Together Retro Game Club: Gradius III / Parodius

Presented by fastbilly1
New To Together Retro? Check out the introduction to the club

What do a spaceship, a paper airplane, giant space snakes, Maoi, and options, have in common?  If you guessed the Gradius series, well you might be a gamer.  If you guessed something else, please post it below.  Thats right boys and girls this month’s Together Retro is another two parter – Gradius III and Parodius.  And not just any Parodius, Gokujō Parodius! ~Kako no Eikō o Motomete~(Fantastic Parodius: To Pursue the Glory of the Past).  Its a double whammy of 16bit horizontal shooters.

History

Gradius is a long running series of horizontal shooters.  Starting in 1985 as a humble arcade title, the series expanded and grew over the years.  Now there are over ten titles in the series proper, and over twenty when you include the spinoffs.  The third of the eponymous titles upped the ante and created a very difficult title.  For starters, there is no continue option once you run out of lives.  It also has some unforgiving sections (the pseudo 3d stage 4 and the crystal section).  However for all the difficulty that III gave us, it did one thing that changed the series forever: Gradius III introduced customization to the iconic powerup system allowing the players to freely choose their powerup teirs.  That one change makes Gradius III a very important title in the history of the series.  In Gradius and Gradius II you were stuck with a choice fo four weapon layouts.  With III you could mix and max and get a setup you liked.  There were still only 60 or so different combinations, but that let you figure out the best way for you to play the game, which was, and is, very important to gamers.

The Gradius series is no stranger to spinoffs, with several series being based on the engine or on the titles.  The two most prominent spinoffs are the Salamander and Parodius series.  Salamander, or as some gamers know it Lifeforce, is a series that pits the player in both horizontal and vertical shooter stages and it is renowned for its difficulty.  Parodius on the other hand is played exactly like Gradius but is simply insane.  Just watch this video of the first stage of Sexy Parodius:

The most interesting part of these spin offs is that the secondary ship from Salamander, the Lord British, is in both Gradius and Parodius titles as a playable character – the Vic Viper is playable in all of the titles mentioned.

Why We Chose These Games for the Club

Gradius III is known to be one of the hardest games in the series.  So hard infact, that Konami pulled it from arcades fairly quickly.  It is also a solid game all around that every gamer should atleast try.  Shooters are not for everyone, and horis for even less, but Gradius III is a fantastic one to get started on aslong as you go in knowing that it is a hard title.  Parodius on the other hand is a game that everyone has to experience in some form or fashion.  The entire Parodius line is worth playing, but Gokujo is by far in the top three.  I mean what other game lets you play a stickman on a paper airplane that drops other stickmen as bombs?  That is like something out of a Philip K Dick novel.

Legacy

  • Gradius – 1985
  • Salamander – 1986
  • Gradius 2 – 1987 (MSX title where you fly the Metalion instead of the Vic Viper – rereleased as Nemesis ’90 Kai)
  • Gradius II – 1988
  • Parodius – 1988
  • Gofer no Yabō Episode II – 1988 (MSX only title)
  • Gradius III – 1989
  • Nemesis – 1990
  • Parodius Da – 1990
  • Gradius: The Interestellar Assault – 1991
  • Gokujo Parodius – 1994
  • Jikkyo Oshaberi Parodius – 1995
  • Salamander 2 – 1996
  • Sexy Parodius – 1996
  • Gradius Gaiden – 1997
  • Solar Assault – 1997
  • Paro Wars – 1997
  • Gradius IV – 1999
  • Graduis Galaxies – 2001
  • Gradius V – 2004
  • Otomedius – 2007
  • Gradius ReBirth – 2008
  • Otomedius Gorgeous – 2008
  • Gradius Arc – 2010
  • Gokuraku Parodius – 2010

Controls

  • Stick – Move
  • Button 1 – Shoot
  • Button 2 – Shoot 2 (Missile)
  • Button 3 – Upgrade

Recommended Ports

As always arcade versions of arcade games are typically the best.  However if you are going the port route the SNES, PSX, Saturn, and PSP all have capable ports of Gokujo Parodius, but only the SNES, PS2, PSP, and Wii have ports of Gradius III.  If you are going to go the purchasing route, I suggest buying the SNES/SFC versions.  They are fairly priced and it is easy to mod a USA SNES to play SFC games (sorry PAL gamers).  Now the SNES port of Gradius III is changed in several ways – the stages have been rearranged, bosses named differently, and the final stage is split, so when you are commenting on the forums make sure to note which version you are playing.

Together Retro Discussion

Instead of posting in the comments section of the blog, we will be using the forum for all of our discussion in order to keep things more organized. So play one or both of these shmups and talk to us about your thoughts and play experiences in the forums. We want to know your favorite parts, your successes and your failures.
Discuss The Game In The Forum

2 Comments

  1. extrarice says:

    Plus, the SNES version of Gradius III is much, much easier than the arcade version.

  2. MetalFRO says:

    Too right, extrarice. The SNES port is still quite difficult, but the abundance of slowdown helps make it more playable. The PS2 and PSP ports are near-arcade perfect from what I understand. I own both, and can vouch that III is most definitely the hardest and most frustrating game of the series. I will vouch for the PSP Parodius Collection as well – it’s a fantastic port of several Parodius games, including Gokujo and Sexy Parodius, both of which I would consider pinnacles of the off-shoot series.