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 Post subject: Darius Gaiden: Silver Hawk (Arcade - PC - Saturn - PS - PS2)
PostPosted: Mon Feb 17, 2020 10:26 pm 

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Joined: 11 Oct 2008
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Location: Autobot City, Sugiura Base
More Darius reviews, this time is my arcade favorite entry of the series. Darius Gaiden: Silver Hawk.

Tunnels, tunnels, tunnels. In space rush hours, don't honk. Shoot!

The Darius series hits the arcade for the third time with this game, unlike its 3 screened predecessors, this game relies in one screen. Anyway, this is much better since you can focus better on the action, despite how revolutionary and innovating the triple screen was. Unlike Darius Twin and Darius Force (Super Nova), the game goes back to the traditional shield and power up structure of the arcade, but this time it requires less items to fully level up, with the missiles only needing 3 power ups and the shield only 5. While the shots no longer need a status bar, as they drop you down a few levels if you lose a life, which i consider a rebalance of the "Keep the power ups after dying" from Darius Twin which made most of the game too easy, adding challenge to the game.
This game also introduces a new feature: The Black Hole, which is the smart bomb of this game that grants you temporary invincibility as it deploys, causing damages to everyone on screen. This feature is also a score mechanic at the end of the game since the game counts how Black Holes you have left before finishing the game, adding bonus points to the final score, along with your remaining Silver Hawks.

Isn't great to have your enemies by your side at least for a while?

Along with the Black Hole bomb, another new feature in the series is the introduction of the "Capture" which allows you to take control of the Captain until it self destructs. To do this you have to shoot the sphere they have attached without destroying the enemy, if you do it right, it will detach and once your ship picks the sphere and your former enemy will fight for you for a while.

With those features on your side, we can only expect one thing: More aggressive enemies, and that's what this game will throw at us, fast firing enemies which will even utilize bullet hells to stop you. Although you have a quite average rapid fire, you can increase it by tapping the fire button fast, and boy, this game relies on doing this fast tapping, sore thumb, hand injury thing. But to quote Crueltear from the XBLA port of Triggerheart Exelica: "This may hurt a bit...". That quote makes sense because Darius Gaiden's fast tapping will be more intense than Blazing Star, and i say this as a 20 year "Veteran" of said game, every time i play Darius Gaiden i end up with my right hand hurt.

One last thing to notice is the return of the traditional level branching that we all know and love, and i think returning to this is for the best. If something already works well, there's no need to change it. Someone will say "Darius Twin and Super Nova made those changes due to the console limitations", well that's no excuse if we take a look at Darius Plus on the Turbografx-16, which kept the whole arcade branching. If a "weaker" console like the Turbografx/PC Engine could make an arcade faithful structuring, why those two SNES Darius games didn't?

As part of Taito Legends 2, the game allows you to adjust the difficulty and lives based on the arcade hardware, unlike the Saturn, PC and PlayStation versions where you can add cheats like the Abnormal Mode or faster autofire, still you have other points in favor: You can deposit all the credits you want, unlike the home ports which gave you like 3 credits to survive, and unlike the console ports, there's no loading times before starting the game, except for the game loading after selecting it on the menu, becoming in the defnitive home version of the game.

Making the shift from 2D to 3D, one Golden Ogre at a time.

Graphically, the game makes a transition between 2D to 3D as the background combines 2.5D perspective surfaces and even ceilings, combined with 3D structures in some of the stages like the destructible walls in Zone K. Zoom-ins and Zoom-outs are used in the game as we start the game with a large, digitized Silver Hawk that shrinks becoming the playable 2D sprite, dive and emerge from oceans and even making atmospheric entries on planets. With a game that combines 2D with 3D we have CGI enemimes, Golden Ogre is one of them as we have this combination of 3D segments that form the boss. Combine all of these with a larger color palette and we have a live, vibrant universe that adds realism and visual wonder at the same time.

The music of Darius Gaiden is just an incredible auditive experience, as the game delivers a "New Age" like experience that evokes the styles of Enigma and Robert Miles. The words "Close your eyes / Close your head" are a key lyric in the whole soundtrack, as we hear these words in most of the songs of the game. Sometimes the sounds heard in the soundtrack make some coordination with the game's action, for instance when Fatty Glutton appears and the song "FAKE" plays a metallic hissing at the 7th second of the song you'll see Glutton's skin covering its metallic skeleton at the same time. Even the boss alarm is vocal-esque, breaking with the classic wailing sound that everyone is familiar with.
The PS2 Taito Legends 2 port is arcade faithful in the audio experience this game, because unlike the CD ports, it doesn't mute between levels. Also, the Saturn version sound effects are slightly different from those of the arcade. The only small complaint about the game is that the vocal-chillout music in the final stage takes like a minute to start, making the first minute of the game quite boring due to the music-less action.

- This game was originally announced as Darius III in North America, unlike the other Darius III that became Metal Black (Gun Frontier 2).
- There is an "Official Hack" known as Darius Gaiden: Silver Hawk - Extra Version that rearranges the order of stages and enables automatic auto-fire, two new bomb and shot power levels and an All-stage mode which can be accessed by starting the game as Player 2.
- First Darius game where a "Bomb"
(the Black Hole) was introduced to the series.
- First time in the series where the enemy can be captured.
- Some of the songs of Darius Gaiden were included in Darius R, along with those of G-Darius.
- The heartbeat heard during the fight with Prickly Angler might imply that Belser's machines are living things. Also, its forms are based of the stages of a Yellow Goosefish's larvae, from hatchling to maturity.
- The songs "Freedom", "Textures" and "Enjoy" from Robert Miles album 23AM shares similarities and influences with the music of Darius Gaiden. Specially "Enjoy" which feels like a spiritual successor of VISIONNERZ (Zone A).

- ¿How is it possible that a battle in Darius' core could make the whole planet explode in a Death Star cliché?, Considering that the battle takes place between the Core-Mantle Boundary, anything that goes down the CMB it will melt and disintegrate (missiles) with the exception of Curious Chandelier who's capable of submerge in the 2,730–4,230 °C molten iron core.
- Also, the radius of Earth's core is of 3483 km, If Darius' core is the same size, then the damages would be minimal or even unnoticeable
(i guess, since i'm not a geologist to know for sure), considering that the mantle's ceiling is hardened rock to the heat and pressure.

In the end, we have an incredible audiovisual experience that will delight us with fascinating music and great visuals, even if that means injuring our fingers by relying on rapid fire. Still, Darius Gaiden: Silver Hawk is a must play and must have for any shmupper and Darius fans alike.
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Bringing you shmup reviews with humorous criticism.

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