What I liked:
- Another Konami shooter, but simply a huge improvement over Xexex last year. Weapons, gameplay, level design, graphics, music, score-based extends - all much better than in the R-Type clone. The only thing that Xexex did a lot better was the usage of shields. See below.
- Graphics and music. The graphics are colourful and the bosses outstandingly animated. But Parodius lives from its setting of course. The funny, cute and often rather obscure style adds greatly to the fun of the game and even makes some frustrating deaths more bearable. Same can be said for the soundtrack. Though borrowing from classical music a lot, it sounds unmistakably like Parodius due to the overall well executed rearrangements.
- The powerup system is great. Really. But just as long as you stay alive.
- Weapon variety and character selection are also cool. I tried everyone at least once, then chose Michael before sticking with Koitsu for the rest of the week. The characters without the traditional option system allow for great variety and yet fit well into Parodius.
- I was very much afraid of the bell chaining at the beginning of the week. It turned out it wasn't so bad in stage 1 and 2 at least. Admittedly, it even was fun to figure out the best ways not to break your chain. From stage 3 on it just got ridiculous nontheless because I couldn't find enough time to let off the fire button and grab the bells without getting massively overwhelmed. But I was surprised to find myself having some fun with the scoring.
- The bell powers are all fun and of good use if you just have the luck and/or eye coordination and planning to get the right one at the right time. Sadly I didn't have neither.
What I hated:
- Checkpoints and powerdowns. I think nothing more needs to be said here. It's unfair, cheap and not even necessary. Why can't you keep at least some of your powerups? Trying to recover at certain spots is cruel and for me next to impossible as I am not so good at it.
- The rank "helps" a lot with that. It goes insane quickly and then drops very slowly after dying. After the first death you are still encountered with countless bullets, just you don't have any weapons to deal with the enemies. After losing most of your lives, the rank is low enough to finally have a chance again. Wow.
- The hitbox always felt weird. Several times I had the impression that I died shortly before getting hit or I thought to have dodged a bullet yet died. Moreover the collision detection is very inconsistent. You can almost fly through the destroyable mass in stage 3, but the boss' lasers seemingly kill you even with a few pixels distance to your ship. Either I'm just not used to huge hitboxes anymore or Parodius' one is just messed up.
- How would I accept the unfair checkpoint system? If the game would still allow some mistakes without the brutal punishment, for example with shields. Gokujou Parodius does have shields, but they are mostly garbage. Some take more hits, but just protect you from the front, others increase your hitbox (probably double size) and vanish before they actually get useful. Koitsu's shield is decent actually (and the main reason why I chose him over Michael), can take a lot of hits and offers a little protection from above and below, too. Only problem is the lack of indication how many bullets it can still hold off. I still managed to get hit a lot from behind, too.
- The most terrifying thing about this game was stage 3 though and this statement is probably even more subjective than the rest. Not only have I never no missed it, moreover most of my runs ended here as I died in any possible way this stage offers. It actually got worse throughout the week. After constant improvements, I reached stage 5 a few times, but then problems just increased as I performed better, always got the Moai battleship after stage 2 and thus raised the rank for stage 3 to "insane". The limitation of movement, masses of durable enemies dancing all over the screen, countless bullets and stuff falling down... my god. There we have it again, the Xexex-style difficulty jump. Would have been a better stage 5 or so. Seriously, this stage will hunt me down in my nightmares. Forever.
So this was a week with very mixed feelings. Our team ended up struggling a lot and I was wasn't really happy with my score either. With 900,000 points I would have been, but stage 3 kept kicking me hard. CRI saved our asses, so our team result wasn't too bad.
13. CRI - 1,017,400
41. Battletoad - 787,600
42. m3tall1ca - 779,400
57. DJW - 723,600
88. Geist - 564,100