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 Post subject: ST: Darius II
PostPosted: Fri Jan 10, 2014 1:32 pm 


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Joined: 19 Jul 2008
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Location: Tokyo
ST: Darius II


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This guide is a compilation of the notes I took during my efforts to 1cc Darius II. The goal of this guide is to assist new players in securing their first 1cc in this very difficult game. As such it will not feature scoring tips. I will not be giving a word by word guide of everything you face in the game, rather I will focus on points that I personally found tricky and how to deal with them. Currently it only covers one course, but more stage survival strategies may be added in the future.

This guide is primarily based on the 2-screen PCB. However I also spent a lot of time practicing in the Saturn version. Though very similar, these versions are not identical and occasionally require a different approach. I will try to make notes on the differences where applicable.

If you wish to use any part of this guide on another website please PM me first and credit me as the author. This guide is made free to all potential Silverhawk pilots and may not be sold.

Finally, suggestions, corrections, and discussion are very welcome, feel free to post anything you want in this thread.


Part One: Darius II System Guide


I will be playing on MAME Darius II 2 screen Japan Rev. 2. I suggest using MAME’s default auto-fire rate as anything higher will make crowd control difficult due to the shot limit. All settings are on default; easy mode is for suckers.


General Information:


The game features two buttons: shot and bomb. The bombs work like the missiles in Gradius and are unlimited. After collecting your first gold powerup you will also have lasers at your disposal which fire along with the main shot.

There are also screen clearing bombs scattered throughout the stage that are activated by shooting their expose cores. I will refer to them as nukes from now on to avoid confusion. The blast shields on the cores open and close so you must use good timing and precision to activate them, but their effects are often devastating.


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Spoiler Alert: Proco dies of cancer at the end


Through the course of the game you will encounter 5 different types of powerups along with 1-up medals that can be collected. They spawn when you kill a full set of gray UFO-looking enemies. Red medals upgrade your main shot, green upgrades your bombs, gold upgrades your lasers, and blue upgrades/refills your shield. Powerups are distributed in such a way that you gradually become more powerful throughout the course of the entire game. You won’t max out until the very very end.

This is very important, because infuriatingly if you get killed you lose all of your powerups. Because of the way they are distributed this means you are effectively crippled for the rest of the game, and generally your run is ruined. After you die there is a possibility that the fifth powerup will show up. It looks like a glowing orb and will give you ship multiple upgrades at the same time in order to aid with recovery. However they are rare, and generally not helpful enough to save a run because the stages are clearly designed around the assumption that your ship has all of its powerups intact. Darius II is not a case of difficult recovery it is a case of impossible recovery, so it’s best to view this as a game where you only have a single life. The survival guide is written under the assumption you have all of your powerups intact; if you die you are on your own.

Scoring in Darius II appears to be fairly simplistic: kill stuff, get points. Enemies come in groups usually. If you kill every enemy in a group you get a score bonus. This, combined with following a high scoring course is the primary way to get big digits. There are score based extends, however as mentioned you are generally fucked once you die and lose your powerups so they aren’t important.


Weapons:


Main Shot

The amount of shots allowed on screen at one time is limited, so as you move farther backwards the gap between your shots will become much more pronounced and can get you killed. In order to kill enemies quickly it is best to stay at least as far forward as the center of the playfield as much as possible. Try to get in somewhat close to meaty enemies in order to deal damage quickly.


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Stage 1: Pea shooter


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Stage 2: Dual pea shooter


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Stage 3: Uber pea shooter; same as stage 2, but with meatier more damaging shots


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Stage 4: Spreadshot; stage 3 shot in the center, with a single stream of upward angled shots, and a single stream of downward
angled shots.



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Stage 5: Increased spread; angled shots are now double streams


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Stage 6: Power spread; same as stage 5 except the center stream is replaced with powerful, huge blue blasts


Bombs

The reach of your bombs can be increased by quickly moving your ship back and forth. Basically you are using the inertia of your ship’s movement to sling the bombs a little farther. This is very important for safely and quickly dealing with a lot of the ground based enemies in the game, so take advantage of it.


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Stage 1: Single; down-forward angled bomb


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Stage 2: Double; down-forward and down-backward angled bombs


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Stage 3: Double +; bigger and I assume more damaging


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Stage 4: Sliding; double bombs that slide forward until they hit an obstacle


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Stage 5: Rolling; double bombs that roll forward and over obstacles


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Stage 6: Rolling +; rolling bombs plus dual vertical bombs


Lasers

Effectively utilizing your lasers is one of the biggest keys to surviving the stages in Darius II. Use their angle to help deal with enemies not directly in your line of fire, such as ground and ceiling based enemies. The lasers also pierce the landscape allowing you to kill otherwise protected enemies.


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Stage 1: Vertical; double lasers shooting up and down at a right angle


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Stage 2: Angled; double lasers angled up-forward and down-forward


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Stage 3: Quad; four lasers angled up-forward, down-forward, up-back, and down-back


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Stage 4: Multi; combination of quad and vertical lasers


Shields

As you collect more shields the color changes, however I'm not sure what difference, if any, there is between them. A fresh shield can take 3 hits regardless of the color. When you pick up a shield power up it will either power your shield up to 3 hits, OR it will stack. So for example, if your current shield has one or two hits left, picking up an icon will power it back to 3 hits. But if it's already 3 or more a new shield adds 1 hit to the stack. There doesn't appear to be a limit to how many hits can be stacked. Therefore, it is best to view the shields as a constant stream of extends rather than a refillable health bar (as it is in later games). If you get hit in stage one, you have effectively lost a life from the total pool of lives you have to complete the game; it isn't simply refilled as you pick up new powerups. Any hit you take in this game should be considered a major error.


