Darius seems like that series that no one talked about up until the other year where no one talked about it and then all of a sudden we are getting re-releases every other month, this time is the PSX title G-Darius getting the re-release treatment.
If you have been living under a rock or the mere thought of an arcade shoot em up used to repulse you then you’ll be wondering what is a Darius (pronounced Dah-Rai-Us), you control the Silver Hawk and fly through the galaxy taking down various Marine based foes in the traditional Shmup or Shoot Em Up style gameplay.
Darius tradition dictates that there should be multiple paths through the game, this again is an option here but is done halfway through a stage and will put you on different paths, this increases the replayability substantially and the fun factor as it’s always good to take different routes and have a different run than your previous one.
Visually G-Darius has a fantastic art style unfortunately held back by the hardware it released on, coupled with a lack of upgrade gives it a vintage poligonal look which isn’t the easiest on the eyes compared to the visual feast that was Darius Gaiden.
The stage art is fantastic and shows the best that Darius can offer ranging from the picturesque countryside to prehistoric wastelands, underwater planets and the eternal void that is space.
The soundtrack is every Darius game is outstanding and is the main reason I’ve done a deep dive into the series in recent years, G-Darius is thankfully no exception with some of the best songs in the series this side of DariusBurst, containing a wonderfully eclectic mix of electric, rock and some beautifully haunting vocals this is one special OST.
On the gameplay side of the spectrum, G-Darius offers an expansion on the capture mechanic that was in Darius Gaiden, rather than having to attack sub-bosses in a particular area instead it’s a fully-fledged function that offers a lot of freedom and strategy in how you tackle the stages.
You start the game with 3 capture balls and these can be picked up at any time, most enemies or sub-bosses can be captured and they join you, some add to your “fleet” while others can act as a shield, sub-bosses are especially good captures but usually need whittling down a bit health-wise until you can add them to your posse.
The captured enemies can either be your assisting unit, turned into an area clearing bomb or if the release button is head down turned into a devastating beam akin to the famous Kamehameha wave, bosses also have this beam and if you can trigger it at the right time you’ll have a beam struggle which isn’t just spectacle it usually destroys any boss it hits.
Finally, the usual upgrade system has made the jump over to this version, your shot can be upgraded 3 times, your shield can allow up to 4 hits and you can also improve your small bomb to take out ground enemies which fire alongside your basic shot.
This package of G-Darius contains two versions, the HD remaster which touches the graphics up and does a good job despite it still looking very Ps1 era and the base arcade release which I believe is the 1.2 release of the game with original visuals, it is worth noting that there is a major patch in the works to provide G-Darius 2.0 at a later date which had many tweaks to it making it unofficially dubbed as “G-Darius Black Label”.
The performance in G-Darius HD and the arcade port is a little bit of a sticking point, while M2 has accurately ported the games over and done a fantastic job, as usual, some of the slowdown I felt was a little egregious, there are sections where it does assist in terms of dodging bullets but the frame rate would then jump up making the game almost jolt forward, this was most noticeable in scene transitions and was something I was hoping would have been ironed out of the HD release at least.
As this is an M2 jam you can expect the usual smorgasbord of options, tweaking of lives, how many points for an extend, infinite continues and quicksave/loads, for those who like to tailor the gaming experience, also included is online leaderboards for you to run headfirst into and feel your skills lacking at the might of the Shmup greats.
G-Darius HD is a fantastic title weighed down with a few big red marks, the slowdown being touted as a feature being the main one and the lack of a training mode is another, should the 2.0 patch materialize that will solve the latter problem but I doubt the former will get addressed.
Another knock on the package is that in Japan this title was bundled in with DariusBurst which we reviewed previously, it is a slightly harder sell on its own and presents less of an actual bargain this way and is more of an investment for newcomers curious to this series.
Representing some of the highest heights in the Darius series.
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