- In Gamest Comics Collection, Those Parodius Characters in Gokujyou Parodius appear as Manga and Comics Japanese, Created by Namie Iwao and Released in 1995.
- A Snatcher Parody comic titled Snatcher Da!.
In late 2007, Konami released Otomedius (オトメディウス (Otomediusu, オトメディウス?) Otome Acronym: Maiden and Gradius), whose characters (designed by Mine Yoshizaki) are stylized with beautiful girls in spaceships. Among the ships to choose from are:
- Vic Viper from Gradius (piloted by Aoba Anoa)
- Lord British from Salamander Series (piloted by Eru Tron)
- Xel Viper from Thunder Cross (piloted by Emon Five)
- Murdoch Viper from TwinBee (piloted by Madoka, the grandchild of Dr. Mardock)
- Serenity Viper from Xexex (piloted by Diol Twee)
- Bigcore examiner from Nemesis and Gradius NEO Imperial (piloted by Tita Nium).
Despite similarities in the tone (in that Otomedius is not as serious looking as the Gradius series, as is the Parodius series), they are considered as a separate timeline.
- 16-Bit Block (Gokujo Parodius boss) is known as one of the most unbeatable bosses in video game history.
- Starting with Gokujō Parodius, the Power Meter was changed from a bar with the weapon names as text to a bar with pictures indicating the powerups. The borders of each icon determine the gameplay type chosen, red for auto, yellow for semi-auto and blue for manual. As this kind of power meter is shorter, two separate power meters appear on screen on a two player game. Note that the SNES parodius games still use the classic power meter and that the PSX and PSP version of Jikkyō Oshaberi Parodius simply use the first letter of the weapon name.