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Stage 1: Green


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Stage 2: White


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Stage 3: Gold


General Strategy:


The general strategy for survival play is fairly simple. Most of the time you can fire both your bombs and main shot constantly, although there are specific times where you may want to stop shooting one or the other or both. Your ‘neutral’ position should usually be around the center of the playfield. Darius II is definitely an offensive game, rather than a game that focuses on precision dodging. Your hit box is quite large, so you want to kill things quickly before you get overwhelmed with more bullets than your bulky ship can dodge. Especially try to quickly destroy mounted turrets as soon as you possibly can using your lasers and bombs to avoid difficult situations. Also take advantage of the landscape to shield yourself from incoming shots.
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Last edited by ACSeraph on Thu Dec 17, 2015 5:41 am, edited 3 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: ST: Darius II - WIP: PLEASE DO NOT MAKE POSTS
PostPosted: Fri Jan 10, 2014 1:32 pm 


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Part Two: Darius II Survival Guide


We will be using the following course for the duration of this guide: ABDGLQV. This is the course that I personally found to be the easiest, but your mileage may vary.


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Warning: A huge challenge is approaching fast! Darius II is not a game for undedicated or the easily enraged. There are many things in the game that are just impossible to deal with without a good amount of practice, and the totally unfair loss of your powerups at death will not sit well with many players. Remember though, this game CAN be beaten consistently without dying, as long as you have a solid plan and experience. Think you’ve got the patience and dedication to take on this beast of a game? Good, then let’s go fishing.

I always wanted a thing called…


Stage 1-A: The Sun


This stage is pretty tame until the final push, just kill things and collect powerups while avoiding the fireballs. The exploding pillars of fire will not hurt you, so feel free to fly right through them. When the midboss (King Fossil!) shows up shoot him when he opens his mouth and move between his shots while making sure not to get hit by the jumping fish.

After a bit you will get to the final section of the stage where you have lots of fireballs and jumping fish attacking you. The fish will jump and then fire a single aimed shot at you. A line of UFOs carrying a shield will also come from the bottom of the screen and fly up. It’s best to stay near the top of the screen in this section due to the fireballs, so you want to wait for the UFOs to fly up before you kill them. I recommend not using your bombs until after you grab the shield. Then go to the top and move forward using your lasers to kill the fish before they can jump and fire at you.


Boss 1-A: Hyper Sting


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Very, very easy boss. Line up with his mouth and keep shooting, then fly up to avoid the shots. Repeat to kill him. Fly all the way forward and the boss will attack you from the other side this time. Your ship will automatically turn around to face him. Remember this for future boss fights. Either use the nuke to kill it instantly or repeat the same strategy as before. If you have trouble here, please place the disc back in its case and go play a Cave novice mode or something, because Darius II is not for you. From stage 2 on, shit is about to get real.
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Last edited by ACSeraph on Tue Mar 11, 2014 6:48 am, edited 3 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: ST: Darius II - WIP: PLEASE DO NOT MAKE POSTS
PostPosted: Fri Jan 10, 2014 1:33 pm 


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Stage 2-B: Mercury


At the start use your bombs to kill the turrets on the ground and just shoot the airborne enemies as normal. Use the back and forth method to give your bombs a wider range and spread. You should do this pretty much any time you are actively attacking ground based enemies to maximize your chances or hitting your targets. You will eventually see a nuke behind a rock. You can set it off by using your lasers, but don’t do it right away, instead wait until it’s about to leave the playfield to blow it in order to deal some damage to the incoming midboss.


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From this point on the difficulty ramps considerably. Shoot the midboss in the face to damage it as much as you can before entering the cave. After entering the cave shift your concentration away from the boss and try to deal with all of the ground and ceiling based turrets while avoiding the boss’ shots. For the first part of the cave, use your main shot to shoot down the ceiling turrets while dodging the midboss’ shots, then move to the bottom. The boss will attempt to ram you so fly under it and kill the UFOs and ground turret with you main shot.

After this there will be a rock on the ground with a blue missile tank behind it. It will quickly fire two missiles at a 45 degree angle, wait a second, and fire a third. Unlike other missiles they cannot be destroyed with your main shot, and when they line up with your ship they will change to a horizontal trajectory flying straight at you. This makes the blue tanks tricky and dangerous. Luckily the rock I mentioned will protect you. Position yourself behind the rock and wait for the tank to fire three missiles, then fly over the rock and use your bombs to kill it. Immediately after this you have the boss, a ceiling turret, and a ground turret all unloading on you at once making for a hairy situation. Do your best to dodge and focus on killing the ground turret with your bombs and then the ceiling turret with your laser. If the boss hasn’t died yet it will exit the screen and leave you alone. Congratulations, you have survived Darius II’s first major difficulty spike!


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Continue through the cave focusing on the turrets and collect the shield. Once you exit the cave there will be another blue missile tank. For this one quickly fly straight over it and blast it with your lasers to avoid its missiles.


Boss 2-B: Alloy Lantern


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Start off by shooting off the tip of his antenna. He opens his mouth to shoot a straight line of bullets. Shoot him in the mouth and fly up to avoid the bullets, same as you did for Hyper Sting. After he dies you will enter his stomach and begin phase two.

A pufferfish surrounded by orbs will now attack. You want to hit him in the eyes to damage him. If you stay lined up with his face you will be able to easily pass through his shots. Move backwards horizontally to destroy the missiles he fires at you while simultaneously dodging his shots.


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After he spreads out the orbs, fly under him and quickly shoot the mine with your laser then immediately back up and start shooting him in the face again. Be mindful of the blue lasers he shoots from his mouth as you keep shooting him, and he will die quickly.


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Last edited by ACSeraph on Fri Jan 10, 2014 1:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: ST: Darius II - WIP: PLEASE DO NOT MAKE POSTS
PostPosted: Fri Jan 10, 2014 1:33 pm 


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Stage 3-D: Venus


This stage’s main obstacles are mines that fire suicide spreads at you when shot. There are times when you want to make sure to shoot all of them, and other times where you want to stop firing altogether, so be prepared for that.

