Silent Hill wasn’t the first great series that Konami released multiple entries of then turned into Pachinko machines (and it won’t be the last). Fans of 1990s SHMUPs will recall that Konami developed some of the best series in the genre. Gradius and TwinBee were their flagship franchises, but it’s Parodius, the series parodying Gradius, TwinBee, and other Konami franchises, that sticks with me the most.
The last scrolling shooter in the Parodius series, Sexy Parodius, debuted in arcades, PlayStation, and Sega Saturn in 1996. Ostensibly this game has a story told in brief cutscenes between stages. Takosuke (an octopus) has opened an agency to help clients with problems and is assisted by Pentarou (a penguin). You have to take the role of one of their “workers” employed by the agency. That flimsy narrative is about as close as Sexy Parodius gets to making sense.
To solve these client’s problems you have to fly through entirely nonsensical stages. You can play as Vic Viper, a flying pig, a flying penguin, a small stick figure riding a paper airplane, a flying fish, floating blobs (crafted after the Vic Viper drones), or Shooting Star (another space fighter). Each of these characters also has a companion that appears when a second player joins the fray.
Unlike the title suggests, the game isn’t very sexy at all (it keeps it PG-13). It is however hilarious. The first stage, through the fields of some countryside, reminds me of Cuphead, if only because the stage boss is a giant ear of corn that shoots popcorn at you. Before you get there, everything is trying to kill you, especially things that don’t seem like they should.
In Sexy Parodius everything has the ability to fly and wants you dead for some reason. Sheep, goats, derpy dogs, and cats with jetpack feet are just a few of the types of enemies you’ll face. This game only released in Japan, and I can’t read Japanese, so maybe I’m missing something here. But, I don’t think there’s anything more to giant floating bathtubs with women in them that act as obstacles you have to fly around than pure ridiculousness.
Unfortunately, this game is hard to find in the West. The arcade version of Sexy Parodius was released in Japan and parts of Asia, but the Saturn and PlayStation editions never left their country of origin. A Saturn or PlayStation copy will likely set you back over $100 on eBay, and even the 2007 re-release on PSP, Parodius Portable, tends to be expensive.
The cheapest way to get Sexy Parodius is to try and find an international shipper on Amazon Japan, where the game runs around the equivalent of $40-50. The trick is actually finding a shipper that will send games outside of Japan. You may have to just keep checking back, but eventually, you’ll find a cheap copy. Just make sure to search for the Japanese name of the game to find it (セクシーパロディウス).
Sexy Parodius isn’t a long game by any means, but it’s one of the best shooters Konami released in my opinion. The bright colors and nonsensical environments and enemies are a great contrast to the dark, sci-fi styling that a lot of SHMUPs have. Playing it is a great trip back to when Konami was one of the kings of the industry, and the gameplay is as good as the laughs.