Dual monitor? Psch, puh-lease...

Source // Hardcore Gaming 101

"This is a shoot 'em up set underwater?! Nah, you're having a laugh there"

Despite swearing I've just watched the vistas of space fly past in the background, Darius is - I read - a space shooter that doesn't take part in space. It sure does have the mechanics of a space shooter though, so we should be right at home getting to grips with upgradable weaponry and power ups.

Source // Hardcore Gaming 101


Except I'm not going to play it. Come to think of it, that's a bit of a problem, seeing as I'm trying to play 1001 video games for this blog. Let's start at the beginning.

Darius is, essentially, the same old shooter you've seen before. It's still early days in terms of the genre really getting going, but at its heart is you versus everything else, before some large boss battles to conclude each zone. Been there, done that. You could play that in numerous titles across all kinds of systems. I could even try going for a Darius port, but I'd have a slight problem...

In the arcades, Darius made use of three monitors and a mirror to produce a super wide image. The screenshots here don't do it justice, nor does the video above. Maybe if you full screen it you get an idea. The point is, three monitors-worth of screen real estate leads to different gameplay than one - in comparison - pokey screen.

Add to that that the comparison is really between three tuned to perfection (ideally) arcade monitors with a complete audio-visual presentation designed to sucker you in and get you spending money on lives and two player co-op, and a port for home computers and systems that will inevitably not be up to par with the arcade original, before you find the best TV to use.

It just won't be the same, and not terribly close to what the developers originally intended, which is how we should all be trying to play our games.

Fun Times

With that all out of the way, we can at least see what all the fuss is about by watching it.

Darius tasks you with making progress through seven zones, each full of terrain to dodge, enemies to dispose of, power-ups to collect and make use of, and an end stage boss to keep firing at until you are victorious.

It's not all rinse and repeat though, as zones can be mixed up depending on which path you decide on taking in between zones, meaning there are 28 different zones available to play through, seven of which you will encounter during a complete run through the game.

A number of weapons are available and upgradeable, from lasers, missiles and bombs, to more far-fetched beam-type weapons that will soon become common throughout the genre, ensuring yet more replayability as you try them all out and see which ones work for you. 

Final Word

Is that enough for you though? Does that keep your attention?

I can't say for sure, having not played it, but from watching it I already get the feeling that there's only so much I'm willing to play through. Beyond the screen set up, I can't see anything that makes Darius an absolute must play title. It looks great, I've already forgotten what the music was, and if you like the genre then you'll like the gameplay, for a while at least.

Does that justify an inclusion on the 1001 list, a bold monitor set up? Technically clever, yes, definitely, but it's all about the underlying game at the end of the day, isn't it?

Until I actually play Darius - in some form - I won't know how the game itself really feels.

Fun Facts

The theme music for the first stage of Darius was originally from another Taito title, Metal Soldier Isaac II, and put in as a place holder. Hearing it work at a trade show convinced the developers to keep it.

Darius, developed by Taito, first released in 1986.
Version watched: Arcade, 1986 (World of Longplays)