The beginning of the stage is fairly relaxed, just keep shooting until you have killed the two rings of enemies that eventually appear. After killing the rings stop shooting entirely and move to the bottom edge of the screen in the center. Mines will start flying past you overhead, and a formation of horizontal missile firing enemies will deploy in front of you. Move up ever so slightly to fly between the first volley of missiles, then when you see that you are clear of the mine field fire away. Two sets of UFOs will come from behind you each carrying a powerup. Be careful not to kill them when they are too close to the back edge of the screen, or else you will lose your powerups.


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From here on out take advantage of your handy new spreadshot to shoot down any mines you see. The goal is to destroy them quickly, as their suicide bullets are far more dangerous when they are close to you. The midboss (Fatty Glutton!) will show up, but doesn’t put up much of a fight, just shoot him in the mouth till he dies. Proceed normally until you face two more enemy rings like you fought at the beginning of the stage. After shooting them down once again cease firing completely and move to the center bottom edge of the screen. The mine field and enemies will pass harmlessly over you; just sit tight until you are clear. Then two vertical formations of ships will spawn from behind. Fly between them to avoid their red lasers, and be careful to shoot down their missiles. After this the boss will show up.


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Boss 3-D: Driosawm


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Luckily for you, this is a very easy boss. First he will lunge at you and fire missiles. Avoid him and shoot them down. He will begin snaking around the screen firing easily avoidable bullets from his tail. Eventually he will stop, and lunge at you again, make sure there is enough distance between you to dodge. Keep shooting and he will go down easily.
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Last edited by ACSeraph on Fri Jan 10, 2014 1:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: ST: Darius II - WIP: PLEASE DO NOT MAKE POSTS
PostPosted: Fri Jan 10, 2014 1:33 pm 


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Stage 4-G: The Moon


On the ground in this stage you will see stationary red missile launchers and orbs that fire suicide spreads when destroyed. The red missile launchers function like the blue tanks, and similarly their missiles cannot be shot down, so prioritize killing them before they have a chance to fire. Use your angled lasers to deal with the ground and ceiling based enemies. You will also occasionally encounter camouflaged missile launchers that look like rocks, but their missiles can be shot down making them less dangerous.

Shoot your way through the floating shields at the start, and then use your lasers to destroy the lightening wall generators at the entrance of the cave. Fly over the first set of shields, then stay near the bottom of the cave and chill until you pass through the shield formations.

Fly up and forward over the rock formations and use your laser to blast the orb. The rock will protect you from its suicide bullets. Immediately pull all the way back and kill the blue enemy that spawns then move forward and use your laser to blast the camouflaged missile launcher. After this the path splits. Take the top path. Under you are two nukes that can be destroyed with your lasers. Ignore the first nuke and wait for the second to expose its core. Wait until the last second to blow it and fly forward to grab the powerup before the midboss shows up. In the Saturn version, the mine will have blown all of the squid’s limbs off rendering it relatively harmless. But in the arcade version you will need to dance with him for a bit.


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This fight is pretty much a straight up test of your bullet dodging ability. There’s no trick to it, just keep shooting and concentrate on flying between the gaps of his spread shot. Also beware of the horizontal laser he fires. Eventually you will blow off his limbs making him harmless, and he will die shortly after.

Proceed as usual out of the cave and prepare for the next boss.


Boss 4-G: Red Crab


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When he first runs in stick close to him and shoot off all the limbs on his left side. He will jump and then fire a few shots. After it’s clear fly over him to the other side and blow off the right set of limbs. At this point he will only have his two legs remaining. WAIT to destroy them. Move to the far edge of either side of the playfield and wait for him to rush at you. When he does quickly fly over him and blow off his leg. He should now be immobilized and trapped at the far edge of the screen. Fly to the opposite end and keep shooting while dodging his bullets. The distance between you should give you plenty of space to dodge effectively until he dies.


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Last edited by ACSeraph on Fri Jan 10, 2014 2:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 10, 2014 1:34 pm 


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Stage 5-L: Earth


Things are getting more intense, so hold on tight.

The main obstacles of this stage are laser satellites and ground based turrets with a wide spread. Your focus should be on killing these enemies quickly and safely. This is generally done with your laser, since they are often positioned behind obstacles. The angle of your laser is slightly wider than that of the satellites, so while you will be uncomfortably close to their lasers, you should kill them before you get hit.

Keep this in mind as you proceed until you see a turtle trapped in ice in the background. He will break out, at which point you want to be point blanking him in the face. He will move back and fire missiles at you along with a spread. Don’t worry about shooting him as you micro dodge through the spread while moving backwards slowly to deal with the missiles. Repeat this process for the second volley, then shoot the mine that appears to deliver the coup de grace. A dangerous situation immediately follows him, so don’t relax yet.

Move forward and use your lasers to destroy the ceiling turret. A hill will be in front of you, immediately fly over it and then to the bottom of the screen in order to kill the blue missile tank and ground turret before they have a chance to shoot at you. You aren’t safe though, the zako above you will fire aimed shots, so tap dodge horizontally to avoid them. When it’s clear fly up and proceed as normal to the boss.


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Boss 5-L: Leansaid


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This time you are fighting a sea urchin. It’s a pretty interesting fight with three different stages.

The boss will descend from above. Use this time to point blank and destroy his arms (sea urchins have arms?) on the left side. You will notice spines protruding from the boss, they fire out in a straight line at regular intervals, so take care to dodge them as you destroy the remaining arms. If the arms suddenly retract is means the boss is about to reach out at you with them, so make a wide dodge vertically to avoid them.

