Darius (arcade game)

From Academic Kids


Darius is a horizontally scrolling shoot 'em up computer game produced by Taito and released in arcades in 1986.



Missing image
A section of the first level of Darius

Uniquely among shoot 'em ups, the game screen is three times wider than conventional size, and the arcade version uses an arrangement of three screens to accommodate it.

The player flies an ornate fighter craft called a Silver Hawk. The craft is equipped with two attack weapons: Missile, which refers to the forward gun, and Bomb, which refers to ballistic bombs dropped from the craft. A third capability of the craft is referred to as Arm - a green energy shield that can absorb damaging impacts without harm to the ship.

During the course of the levels the player must navigate the terrain, and battle a variety of fighter craft, ground vehicles, turrets, and other obstacles.

At the end of every level, the terrain fades away and the game issues a textual warning of the form "WARNING! A HUGE BATTLESHIP x-y IS APPROACHING FAST.", where x is the name of a boss and y is a letter identifying the current level. The player then arrives in a tunnel where the boss resides, and must defeat it to progress to a new level. The bosses in Darius, although mechanical, are frequently in the form of aquatic animals, such as fish or squid.

If the player defeats the boss, the tunnel splits into two and the player must decide whether to take the upper or lower tunnel, both of which lead to a different stage. This means that the levels are arranged in a binary tree, allowing many different paths to be taken through the game.

Power ups

In Darius, there are three power-up bars; one each for Missile, Bomb, and Arm. Each bar has seven divisions.

Power-ups can be obtained by shooting enemies of a certain colour. The power-ups are in the form of coloured bubbles, and the colour corresponds to one of the three weapons, as follows:

  • Red - Missile
  • Green - Bomb
  • Blue - Arm

Collecting a bubble powers up the corresponding weapon, and highlights a new division on the corresponding power-up bar. The Arm, if it is diminished or absent at the time of collecting the Blue power-up, is regenerated and powered up.

If the player powers up a weapon more than seven times, the weapon becomes Super, as indicated above the power-up bar, which resets itself to an unhighlighted state. The Super weapon then becomes the player's default, and can be powered up further.

There are two other colours of power-up bubble - white, and orange - which can be obtained by shooting at certain points of the terrain; there are, however, no visual clues as to where these may be in the level.

  • White - gives a score bonus
  • Orange - a smart bomb; kills all enemies on screen

The Silver Hawk

The game's attract mode displays diagrams and statistics on the Silver Hawk, providing the following physical information:

  • Length: 65.6 FT
  • Height: 26.2 FT
  • Width: 49.2 FT
  • Weight: 77160 LBS


Darius II

Missing image
Screenshot from the three-screen arcade version of Darius II

The direct sequel to Darius, first released in arcades in 1988. It was also ported to the Sega Genesis, where it was known as Sagaia.

The arcade version kept the same three-screen format as the first game. The power-up system changed slightly - now, to obtain power-ups, the player had to destroy complete waves of a particular enemy.

Two new power-ups were added: a new weapon power-up which gives the player green, vertical lasers, and a rainbow-coloured item that powers up all the players weapons.

Missing image
Darius II Zone Select screen

The game is set in the inner half of the Solar system, and has the same branching level structure as Darius.

Another new feature in Darius II is the appearance of minibosses - large enemies that appear near the middle of a level, with similar abilities to the game's normal bosses (such as extravagant weapons, or the inability to be damaged without first exposing a vulnerable area). The first miniboss in Darius II is in fact the first boss from Darius.

Darius Twin


Darius Force/Super Nova


Darius Gaiden

Missing image
Darius Gaiden

Darius Gaiden, part of Taito Corporation's Darius series, was initially an arcade game (1994), then a Sega Saturn title (1996), then ported to Microsoft Windows and PlayStation platforms (1999).

The lush faux 3D backgrounds, frantically gyrating enemies, demented music, fully tripped-out fish-themed enemies and an eye-popping color scheme combine to deliver a wildly screwy Japanese shooter experience. There's a moment on the underwater level (one of the branching paths after the first level) when the operatic Zuntata score coincides with the initial appearance of a writing, multi-jointed starfish creature in a submarine field of missile-firing fauna which beautifully encapsulates this game's seductive, fever-dream appeal: It's very, very weird.

Darius Gaiden suffers from the impossibly-hard-boss syndrome to the point where the main strategy is to hoard as many smart-bombs as possible for the boss encounters. Some of these missile swarms seem absolutely un-dodgeable--at least on the "normal" difficulty setting. A handy device to have is a Pro Action Replay cartridge, which has some Darius G. cheats (like infinite credits) available to less-skilled players.

Darius R

(Game Boy Advance)


(Arcade, PlayStation, PC)

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