Gaming History 101

Know Your Roots

Darxide (Frontier)

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Darxide is a game that probably few people know about given all of the obstacles it faces to get into gamers’ hands.  First off it was released on the 32x…only in Europe…and it had a very limited print run.  I haven’t been able to find out how many carts were produced, but the game fetches hundreds of pounds in its native land.  I found one on eBay for about $700 (and that doesn’t even count the fact that the game will only run on a PAL/European 32x) and the gaming store I borrowed the game from sells the game with a European/PAL Mega Drive/32x combo for $900.00.  Assuming you can get beyond that expensive barrier for entry, you’re supposedly awarded with a decent shmup.  Now that I’ve played it, I’m not so sure I can agree.

Darxide was developed by Frontier Games as a launch title for the Sega Neptune, which was a hybrid Sega Genesis/Mega Drive and 32x combo console in one.  In truth, you can do a little work arounds and get a 32x to fit into a Genesis 2 case still attached if you remove all the plastic components, but due to some issues with a permanently installed 32x (a few Genesis games and all Master System games won’t work with 32x) I never actually did it.  Either way the failure of the 32x for several reasons we’ve covered, resulted in the cancellation of the Neptune and Darxide without a good release window.  Being a native United Kingdom developer, my guess is that it was cheapest and best to launch the game first in Europe and based on its success to release it worldwide.  Well in 1995 the 32x and Darxide failed in tandem, resulting in the game’s overall rarity and exclusivity.  I must say having played it that it takes on a similar arcade on-rails shotter feel like Star Wars Arcade and Star Fox, but with cleaner, more impressive graphics.  It also runs very smoothly in comparison to its more popular brethren.  The gameplay, on the other hand leaves much to be desired.  I guess you should just see for yourself before I say more:

Do you see what I see?  It’s a behind-the-ship version of Asteroids!  That’s what all the fuss is about?  To be fair, it’s not a bad game and it does look and run great, not to mention that Asteroids still is a great game.  At the same time, I just can’t believe that this is what was going to usher in the next “generation” of Sega consoles.  I guess that just goes to show you can’t trust launch games, even back in 1995.  Can’t say I’m all that surprised, almost none of the high value rare games in existence are actually worth playing and none of them are worth the ridiculous price tag to someone who plans to actually play the game.

In honor of Darxide and to begin our classic shmup segment for the week we will be starting tomorrow with Asteroids as our shmup of the day.

Written by Fred Rojas

March 18, 2012 at 12:00 pm

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