Once the arms are destroyed the outer shell of the sea urchin will split in two. The top half will go up and the bottom will go down, then they will follow your ship horizontally. Eventually they will stop and smash together. If it hits you you are dead, so keep moving horizontally to avoid it. During this process the spines will continue to fire, along with regular bullets. Luckily the gaps are wide allowing for relatively safe dodging. Keep shooting the gooey center until it proceeds to phase three.

In the third phase it will be just you and the core, no shell or spines this time. It will fire a horizontal laser and aimed shots. It will also eventually try to strike you directly with a long tentacle. The key is to keep moving vertically while dodging the bullets so you can avoid being hit by the tentacle. Focus, keep moving and dodging, and then laugh when it finally explodes and the pilot falls out to his icy death.
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Last edited by ACSeraph on Fri Jan 10, 2014 2:05 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: ST: Darius II - WIP: PLEASE DO NOT MAKE POSTS
PostPosted: Fri Jan 10, 2014 1:34 pm 


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Stage 6-Q: Mars


The stage is mostly standard fare this time, as always shoot everything and use your lasers to deal with ground based enemies. Watch out as you pass through those things that look like the eggs from Aliens, as they will shoot missiles at you occasionally. After passing the second set of Alien eggs, you will see UFOs spawn on the bottom edge of the screen. Be careful here as they carry a shield, and if you kill them in a bad position the shield will fall off the screen and out of your grasp. It’s best to wait for them to circle back around before firing.

Unfortunately for you, in the midst of this situation the midboss will appear and spew out a whole mess of aimed shots as you. If you aren’t positioned properly before he shows up you will get hit. When the UFOs spawn stop firing and move to the top edge of the screen the boss will show and blow his load, so tap dodge downwards to avoid the initially volley. Start firing and make sure to get the shield. Once you destroy the midboss’ arms he becomes less dangerous and will begin shooting wave shots at you. Dodge them vertically until you kill him. Proceed as normal to the boss.


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Boss 6-Q: Grand Octopus


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This is probably the most difficult boss you will face in this course so steel your nerves.

Initially the boss will move forward constantly firing aimed shots at you from its tentacles. It won’t leave you with much breathing room, so eventually you will want to fly over him to the other side. He will follow you forcing you to move back over while dodging. Hopefully you will kill the top tentacle before moving back over and avoid taking damage. After this the bottom tentacles are mostly harmless. Fly over them and destroy them with your lasers to enter phase two.

The octopus’ head will open up and a group of octopi will fly out. The will fly in your direction, then fire and fly off screen. You MUST herd them to survive. Once you destroy the tentacles, fly to the top and wait for the octopi to fly at you. Then circle under them to avoid their shots and back up to the top. The boss unleashes new waves quickly so you will pretty much be constantly moving in a circle. Devote all your concentration to herding the octopi and just keep firing. You will eventually kill the boss just from the few shots you get in by circling him.


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Last edited by ACSeraph on Fri Jan 10, 2014 2:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 10, 2014 1:34 pm 


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Stage 7-V: Jupiter


We have finally made it to Jupiter and the game is ready to kick things up to a whole new level of intensity. This stage is constant combat and precision dodging. You will fight two midbosses: the Iron Fossil from the Sun and the little octopus from Mars. However they are both a lot harder than before and assisted by various obstacles.

At the beginning move to the back of the screen and line up in the center. Then just sit tight to kill all the blue enemies that spawn in front of you. After the second set that are right in your face move forward a bit to avoid to zako coming from behind.

Iron Fossil will show up to take his revenge. He fires the same spread pattern as before, but this time he fires twice rapidly rather than once, and also more often. He keeps moving around the screen quickly and there will also be floating shields and random zako to contend with making it a pretty frantic fight. Mostly it’s a matter of concentration and aggression; try to follow him around round the screen and keep your shots lined up with his mouth as much as possible. If you tap dodge up after he fires and sit still, both the first and second spread will miss you. Do your best to stay on him and kill him. Avoid getting into a situation where all you can concentrate on is dodging without actively attacking him.

Near the end of the fight or possibly after you’ve killed him UFOs will spawn from behind. MAKE SURE you let them fly forward before you kill them in order to collect the shield they drop. Keep proceeding and the little octopus from Mars will attack you. The strategy is the same as before: herd the bullets with vertical tap dodging until you destroy the arms, then just be wary of the wave shots as you finish him off. You have more room to dodge here than you did in the Mars stage so things are slightly easier. Continue onwards and prepare for the final battle.


Final Boss 7-V: Bio Strong


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Time for an abortion.

Compared to what you have faced up to this point Bio Strong isn’t very hard. It’s also very possible to pull a victory even after dying here, so don’t worry too much if you happen to get killed and lose your powerups.

Basically there are a ton of blue eggs with fetuses inside in front of you because Japan. One of them is Bio Strong; you’ll know it’s him because he will turn fucking huge. When he does this, fly up to the top edge and he will shrink. Staying along the top edge try to keep yourself aligned horizontally with the boss. Golden eggs will appear and fire off spread shots, but from this position they won’t hit you. After they are gone fly back down and shoot for a bit until he gets big again and repeat the process. If for some reason you are killed and powered down I suggest never leaving the top edge of the screen. Just stay there and use your bombs to attack him when you don’t need to be aligned to avoid the golden eggs. Eventually he will die.


