Darius Gaiden - Taito

Darius Gaiden

Reviewed by Recca

(Note: This review is from the Saturn version, but I took screenshots in RAINE. Sorry)

I wasn't to sure what to expect from this one. I bought a Saturn over a year ago to buy some cool Shmups, but I needed something to tide me over until then. So, when I bought my saturn With 4-in-one converter, I picked up Galactic Attack (Layer Section) and Darius Gaiden. The combined price of both games was $20.00.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Darius, here's the breakdown: You control a ship called the "Silver Hawk." There are upgradeable levels for firepower, missles, and shields. These are upgraded when you pick up certain power-ups, for example: red power-up = firepower increase. As levels get higher, it becomes a Green Wave that decimates your enemies. Green Power-up = missle increase. Your shots eventually become homing missles. Blue power-up = Shield Increase. The Gold Shield offers the most protection. Also, boss ships look like sea creatures, because it wouldn't be Darius without them.

There is an addition to this system in Darius Gaiden: Namely, the black-hole bomber. You stock three of these initially, and can get more with the purple power-ups. What happens is, smaller enemies are sucked into the hole, then, larger enemies, such as bosses, are blasted with lightning! There's a cool little graphical effect, too. Unfortunately, it doesn't really add much to the game, but it's fun to watch, at least.

As most of you know, the Taito-owned band Zuntata always does the Darius soundtracks. Unfortunately, this is not their best work. The music is REALLY repetitive, and a few annoying voice samples ("Close your eyes. Close your head." At least, I THINK that's what they're saying.) don't help much.The credits theme was decent; I liked the piano and opera undertones. I also thought the final level had some good music, but overall, this is easily forgetable music. Sorry, Zuntata. The sound effects, explosions and lasers and whatnot, sounded okay, but were really nothing to write home about.

For it's time, the graphics were NICE. Explosions look realistic, mass firepower on the screen with little slowdown, and wicked-looking lasers. The explosion when you beat a boss looks totally awesome, and there are some trippy, wavy backgrounds now common to Darius games. Using the Black Hole Bomber is a visual feast. And the bosses! Wow! She looks good, I'll give her that!

Gameplay. Here's where we go falling: The game almost RELIES on the Black-Hole Bombs. There's so much fire on screen at once, that the only way to get rid of it is to suck it up with a bomb. It's a good thing the Saturn version limits you to three continues, or it would be more prudent to simply die constantly for the purpose of restocking your bombs. If you manage to get your firepower to it's highest point, the game becomes too easy until you run out of bombs and get hit. Then, your main weapon drops down a little. Very unbalanced, to say the least.

This certainly isn't the worst game in the Darius series, but it's far from the best. Should you get it? Well, here's the thing: I bought mine used, in good condition, for $10.00. If you find it at that price, by all means buy it. I would have given it points for having redbook audio, so you can listen to it on a CD player, but the music was lacking so that's gone. Not a BAD game per se, but if you're looking for a Darius fix, you can do much better than this. However, despite these flaws, you can still find something of an enjoyable experience in Darius Gaiden. Just don't expect to be completely blown away.


Zone A: A city level? Cool. Don't see one of these too often in a Darius game...


The first boss, "Golden Ogre." More like "Golden Wimp," if you ask me! He has a big laser, though...


Zone B, the "Black Hole Bomb" in action! Smaller enemies are sucked in...


...while larger enemies are blasted with lightning! Burn! Burn!


Zone E, an asteroid field...must have been a pain in the ass to attach those turrets to the asteroids!


The Electric Fan! It attempts to suck you in, and if that doesn't work, it spits out a ton of little blue bullets!

[That kind of reminds me of a girl I knew :P - Akira]


Hey, this level is easy! Just shoot rocks and get power-ups! Wait! What's that...?


THAT can't be good...


A kick-ass entrance as we arrive on Planet Darius!


The boss of Zone R, Crusty Hammer! I think Taito started running out of boss names...


Vermillion Coronatus, the final boss of the path I chose! He traps you in an energy field and tries to pull you into the path of his laser!



I'm not much of a Darius fan, as a matter of fact, I have not liked a single one of them (haven't tried G-Darius yet, I'm hunting down a copy :), except for Gaiden. Unlike Recca here, I think this is one of the most enjoyable of the series. I might change my mind when I try G-Darius, we'll see :)

Anyway, if you got a Sat, you must have this game. Come on, it costs only a tenner at the most, and you can find it at most shops that sell videogames (Toys R Us or EB come to mind)

- Akira


shmups!   © 1997 - 2007  Malcolm Laurie