Take flight in the iconic Silver Hawk!
All that know me are aware that I am a Darius fan, with Gaiden being my favourite. In walks G-Darius HD looking like a great addition to my shmup library and somewhat similar to Gaiden so I’m in! The original arcade game was also released on PlayStation one and two in addition to PC. Now, the upgraded HD version is available for current generation consoles with the help of ININ Games which is fantastic! The original game is available to play as well as the remastered HD version updated by M2. My focus for this review will be on the HD version, let’s dig in!
First impressions were great as you can see by our video on YouTube. Controls feel good, the sometimes subtle but eerie music is haunting, boss entrances are fantastic. Nothing stand-off in the first ten minutes of play to warn others about as it seems to be an approachable game!
Once I dug deeper into the game I was met with ferocity and awe. Difficulty rose quickly and skill expectations went through the roof! This is not a beginner shmup in any way, that can come with the territory of arcade ports but I felt the spike in G-Darius HD was above my pay grade. The first stage sets the bar on difficulty pretty high considering it’s the easiest. Unless you’re a Darius expert, get ready to credit feed to the end the way I did. Credit feeding until the end was out of curiosity while showcasing the game on stream but my time with G-Darius HD did not end there. It mostly revealed the steep hike in difficulty and how much time and memorisation would be required to complete with one credit.
At the top of the first stage the player is given a quick note that states the purple upgrade is a capture ball, Gaiden fans will be familiar with. In that game the mid-bosses could be put under the player’s control if their ball was captured, then used against enemies. G-Darius HD takes that idea and expands it upon all enemies and even has achievements tracking the enemies captured. It’s almost like a Pokémon experience throwing the capture ball at enemies and being denied at times, only to shoot some more firepower and try again.
The other important mechanic is not learned in-game but the manual which is frustrating. I had not read the manual but was informed by a fellow shmupper about the A Beam. While holding down the rapid-fire, press and hold the single fire button to build up the beam and let go, then rapidly pressing the shot button to inflict more damage to enemies using the A beam. It sounds like a lot but once the player does this two or three times it is much easier. To this end, I tell myself I need to read the game manuals more often so mechanics are not overlooked.
Thrilling gameplay, modern HD visuals!
Graphically we are met with the classic Darius look, more so reminding me of Gaiden than anything. This side-scrolling shmup showcases its infamous bosses consisting of machine-like sea creatures such as fish, whales, and sharks. All boss battles have a dramatic cinematic entrance to start each brutal battle and that is by far my favourite portion of this game. If I have fought the same boss twenty times I’m likely watching the entrance a twenty-second time. It not only builds the anticipation of battle but tension as well, making for a daunting dual. Boss battles will last much longer than needed without the A beam but I challenge the experts to avoid using it and see how they fare. Backgrounds are full of interesting moving parts such as the underwater bullet train or enemies that will eventually move to the foreground. All aspects including the twisting camera bring such an arcade feel to the game I can’t help but picture me playing this in an arcade one day. It all feels like a familiar Darius experience but I’m okay with that.
What sticks out most to me in the controls department while using a Pro Controller is all the vibration! It’s insane during the intro to levels, outro to levels, boss entrances, and while showing scores at the end of a run. It cannot be turned off to my knowledge but it’s not a problem when I switch to my arcade stick. Directional movements are tight and attacks are reactive to the touch. I don’t see or feel any issues here.
Epic boss battles to the memorable soundtrack!
Whether it be to build hype or tension, the music in some stages takes time to begin. The player is left with the sweet sound of rapid-fire and enemy explosions. Once the music kicks in, we’re now in tune with the game and can enjoy it to the fullest. Other times such as boss battles, the music is sporadic and will stop, again to only hear the sound of fire. It’s different than most shmups I can say I’ve played but it’s not a bad thing. Confirmed it does add tension and some scary feels thinking the boss will take forever to beat or I will perish due to lack of memorisation of their move set or my forgetfulness of the capture mechanic. Don’t go into a boss battle without having captured an enemy or the A Beam will not be utilised.
Stage A boss music stuck with me as I was singing the tune while doing laundry. This game is a bit tough for me as I have yet to clear my 1cc or anywhere close to it, but it will remain in my rotating shmups while I stream. One of my favourite moments was finding out about the A Beam and using it to decimate the first boss. I can see the $29.99/£24.99 buy in price being too steep and the game too difficult for beginners so I would only recommend to medium to experts in the genre. I would say put Darius Cozmic Collection Arcade on your wishlist as that is $44.99/£34.99 and I believe that went on sale in the UK at one point, it includes four Darius games across seven titles.
Review code provided
Release Date: 28/09/2021
No. of Players: 1-2
Category: Action, Arcade, Adventure
Developer: M2, Taito
Publisher: ININ Games
Download link: US eShop / UK eShop