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Congratulations! You have saved the universe from... an unwanted pregnancy? Whatever! Go grab a beer and enjoy the credits 8)


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 Post subject: Re: ST: Darius II
PostPosted: Fri Jan 10, 2014 3:11 pm 


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:shock:

Wow, that's an impressive effort, man.
Thanks for dedicating so much love to this game!
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 Post subject: Re: ST: Darius II
PostPosted: Sat Jan 11, 2014 2:41 am 


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Thanks man! I just hope some people put it to use and get into this game. I don't have high hopes though, given it's age. This was mostly a personal project, a labor of Darius Love.
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 Post subject: Re: ST: Darius II
PostPosted: Sat Jan 11, 2014 4:04 am 


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Were you playing on the two-screen variant of Darius II? It's the same as three-screen, but with less of the level physically shown (ie, a lot harder!).
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 Post subject: Re: ST: Darius II
PostPosted: Sat Jan 11, 2014 4:13 am 


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The "original" release is the 2-screen game. The 3-screen one was developed for Darius cabinet owners because Taito didn't want them to feel shammed :lol:
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 Post subject: Re: ST: Darius II
PostPosted: Sat Jan 11, 2014 6:24 am 


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I haven't really played Darius 2 before, but I'm totally hyped for it only by looking at this beatiful guide. Thanks a lot for the effort! :D

Please do the other stages aswell!
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 Post subject: Re: ST: Darius II
PostPosted: Sat Jan 11, 2014 6:52 am 


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*Round of appreciaion*
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 Post subject: Re: ST: Darius II
PostPosted: Sun Jan 12, 2014 6:34 am 


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Thanks for the support guys!

EmperorIng wrote:
Were you playing on the two-screen variant of Darius II? It's the same as three-screen, but with less of the level physically shown (ie, a lot harder!).


I've never actually seen the 3-screen version in arcades here, and I also originally intended to learn the game on the Saturn version which is based on the two screen. That's why I chose that version. But I'm not so sure it's harder than the 3 screen one. I played 3-screen in MAME a bit and was really thrown off by some of it's quirks, like for example the powerups float up instead of down, which can really fuck you up in the later stages where powerups are placed in bad positions making them difficult to pick up.
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 Post subject: Re: ST: Darius II
PostPosted: Wed Jan 28, 2015 8:08 am 


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ACSeraph wrote:
All settings are on default; easy mode is for suckers.

Difficulty A is the correct "normal" difficulty. Difficulty B was a last minute change, and not necessarily a good one.

ACSeraph wrote:
After you die there is a possibility that the fifth powerup will show up, though it is random. It looks like a glowing orb and will give you ship multiple upgrades at the same time in order to aid with recovery.

The so-called "gold" powerup (the laser powerup is "yellow") appears after dropping to one life remaining and then zero lives remaining, and replaces whatever the next powerup wave would have carried.

ACSeraph wrote:
Stage 6: Power spread; same as stage 5 except the center stream is replaced with powerful, huge blue blasts

There are more levels beyond this (at least two), which make the blue blast better and better.

Small tip: the blue blasts go through enemies if the blasts still have "energy" left.

ACSeraph wrote:
Stage 4: Multi; combination of quad and vertical lasers

Levels beyond this will cause the middle and front pairs to angle directly forward, which can actually cause trouble if you don't account for it.

ACSeraph wrote:
Boss 1-A: Hyper Sting

Use both pillbox bombs, as they give you a few points each; try not to get crushed by either Hyper Sting. As a general rule, activate every pillbox you can. It seems that later in the game (or is it rank-based?), pillboxes don't want to open if something's hitting them while they're closed.

ACSeraph wrote:
Boss 2-B: Alloy Lantern

Don't forget the pillbox!

ACSeraph wrote:
A pufferfish surrounded by orbs will now attack.

Steel Spine. In difficulty A, you'll have angled lasers by this point, so you can just hit the pillbox when it appears to knock out all of its orbs and its tail.

ACSeraph wrote:
Stage 3-D: Venus

A recurring enemy that you start seeing in this stage is the missile-like object that rushes onto the screen, stops, then splits into five to rush forward. If you're too close to it when it stops (or you rush up to it), it'll split into a different formation where some will vertically fly off the screen. Sometimes this formation is unavoidable, but it should still be possible to destroy all five of them if you're fast enough.

ACSeraph wrote:
Stage 4-G: The Moon
The red missile launchers function like the blue tanks, and similarly their missiles cannot be shot down, so prioritize killing them before they have a chance to fire.

Unlike the blue tanks, those missiles will slice right through your shield and kill you.

ACSeraph wrote:
You will fight two midbosses: the Iron Fossil from the Sun and the little octopus from Mars.

Fire King Fossil and Octopus (yes). Iron Fossil is the Dariusburst boss.

ACSeraph wrote:
Final Boss 7-V: Bio Strong

Compared to what you have faced up to this point Bio Strong isn’t very hard. It’s also very possible to pull a victory even after dying here, so don’t worry too much if you happen to get killed and lose your powerups.
[/quote]
Bio Strong is the silly easy final boss of Darius II, just like Octopus is in Darius.
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 Post subject: Re: ST: Darius II
PostPosted: Wed Jan 28, 2015 1:10 pm 


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What's your reasoning behind the difficulty A/B distinction? I'd love any excuse to make Darius II an easier game, but...
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 Post subject: Re: ST: Darius II
PostPosted: Wed Jan 28, 2015 1:21 pm 


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Yeah I just had to guess on a lot of the terminology at the time I wrote this. And for the powerup stuff, in the route I use it's impossible to powerup any further than what I have listed. Not sure about other course. You power up to max really quickly in easy mode though.

Regardless of whether A was originally intended to be the default setting, it's still easy mode, and the arcades here have the game set on difficulty B. My entire goal with this was an arcade clear, so I have no interest in A. I can see the argument for A being the more fair balanced game though, play whatever you enjoy most.
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 Post subject: Re: ST: Darius II
PostPosted: Wed Jan 28, 2015 4:45 pm 


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EmperorIng wrote:
What's your reasoning behind the difficulty A/B distinction? I'd love any excuse to make Darius II an easier game, but...

