The first Parodius offered the following "ships": the Vic Viper
, the boxing glove equipped Twinbee from Pop'n Twinbee
, a blue penguin that shoots bullets from its beak (named Pentaru), and a dark pink octopus (Takosuke). Later permutations allowed you to play as a stickman riding a paper airplane (Koitsu), a flying pig (Micheal), a show girl (Hikaru), a pink
penguin (Hanako, a girl, naturally), the baby hero from Biomiracle Bokutte Upa, Goeman from the Mystical Ninja
series, and so on. All of them have different weapon upgrades, though they all start out with a single bullet-type weapon and their first upgrade is always "speed up!
". Gameplay combines the weapon system from Gradius
with the bell system from Pop'n Twinbee
(see that node for more).
The music in Parodius falls into two distinct catergories: humorous remixes of Gradius songs, and hyperactive versions of classical music, jazz standards, etc. The Gradius remixes usually figure in during the prefaces to the levels, during which you travel through a star field and try to grab as many power ups as possible by shooting the conviently offered enemies. Then the background color will shift, and suddenly you're no longer in space; the The Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy or The Stars and Stripes Forever is blaring in high pitched, synthesized glory and there are crying penguins to kill!