Blast from the past
Title: Darius Cozmic Collection Arcade
Platform: Nintendo Switch and PS4 (reviewed)
Publisher: ININ Games/TAITO
Release date: Out Now
tl;dr: Small package, intense action
Price: £35 / $45
Family Focus: Click here for more information.
The Darius series is a shoot’em up, or shmup, which first saw release in arcades in 1987 despite copyrights stating 1986. This series is known for its non-linear game design, multiple endings, and having a three-screen cabinet. Fast forward to 2020 where ININ Games has bundled up early arcade Darius games in a single package for current shmup fans to enjoy.
The Darius Cozmic Collection Arcade features variants of the first two Darius games along with the third game in the series:
- Darius (original version)
- Darius (new version)
- Darius (extra version)
- Darius II (Dual Screen version)
- SAGAIA (ver.1) (a.k.a. Darius II)
- SAGAIA (ver.2) (a.k.a. Darius II)
- Darius Gaiden (Arcade) (a.k.a. Darius III)
The Darius games are 2D shmup where players need to destroy every enemy in their path all the while navigating screens filled with enemy bullets. After surviving the onslaught, players are going head-to-head with an end-level boss before proceeding to the next level. As with most shmups, players die after one hit, so you have to be quick to avoid any incoming danger.
After you’ve selected the game you want to play, you can choose between Normal and Practice mode. While the details indicate that Practice mode is a bit more lenient, Normal mode is actually easier (well as easy as shmups can be) than Practice mode as I found bigger enemies take less hit before dying.
Your spaceship has two attacks: a standard attack and a rapid attack. The standard attack will only shoot a single bullet at a time while the rapid one will unleash a small barrage of bullets. Why was this created this way is a mystery as you’ll spend most of your time using the rapid attack button. Along with your straight forward, your ship also fires downward going missiles allowing you to easily dispatch of annoying ground enemies.
As with any good old shmups, players progressing through each level will find power-ups that increase your firepower and give you stronger attacks. Additionally, while you can die from a single hit, you can also pick up a shield that will allow you to survive a few hits depending on how many shields icon you picked up; with the max being 4. Once it’s depleted, the next hit will cause death. It’s a nice mechanic that can prolong the fun.
As you complete levels, you’re also given the choice to select which level to attempt. While this means you won’t have to go through each level of each game, you can select the path to follow in the choices given. It’s a great way to extend the replay value of shmups as it allows players to rarely enjoy the same playthrough over and over. Mixed this with multiple endings and you’ll be busy for quite some time. Also, considering the notorious difficulty of shmups, you can do quick saves in order to take a break and pick up where you left off later. For PS4 players, trophies will unlock through Normal play; Practice mode is slightly easier but a great way to practice.
One of the more questionable designs across the game is that once you are game over, you still have to add “coins” by pressing a shoulder button (R1 on PS4) and then pressing the other one (L1 on PS4) in order to continue. Considering we’ve seen a handful of arcade games being ported to current-gen consoles that allow for a simple button press before continuing, this is a little annoying as it’s not explained.
While I applaud this type of initiative, the game variety is a bit lacking here. 7 games sound like a lot, but considering there are only 4 really different games, it feels a bit lacklustre. The first Darius sees 4 different variants, but nothing worthwhile. The extra-version does have different enemy placement, but otherwise, unless you’re a die-hard Darius fan, you won’t really be bothered or tempted let alone notice the differences.
Most of the games in the Darius Cozmic Collection Arcade look great. This is definitely a great thing about shmup; it’s all about gameplay. As long as the game looks and feel vibrant and colourful where you can distinguish yourself from enemies, it does the job well. The little flaw is the first Darius game. The game is displayed on a small horizontal bar across your screen; making enemies and enemy bullets sometimes are to see and obviously avoid. You can change the view of it, but having it stretch makes it feel wrong. The soundtracks are actually pretty good and faithful; the porting to consoles is spot on. Curiously enough, Darius Gaiden has tracks with an electronica vibe with an opera singer… it’s definitely odd. There’s also a few minor audio clipping issues but nothing major.
Darius Cozmic Collection Arcade is a great package, especially for shmups fans and also for newcomers to the genre. Despite lacking game-wise, each game will keep you busy for some time, especially thanks to branching paths which will lead to different endings. My only gripe is the pricing. Considering we’re paying for 4 near 40-year-old games, $45 feels like too much.
- Perfect for shmup fans
- Darius Gaiden
- Branching paths and multiple endings
- Steep pricing for little game variety
- The original Darius and its horizontal view
Darius Cozmic Collection Arcade is rated E10+ and PEGI7 for animated violence.
This review is based on a review copy of the game provided by the publisher