Taito mentioned it in an old Gamest. Some powerup waves simply not having powerups by default is pretty sketchy, and this actually breaks co-op because no route in the game has enough items for both players to reach max level. It also may not have been made for the "fast" autofire dip, as enemies have pretty reasonable HP for without and you have all those powerup waves that come from behind.
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 Post subject: Re: ST: Darius II
PostPosted: Thu Jan 29, 2015 1:41 am 


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What was their reasoning for suddenly changing it? The powerup scarcity in the Arcade difficulty is for sure some bullshit, the intro demo shows the ship fully powered, yet it's actually impossible to even power that high. Almost seems like false advertising. I'm guessing they just wanted to squeeze out more cash from players.
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 Post subject: Re: ST: Darius II
PostPosted: Thu Jan 29, 2015 9:42 pm 


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That's my guess. However, difficulty A feels kinda... well... easy (at least for a while) due to boss HP getting a cut and bullet patterns being seemingly calmed down a bit. Considering how brutal the game is to begin with, I'm not surprised it was supposed to be relatively chill. That's probably also why the game doesn't have a no miss bonus like Darius Extra does... they probably added it to the MD version because it's easier to recover in that game.

I'm sure the intro demo was made with difficulty A in mind! However, I think some routes let you powerup to max and some don't, like with Darius... I don't know how it all works. I also am starting to wonder if the way difficulty A was balanced suggests you're just supposed to tap and never use the autofire dipswitch, like with Hishozame and stuff. That doesn't stop me from wanting to quick kill Leadain, but hey.
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 Post subject: Re: ST: Darius II
PostPosted: Wed Dec 09, 2015 4:13 pm 


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Messing with this in MAME. Is it supposed to be making this godawful distortion through my speakers?
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 Post subject: Re: ST: Darius II
PostPosted: Wed Dec 09, 2015 4:24 pm 


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Do you mean those sizzling, rumbling noises during certain sections and boss fights? Those are intentional. Probably a lot better on the cabinet than on any other format I surmise.


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 Post subject: Re: ST: Darius II
PostPosted: Wed Dec 09, 2015 4:56 pm 


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They're supposed to be hooked up to bass shakers on the cabinet, you're not supposed to hear them. You can mute them by setting the volumes to both YM2610 Ch.0 channels to off, in MAME's slider control.
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 Post subject: Re: ST: Darius II
PostPosted: Wed Dec 09, 2015 6:51 pm 


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Cool, thanks guys!
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 Post subject: Re: ST: Darius II
PostPosted: Sun Feb 25, 2018 3:55 pm 


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"I always wanted a thing called...a 1-credit clear!"

Thanks for posting this guide - it helped get me across the finish line to a 1-credit clear. The little octopi from Grand Octopus fired off revenge bullets when he was finally dead, taking out my last shield, but I managed to butt-clench my way through the last zone.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T538AXWglzw
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 Post subject: Re: ST: Darius II
PostPosted: Mon Apr 26, 2021 2:36 pm 



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Thank you very much for that great guide ACSeraph, it definetely helped me a lot when I was discovering this brutal and punishing game. Now that I am more familiar with the game here as some remarks and editing I would suggest for your guide. Feel free to add them or to leave the guide as it is, as it is just my personnal take on the subject :wink:.

Quote:
I suggest using MAME’s default auto-fire rate as anything higher will make crowd control difficult due to the shot limit


A high rapidfire rate really helps against bosses, and on most stages. Though due to the on-screen shot-limit a high rapidfire frequency might be hurtfull at times, during the bosses and midbosses fight its usefullness is obvious . Fights become a matter of few seconds, sometimes a single second like with Green Coronatus, Red Crab, etc. Don’t even need to learn the bosses anymore. As with most Darius games 30hz is really broken and should be considered a separate category, it's even more the case here than it is with Darius Gaiden.

Here are some exemples :

https://youtu.be/E8Qh27GEi60?t=167

https://youtu.be/E8Qh27GEi60?t=249

https://youtu.be/E8Qh27GEi60?t=577

https://youtu.be/z3kcwdG6Ssc?t=700

With 30hz you can cheese basicaly any boss, even the Yamato isn't all that daunting if you still have some shield left. By the way do you know what are the rapidfire frequencies in the dipswitches of the AC version ?

Quote:
All settings are on default; easy mode is for suckers.


I much prefer the easy mode, thanks for calling me a sucker hahaha. In this case I would argue it’s not really an easy mode, it’s just the way developpers intented this game, whether we like it or not. The rest is up to personnal opinion, I can understand people who disregard easy modes in shmups though it's not an opinion I share. Also it should be added that rapidfire is not default, it’s in the dipswitches. The game does have a default autofire (meaning if you keep the buttons pressed it shoots) but the fire rate is too low to be of any real use, at least for missiles/main shot (some japanese superplayers use the default bomb autofire at times).

Quote:
Powerups are distributed in such a way that you gradually become more powerful throughout the course of the entire game. You won’t max out until the very very end.


This is not exactly correct : in B (AC normal) you won’t ever max out the missiles and the lasers, though you can with the bombs and shield. You can only reach the first level of power for the missiles with the big blue blasts, and you will never get the forward lasers. M2 port gadgets clearly show that you cannot reach full power.

Quote:
Stage 6: Power spread; same as stage 5 except the center stream is replaced with powerful, huge blue blasts


Also that huge ball blast can have piercing properties but I haven’t really understood how this works yet : it seems that it can cross some small obstacles but by doing that you also lose some power. It gets even more piercing capabilities with the later stages of the blue balls. Also worth noting that a lot of superplayers like Smraedis seem to avoid powering to stage 6 on purpose and my guess is that they have good reasons for doing so (probably more DPS), I'll have to check this.

https://youtu.be/k_0sRLwb2G8?t=12

Quote:
Stage 4: Sliding; double bombs that slide forward until they hit an obstacle.


