In 2002, Taito and PCCW (Pacific Century CyberWorks) brought us a new Darius for the Gameboy Advance, but this game was a remake of the 1986 arcade classic, but the ultimate question is "It'd be good?", well let's find out.
The gameplay of Darius R is basically the same as the original arcade, however there's some changes which sacrifies the arcade accuracy but they favor the player at the same time, starting with the power-up system, which was reduced from 6 points to only 4, also the R-Type like die and start back was removed, this really comes in handy during the boss battles because it was kinda unfair that you had to start the boss battle again. All this things sounds too good, but like an old quote said "If something is too good to be true, odds are it is", and it's true because there's one problem: The arcade-accurate game screen is way too big for the Gameboy Advance, so the player has to maneuver the screen which can be a problem as the player can't see every thing happening, remember Thunder Force IV?, it's practically the same, while in Thunder Force IV this large screen thing was used correctly, in Darius R it became a flaw that favors the cheap deaths, well, that depends on the difficulty level selected by the player. Speaking of difficulty, the game's final bonus increase depending on how hard the game was played.
If you played other Darius games before playing the original Darius you might be asking "where's the Next Zone map?", well in the original Darius arcade, the route to the next zone appears when the "Boss Scene" splits in two ways, the player has to decide if he/she wants to go up or down, speaking of Zones, the game was reduced of 28 zones to 15, which makes the game look more like a light version of the arcade rather than a remake.
There's also a One Stage option where the player can select one of the 15 available levels. You might think "if i beat the game once i'll be able to play all", no man, you have to play each of the zones to unlock them, that favors the replay value.
Graphically i've gotta admit this game is very arcade accurate in the Silver Hawk sprite and the shield "energy" effect, while some of the stages, and i say some because most of the scenes were redesigned or changed for something very different, for instance, the industrial scenery of Zone C has a new space colony background, and some stages are changed, the boss scenery is completely arcade accurate with the classic "whirling clouds" background and the cavern ground and ceiling. Speaking of bosses, its a mix-mash of arcade and PC Engine versions, while bosses like King Fossil and Electric Fan are using the original arcade sprites, others like Guard Savage, Mystic Power and Tough Spring uses the Darius Plus / Super Darius designs, put them together and this ones look very inferior and more simplistic in look and animation quailties. It's basically the same issue seen on Contra Advance's "Exclusive" stages which were taken directly from Contra Hard Corps. It is kinda strange to see a Darius game without Great Thing, which is a requirement on a Darius game, well i could say Darius Force / Super Nova didn't had Great Thing, but it had Great Force which is a successor. I say this 'cos thinking on a Darius game without Great Thing is like thinking Mario Bros. without Bowser or The Legend of Zelda without Princess Zelda.
In the sound department, the soundtrack is nowhere near the arcade accuracy, because most of the tracks consists of themes from Darius Gaiden (VISSIONERZ, FAKE and SELF) and Darius II, Zone A uses a different stage theme from Darius, King Fossil has the theme Adam from G-Darius, and Green Coronatus uses the Darius Zone A theme, but on the other side the compositions are quite good, the Darius Gaiden renditions only needed the "Close your eyes... close your head" and the vocals to be perfect.
Rather than a remake or an "enhanced" port of the original Darius, Darius R is more like a light and remixed version of the classic game, while most oldschoolers might prefere to ignore it and play the original Darius, it's still being a good game for spend the weekend.
Final Score: 8.5/10
Ready to Shmuppin' again... No Guts No Glory!