What a load of Shmup!
ININ Games is a name that the Shmup community is now familiar with and thankful for bringing the Darius Cozmic Collection into a digital existence. Previously held to a physical release and maybe even the Japanese digital eShop but I was not planning to make yet another account to make Nintendo’s platform more accessible, us digital collectors rejoice. Both the Arcade and Console releases have made their way to the eShop with this reviews focus being on the Arcade edition.
Listed below are the Arcade releases of Darius included, touting four games and seven total iterations:
- Darius (Arcade, original version)
- Darius (Arcade, new version)
- Darius (Arcade, extra version)
- Darius II (Arcade, Dual Screen version)
- SAGAIA (Arcade, ver.1)
- SAGAIA (Arcade, ver.2)
- Darius Gaiden (Arcade)
Up first is the question, why are there different releases included? I’m thinking for historical reasons and to beef up the package for this $45/£34.99 price tag. Otherwise, we basically have three games for $15/£14.99 each which honestly is not a bad deal for the infamous series.
- High score board save
- Darius – old version
A slow and underpowered ship immerges while dated yet charming music plays. Our play area is long and thin which will set it apart from other games in the genre but it’s refreshing to see. I found myself humming the music when away from the game. Patience and precision are at the forefront of my mind as I’ve taken a dive plenty of times in the first level. Although the difficulty is high, the player can add many lives with the press of a button. Upgrade bullets and bombs, as well as a shield when the balloon upgrades are obtained. Utilising the bombs for enemies on the ground and ceiling is a must and will continue to the other games. I got my butt handed to me plenty of times in this version and bounced back and forth between other games to keep things fresh. Think of the three versions in terms of difficulty:
- Old version: Hard
- New version – Normal
- Extra version – Easy
I can make it to the boss with ease on Extra but the hike gets steeper on the old version. The gameplay area is a bit thin for handheld mode so I would suggest playing docked. On the pause menu, we see the zone map with the possible routes and power-ups. Main play area shows lives, score, upgrades, boss preview, song names, less detailed zone map, and an awesome Darius logo. All games make my Switch vibrate like crazy.
Break it down for me!
Darius II – When booted up it flashes as if the cart wasn’t properly secured, remember that? The play area is larger and the game already feels nice. Fiery magma covers the bottom half and it appears we are in hell. The Switch vibrates and enemies shoot our way! Once the first couple rows of enemies are taken down we have two upgrades and are already feeling powerful. Snag the shields at all costs because those are your upgrades. In no time our bombs have changed to a vertical piercing laser and our stock shot is a double. Assuming you can dodge through all the fireballs and make it to the first boss, you will face a beautiful magenta fish boss. Avoiding shots along the way will keep you at proper strength, but be aware of your surroundings as no upgrades are needed. Keep up this momentum until Zone G-J and I hope you enjoy the crab boss as much as I did. I laughed my butt off at the phases that follow. Take it out limb by limb and watch as it runs around. I’m a big fan of the way the ship turns around to shoot in the opposite direction when bosses veer to the left side of the screen.
SAGAIA Version 1 – This is Darius II but with shortened stages and higher difficulty. It also has lowered boss health and taken out some zone routes. That’s per the game explanation but I felt I progressed further in this than Darius II. The levels stop at Zone P and have fewer choices but I don’t feel like I’m missing out as I haven’t played every stage and zone route available.
SAGAIA Version 2 – The only difference in the game explanation from version 1 is “This second version was hardly available on the market, possibly not even at all”. I found Version 2 to be easier so again, in sequential order they go from most difficult to most easy. This has been my findings but if you feel otherwise let me know what you think, let’s talk about it.
Darius Gaiden – Gaiden is the front runner for myself and any other shmup fan I’ve spoken with that had the privilege of receiving a code, or otherwise obtaining a physical copy. The game pumps its chest and takes the lead from the get-go as you burst into play, destroying incoming enemies with ease and quickly gaining an upgrade. Double and triple shots feel satisfying and auto bomb drops help clean up the battlefield both on the ground and ceiling depending on your upgrade.
This game is ahead of its time in terms of look and feel.
It’s satisfying to play but also mesmerising watching the bosses move from foreground to background. They are bigger than the previous games and much more impressive in presentation. Games I’m playing now don’t look this awesome or make use of depth of field. Play area is larger and much easier on the eyes, which is much appreciated. Enemies are more prevalent and make awesome entrances to the screen.
The pace of play is faster and more engaging than all other Darius games. Shots are satisfying and scooping up multiple upgrades feels great. First stage music is a bit, soft-core but it differs per level so don’t get discouraged. Boss fights are fun and once complete they get destroyed into the distance with a great explosion and a burst of colour with a great three-dimensional look. Love it!
I could not help but play each game in order and will recommend others do the game.
That will allow the player to get a good feel for each and to feel improvements along the way. Five hours were given to the Darius Cozmic Collection with ease and I will be returning often as the replayability is high. Unfortunately, Nintendo makes us wait ten days to find out the total time played. Two-player is an option but I’ll keep you posted if I can get my Lady Shmup to play with me. I love that unpausing the game gives a short countdown to ready the player, that is so considerate. My biggest question is, will people be able to upgrade to the console version to include all games by paying the $15/£14.99 difference from the arcade version? I would love to explore the rest of the games.
While the eShop is loaded with shmups to play the Darius Cozmic Collection is a wonderful addition and I’m happy to have reviewed it. I can easily recommend the arcade edition as I loved the time spent with it. Massive thanks to ININ Games for making these games accessible to digital collectors, and I look forward to Darius Cozmic Revelation!