This is also incorrect, those double bombs will only do that when fired at a certain distance from the ground. Otherwise they will just hit the ground without going forward :

https://youtu.be/z3kcwdG6Ssc?t=570 (You can see this cleary between 9:30 and 9:33)

Quote:
As you collect more shields the color changes, however I'm not sure what difference, if any, there is between them


Just as in other Darius games (well the ones I’ve played at least) they only work differently when you already have an active shield and take another one. Green adds one unit, silver and gold add two. This is important to know since it can be interesting to get hit on purpose when you have only one unit remaining and that you haven’t gotten silver yet. From what I’ve seen the difference between silver and gold are just cosmethic, if anybody has info on that please let us know.

Quote:
This is the course that I personally found to be the easiest.


i find this route to be one of the most difficult « AB start » ones, mainly due to D, L, Q, and V. It’s definetely not a route I would recommend to beginners, but as you said mileages may vary.

Quote:
I recommend not using your bombs until after you grab the shield


Yeah this section can be tricky, I don’t have a technique that is exactly the same every time but I usually go on the upper right of the screen and hold my fire until the shiadams (https://darius.fandom.com/wiki/Schiadam) arrive, then I go left and fire but most of the time I just improvise depending what’s coming. Good thing is that the fire balls are not random and will always come the same way, but I might need to find a safer strat for getting that anchor drones wave.

Quote:
Stage 2-B : Mercury

At the start use your bombs to kill the turrets on the ground


For these two turrets you can also fly ahead of them. Don’t have to dodge anything : https://youtu.be/YWKriVmXgJg?t=136

Quote:
You will eventually see a nuke behind a rock. You can set it off by using your lasers, but don’t do it right away, instead wait until it’s about to leave the playfield to blow it in order to deal some damage to the incoming midboss.


Not sure if the nuke hurts Green Coronatus, it doesn't seem to be doing him anything.

Quote:
After this there will be a rock on the ground with a blue missile tank behind it. It will quickly fire two missiles at a 45 degree angle, wait a second, and fire a third. Unlike other missiles they cannot be destroyed with your main shot, and when they line up with your ship they will change to a horizontal trajectory flying straight at you. This makes the blue tanks tricky and dangerous. Luckily the rock I mentioned will protect you. Position yourself behind the rock and wait for the tank to fire three missiles, then fly over the rock and use your bombs to kill it


For that specific bencer (https://darius.fandom.com/wiki/Bencer) I just fly over him most of the time. I find it’s the safest method
: https://youtu.be/PQzEL0XSl7Y?t=182. I use your technique only when I’m late on ennemy destruction.

Quote:
Stage 3-D: Venus

This stage’s main obstacles are mines that fire suicide spreads at you when shot. There are times when you want to make sure to shoot all of them, and other times where you want to stop firing altogether, so be prepared for that.


This is exactly the reason why I don’t encourage beginners to venture in D. The suicide spreads are completely random, and since there’s a lot of ennemies coming on at the same time you sometimes get no offer choice but to shoot, or get hit by their bullets if choosing the pacifist method. E is much easier despite the bad visibility.

Quote:
Stage 4-G: The Moon

(...)

After this the path splits. Take the top path. Under you are two nukes that can be destroyed with your lasers. Ignore the first nuke and wait for the second to expose its core


It’s ok to detonate the first nuke if playing for survival imo. The only reason not to blow up the nukes is to get the mayarikus which are worth a lot when destroyed (https://darius.fandom.com/wiki/Mayariku). If they self-destroy you get 0 points, it's the same in Darius and Darius Gaiden btw.

Quote:
When he first runs in stick close to him and shoot off all the limbs on his left side. He will jump and then fire a few shots. After it’s clear fly over him to the other side and blow off the right set of limbs. At this point he will only have his two legs remaining. WAIT to destroy them. Move to the far edge of either side of the playfield and wait for him to rush at you. When he does quickly fly over him and blow off his leg. He should now be immobilized and trapped at the far edge of the screen. Fly to the opposite end and keep shooting while dodging his bullets. The distance between you should give you plenty of space to dodge effectively until he dies.


When playing with 30hz rapidfire you can point blank him to death very quickly, and very easily (see above).

Quote:
Stage 5-L: Earth


What makes zone L so hard aside from the countless tomoyamas (https://darius.fandom.com/wiki/Tomoyama) is that you get the rolling bombs at the end of the stage, when you don’t need them anymore basically. Very tricky stage, I do not recommend it to beginners.

Quote:
Stage 6-Q: Mars

The stage is mostly standard fare this time


Zone Q is one of the hardest Darius II 6th stages, and the reason for it is very simple : two of the power-ups arrive at the same time as Octopus, while on others zones you can get them before fighting him. This makes the fight against Octopus very dangerous if you want to pick the power-ups
 safely.

Quote:
Stage 7-V: Jupiter

(...)

This stage is constant combat and precision dodging. You will fight two midbosses: the Iron Fossil from the Sun and the little octopus from Mars.


This alone makes it way harder than zone X where there is only one. It's also one of the zones where you get the shield only after defeating the midboss. Not the easiest final zone imo.

Quote:
Final Boss 7-V: Bio Strong

(...)

If for some reason you are killed and powered down I suggest never leaving the top edge of the screen.


With a good rapidfire no need to do that, you can just waste all your extra lives on the boss. The game gives you lots of hi-frames when respawing so it's something that can be abused. Even though it’s an easy final boss Bio Strong is the hardest of the final bosses imo, Little Stripes being the easier one.

Wasting lives on Bio Strong : https://youtu.be/TB0g5wzz3mA?t=1084

Little Stripes : https://youtu.be/mrZq-7HDIJ0?t=1118

Quote:
The so-called "gold" powerup (the laser powerup is "yellow") appears after dropping to one life remaining and then zero lives remaining, and replaces whatever the next powerup wave would have carried.


I’ve seen it drop occasionnally when I had more lives, don’t know the reason why though.

