Sexy Parodius was never released in the United States. It’s said that the patriotic American bald eagle that acts as a recurring boss in the series would have been considered inappropriate.
How that boss is singled out when there’s a psychic raccoon whose giant testicles explode when defeated is beyond me.
The Parodius series is best described as Gradius with a satirical core, and while it’s most well-known for its silly enemies and absurdist visuals, it’s also a game that matches its inspiration in quality. Parodius opposes the idea of sugar-coating poor mechanics for a cheap laughs, and as a result it’s not an easy series to beat. The games are good, tight shooters first, and lighthearted parodies second.
This seriousness of mechanics is, indeed, diametrically opposed to its comedic aspects. That’s why the game is funny! Comedy is found in the difference between two wildly-different realities, in the irrational, in the surprise as two irreconcilable concepts clash.
Shooters have had a suggestive aura since Irem’s R-Type was released into arcades in 1987, but its treatment of sexuality was downright nightmarish. Sexy Parodius, the final game in its series, fixed all that. Tired of horrible mutant genitalia? Here are some cute women! Bored of the guttural grunts the boss makes when hit? Solved! Sex is supposed to be fun, and it is fun here.
Sexy Parodius isn’t as easy as the average modern game, but it’s great for beginners. You’re given the choice between different automation levels. The easiest of them, full-auto, automatically chooses power-ups for you and replaces the notoriously-difficult checkpoints of Gradius with instant respawn, while also lowering the difficulty every time you are killed. Given how crazy the game can get if you do too well, this is more than welcome.
There’s also something in Sexy Parodius that greatly helps beginners, and that’s the mission system. Apparently, the Parodius crew has been having some financial problems and cannot pay their suspiciously-inflated bills, so they have been forced to put themselves on hire, meaning each stage has an additional objective like collecting coins or shooting 50 kimono girls. It’s a bit superfluous, but it promotes the development of strategies, making you think about what routes you take and how you handle the level, a more important skill than reflex in Gradius-like games.
No amount of talking about Parodius would be complete without mentioning the cheerful soundtrack that has become an integral part of the series. Featuring remixes of masters such as Tchaikovsky, Beethoven and Georgie Dann, it managed to turn the electronic scare chords of Gradius into fun, catchy songs that stick with you long after playing the game.
Sexy Parodius was released for both PlayStation and Saturn back in 1996, but modern audiences have the benefit of the Parodius Portable PSP compilation that includes every single Parodius game at a lesser price. Since it’s region-free, you can import with fewer problems. You have no excuse!