Most any fan of Konami games knows about the excellent 2D shooters they have put out over the years. From Gradius to Salamander (Life Force) to Axelay, Konami has always been able to make fun and rewarding shooters - all accompanied by excellent music. Unfortunately, gamers in America were shut out of what in my opinion is the best Konami shooter series of them all - Parodius. The reason for the very odd name is that the games are a PAROdy of graDIUS... in more than one way. Besides having the same excellent gameplay, the series also features lots of Gradius tunes in wacky form. However, what the series is best known for musically is its excellent parodies of classical music.
"Parodius Da!" is the first Parodius game, released in the arcades in 1990, which this soundtrack is based upon. In 1997, Konami generously re-released a number of their older soundtracks, and this one was among them.
The soundtrack to Parodius Da! is probably not quite like anything you've heard before from a game music CD, baring the others in the series. Like most any shooter, there's stage music and boss music, and a few other things like opening and ending. True to Gradius form, Parodius also features "power up" tunes, the music played at the beginning of each stage in the space part, before that actual stage proper begins. Parodius Da! features four such tunes, tracks 5, 12, 18, and 23, each one corresponding to the four selectable characters in the game. All are newly composed for the game, however the opening part of Twinbee's theme is the same as the fanfare in the Twinbee games. Gradius music itself is also found in the soundtrack. Two of the boss themes, tracks 11 and 27, are nicely remixed versions of Gradius boss themes. Also, the final stage's music, track 26, corresponds to the final stage's music from Gradius.
All this, however, is really just icing on the cake to the main highlight - the wacky remixes of classical music favorites. There's a lot of well known and not so well known music, all played back with silly instruments, great bass rifts, and a lot of percussion. Included among the pieces are Tchaikovsky's "Piano Concerto #1" and some music from his ballets Swan Lake and the Nutcracker, "Sabre Dance" by Khatchaturian, "Under the Double Eagle March" by JF Wagner, "Farandole" by Bizet, "Thunder and Lightning Polka" by Johann Strauss Jr., "Flight of the BumbleBee" by Rimsky-Korsakov, "William Tell Overture" by Rossini, "Can-Can" by Offenbach, and "Night on Bald Mountain" by Grieg. Much of the time, more than one of these themes is weaved in and out masterfully and wonderfully.
Also included on the soundtrack are a couple bonus tracks. The first track seems to be a sort of mood track, not related to the music in the game, but rather just to set the "space" mood. Another is track 34, a very well done (and humorous) medley of music from the game. Next, on track 35 is a very pretty bell-synth version of "Waltz of the Flowers" from the Nutcracker (one of the three pieces from this ballet featured in the game). I always love hearing some of my favorite tunes done in new ways, and this is a pleasure to listen to. The final track is a sound effects collection.
While the music of the game is incredibly good, unfortunately the sound quality lacks. Being an arcade game from 1990, the instruments all have a very pinched feel and don't sound real at all. Luckily Konami uses this to its advantage; however, sometimes the sound gets on my nerves, especially after listening to music from other games in the series.
Overall, this soundtrack is a good buy. While it is in my opinion the weakest in the series, it's still excellent in its own right, and it's now very cheap. Weather or not you've played the game, it's a refreshing change from the epic music of RPGs or the seriousness of other shooters.