Quote:
Small tip: the blue blasts go through enemies if the blasts still have "energy" left.


They can even go through walls if they're not too big.

Quote:
Levels beyond this will cause the middle and front pairs to angle directly forward, which can actually cause trouble if you don't account for it.


Indeed, it also lowers the rate of which they come out since when heading forward they take more time to leave the screen.

Quote:
Use both pillbox bombs, as they give you a few points each; try not to get crushed by either Hyper Sting. As a general rule, activate every pillbox you can. It seems that later in the game (or is it rank-based?), pillboxes don't want to open if something's hitting them while they're closed.


Nah, it’s just that they are closed. I don’t think this has to do with rank

Quote:
Bio Strong is the silly easy final boss of Darius II, just like Octopus is in Darius.


Not as silly as Little Stripes ;). But yeah all Darius II bosses are silly :D : https://youtu.be/HC29uDa08VY?t=1081

Quote:
The arcades here have the game set on difficulty B.


Worth noting that this is not the case at Taito Hey.

Quote:
What was their reasoning for suddenly changing it? The powerup scarcity in the Arcade difficulty is for sure some bullshit, the intro demo shows the ship fully powered, yet it's actually impossible to even power that high. Almost seems like false advertising. I'm guessing they just wanted to squeeze out more cash from players.


Darius I was considered to easy, and had huge issues with the milk, especially considering the price of the cab. With Darius II they didn’t took any chances with that and made sure players suffered right from the start.

Fujiwara: In the beginning, what is now the Easy difficulty was originally supposed to be Normal, but because players have become too good at STGs, it was causing a problem for the arcade operators. That’s why we shipped it out at B Rank difficulty, at the last minute. And during the location tests, most of the players either went to the above route or the bottom route. Seeing that, we thought we’d make the straight, middle route the easiest.

http://shmuplations.com/dariusii/

Quote:
difficulty A feels kinda... well... easy (at least for a while) due to boss HP getting a cut and bullet patterns being seemingly calmed down a bit.


The only differences between A and B are 1) more powers-ups in A 2) lower starting rank in A). From what I’ve seen bosses have exactly the same ammount of HP (that’s what’s shown in the Cozmic Collection gadgets at least)

Quote:
I also am starting to wonder if the way difficulty A was balanced suggests you're just supposed to tap and never use the autofire dipswitch


That would be my guess, the game is managable with moderate taping, harder than B with rapidfire but similar imo (and some spots are actually easier due to having the right shooting angles at the right time). Here is a 1CC I've done in A with 5hz rapidfire: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vLEry62-O0I

Sorry for the long post, I've been playing Darius II a lot recently and I thought I might as well share my thoughts on the matter :mrgreen:.


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 Post subject: Re: ST: Darius II
PostPosted: Thu May 06, 2021 1:41 am 


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Hey Angler, thanks for the detailed post. I've been meaning to rewrite this guide from the ground up for years now. It was one of the first I ever wrote and though at the time I labelled it as ST it's really more of an SD compiling the notes I took scraping by my first clear of Darius II long long ago. A bit embarrassing to read now... :oops: I've also gotten a lot better at the game over the years and use pretty different strategies now from what is detailed here.

Lots of useful stuff in your post so I will just direct new players to read it and utilize it for now until I eventually rewrite this thing. A few specific points I want to address though:

Regarding auto-fire: you should absolutely 100% be using a combination of slower auto-fire and full speed (30 shots per second) auto-fire as a beginner. Exactly as you say, it's very easy to point blank the bosses for speed kills. At the time I wrote this I was learning via the (terrible) Saturn port using a stock controller so I didn't have access to full auto. That said......

.....I've seen two variations of the Darius II cabinet in Tokyo. The first is Taito HEY!'s famous custom machine. This machine (like most of HEY's) features default firing speed an an extra custom button for full auto. You mentioned that Taito runs difficulty A but actually that wasn't always the case. When this guide was written HEY's cabinet was set to difficulty B and I learned the majority of this guide's strategies by watching the Japanese players play on that cabinet. They eventually switched it to difficulty A and it still runs A to this day, but as one of HEY!'s regulars I can tell you that the change killed the popularity of the game. At one time this cab had serious players on it constantly with spectators and it was a sort of heyday for Darius II, but now the cab is often empty or occupied by tourists who can't survive the first stage whether it's difficulty A or not. For me it's a bit of a sad change, but I'm sure they have their reasons. Certainly it's a strong argument for A being the intended difficulty.

The other however was an original unmodified cab playable at the now closed down (thanks Covid!) Natsuge Museum in Akihabara. That cab ran difficulty B and had no custom auto-fire. This means the shot rate was something around 15 shots per second. I'll be honest, this is not beginner friendly at all, but after years of unexciting half-assed HEY! difficulty A clears it was the most fun I'd had with Darius II in a long time. There's an old argument that Gaiden wasn't designed around full-auto. I think this can be doubly said of Darius II. The game is very different without it, and in my opinion much more interesting. I highly recommend trying this style out for more advanced players.

But yeah to put it very simply, play what you want, how you want. Just thought a little history might be interesting.

One final small note, this guide doesn't really detail the easiest path, it just details the path I had learned at the time. X is definitely the easiest final zone, but Little Stripes blue balls you a bit by being anticlimactic. These days I usually do Z' with Mother Hawk.
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 Post subject: Re: ST: Darius II
PostPosted: Thu May 06, 2021 3:32 am 


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Am I right to assume that the default Normal on Darius II Cozmic Collection is the B difficulty and Easy would be A?


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 Post subject: Re: ST: Darius II
PostPosted: Thu May 06, 2021 7:13 am 


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Rastan78 wrote:
Am I right to assume that the default Normal on Darius II Cozmic Collection is the B difficulty and Easy would be A?


This is correct.
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