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 Post subject: Darius / Darius Plus / Super Darius (Arcade - TG16 - TGCD)
PostPosted: Sun Feb 23, 2020 7:46 am 

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Joined: 11 Oct 2008
Posts: 267
Location: Autobot City, Sugiura Base
Darius is basically more than a shmup, is an institution for arcade veterans and Taito shmuppers alike.

The power up system mechanic works like this: 8 items of the same color will maximize a specific power level: Red is your "Missile" (Shot), Green is Bomb and Blue is Arm (Shield). Survival is the main priority of this game as the weapon switching requires too much power ups (Missile to Laser for example) and dying resets your power bar to nothing. So, it would be extremely easy to be overwhelmed by the enemy forces if you commit a single mistake. Also, if your friend wants to join the game it's VERY convenient he joins at the same time as you, otherwise he/she will be in a power level disadvantage as Player 2 starts with the minimal firepower.
Darius' most important feature is the Level Branching, which works like this: After destroying the stage boss, the path will split in two and that's where do you have to decide if you either want to go up or down, that would indicate if you're going to Zone B or C after clearing Zone A.

Dying in this game is as tough as dying in an R-Type game since it takes you back to a checkpoint. The only way to avoid that was to play with Player 2 on your side so you can respawn immediately. If you've lost your lives you can continue with the power level you've died (dying with the Laser and the Super Arm) giving you a slight chance to stand up against Belser's forces.

Graphically, Taito decided to bring something revolutionary with Darius by making this the first shmup that uses 3 screens simultaneously to create one gigantic screen, resulting in a massive visual experience that was the surprising factor on any arcade this game was placed because really, ┬┐Who needs to play Time Pilot on a single screen when do you have a triple screen behemoth waiting for your challenge?.
Another new feature was the decision of using mechanical sea creatures as bosses in the game, something that became the trademark of the series for the upcoming years and sequels to come.

The music of Darius can be described like "Experimental", since its not rock or techno, and is more like a trippy outer spacey series of beats, claps and fanfares that brings an otherworldly feeling to the game, resulting in something new for a shmup.

Darius was ported faithfully in the TurboGrafx-16 as Darius Plus and the TurboGrafx CD as Super Darius. Darius Plus Super Darius

The gameplay of Super Darius and Darius Plus is the same as the original arcade: Your horizontal shoot-em up where things are bigger than usual based on the triple screened arcade hit. Unfortunately, the game was butchered to a single player only, but it still retains the arcade fun of flying and smash the mechanical sea creatures.
One of the main changes in both ports was the order of enemies, including new faces like the unused Big Rajarnn and even Driosawm and Hyper Sting from Darius II, there's also original bosses specially made for the TurboGrafx like Mystic Power and Tough Spring. But eliminates Great Thing and Strong Shell from the list. Darius Plus removed some of the endings and replaced them with "repeated" ones: Zones V & W have the "City Flyover", Zone X has the Silver Hawks returning to the mothership, and Zones Y & Z has Proco & Tiat looking the sunset. In Super Darius, all the endings are back, except for Zone Y which replaces the "It was just a game" ending with an original one where Proco and Tiat merge their Silver Hawks into a phoenix-like bird and destroy a base/core.

At first Darius Plus looks like it lacks of continues since it sends you to the name entry screen after getting Game Over, but the game actually has a continue code. By pressing Select at the title screen will send you back where you were killed, but there's one inconvenient: It will reset your weapons down to their default levels. Your hardly obtained Wave and Hyper arm will go back to the weaker Missile and regular Arm, making the game more difficult that expected (Try to defeat Cuttle Fish in Zone Z with a Level 3 Missile shot) and it will only convince you that things will be much easier if you start all the way back from the beginning.

While Darius Plus has a continue code. In Super Darius, it was removed just like in Darius Alpha, making things tougher than the expected. Yet, there's new codes included in the TurboGrafx CD version, but they doesn't help much. One of the cheat codes is a difficulty select code by holding Select and pushing Run on Controller 1, which is still useful for those who are new to the game, and the Boss Rush Mode unlocked by holding Down+Select on Controller 1 and Up+Run+I on Controller 2, and pushing Run on Controller 1. Boss Rush is very similar to Darius Alpha as it focuses on Boss Battles. But the Super Darius version pits you with all the 26 bosses from A to Z becoming the ultimate challenge and a more complete boss rush than Darius Alpha.

In graphics, its basically the same as the TurboGrafx-16 and TurboGrafx CD ports are virtually identical, as the game brings us the same large sprites like the original arcade in a very faithful recreation of the original arcade version. However, this feature of the TurboGrafx-16 and TurboGrafx CD is not excent of flaws: First, NEC Avenue forgot they were porting a game that uses 3 screens and large sprites into a single screen game, resulting in bosses that occupy a lot of space in some cases, resulting in small rooms for error during their battles (My Home Daddy, Octopus and Great Thing are good examples) and second is the way too bright color palette which only results in eye-harmful sprites.

The sound department varies in Darius Plus and Super Darius. In Darius Plus, the soundtrack sounds like something in-between the 8 and 16 bit sound card due to the pitched "notes" in the entire soundtrack, but it still makes an effort of replicating the arcade music despite the console limitations, same the sound effects like the ship's bullets, bomb dropping and even the "Wail-Howl" sound of a dying boss.
On the other side, Super Darius doesn't have to worry about sound limitations. While most CD based consoles threw away the original arcade music in favor of CD arrangements (Raiden Trad on the FM Towns Marty for example), Super Darius does the opposite of that: Using the original arcade soundtrack and all of its sound effects, becoming arcade faithful on the sound department. All of the original spaced-upbeat otherworldly music is there. A wise move from NEC if you ask me: Bringing the original arcade soundtrack as it should be.

- Mystic Power and Tough Spring will make an appearance in Darius R.
- Iron Hammer makes a return in Super Darius II as a "Captain" in Zone S.
- The Darius series made popular the quote "A Huge Battleship is Approaching Fast", which was parodied in other games like Aero Fighters 3.
- The Silver Hawk used in the game is the model 3F-1B. In Dariusburst continuity is known as "Silver Hawk Origin".
- Don't confuse Taito's Silver Hawks with Rankin-Bass' SilverHawks which were also released in 1986 :P .

Too bad Super Darius wasn't included in the Cozmic Collection (i known must of you will say "Why to include it if we have the genuine arcade game already?") because its still a piece of history of the franchise since it's a great attempt of bringing arcade quality on a hardware limited console like the CD Engine/TurboGrafx CD, resulting in a must play for hardcore Darius fans. Still we have the original Arcade port for those who are looking for the genuine arcade shooter.
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