Gaming History 101

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Posts Tagged ‘darius

Podcast: What the Shmup

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One of the oldest and most popular genres in gaming is the “shoot-em-up” or “shmup” for short.  Whether you’re a space ship, a young girl, or even a winged pod the basic goal is to navigate the screen, rack up points, and don’t die.  Fred and Jam dive into the origins of the shmup, the sub-genres that exist, and some of their personal favorites.

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Dariusburst Chronicle Saviours Review

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When you think of space shooters, the Darius series is probably not the first one you would think of, so it came as a wonderful surprise to to see this title come from out of nowhere and single handedly brought about what could be the renaissance of the space shooter series.  Dariusburst Chronicles Saviours (DBCS) is a love letter to the Darius series as well as anyone who has nostalgia for the shoot-em-up (shmup) genre. This series first started all the way back in 1986 and was infamously known for its merginging of space and the ocean. By this I mean that enemy ships all look like mechanical fish. It has an incredible design to it that you’ve just never seen anywhere else. Although the Darius series has not seen recent titles in the West, it has been living on with a lot of popularity in Japan on the portable and arcade scene.

The DBCS concept is pretty simple: you’re in a small space ship flying through various environments and your goal is to unload bullet hell onto any fishy looking space ship that happens to disturb your casual flight. The main hook of this game is the “burst” feature, which is a super charged cannon and unloads a devastating beam of death once you have acquired enough charge. It’s an essential feature to use against the gorgeous looking boss battles which range from giant mechanical crabs, lion-fish, and swordfish. It felt like quite the trip to the mechanical aquarium for me as I used to be quite the enthusiast of fish in my younger days and seeing some of creatures recreated in this game brought a smile to my face. What I love about the boss battles in this game is how you’re presented with a giant “WARNING” sign before each foe appears, you have this feeling something sinister is around the corner. Despite seeing this screen hundreds of times it never got old for me. If you’re skilled with the cannon, you can time it just right for when the boss decides to give you a stream of its own beam of death, which you can counter and land an even bigger beam of destruction back at the baddie. This moment when I was clever (or lucky) enough to pull it off was one of the most satisfying feelings I’ve had in gaming for quite some time. Its not all burst beams though, ships come in different fins and shells and you can pick up power-ups to upgrade your ship along your level.

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Written by jamalais

December 31, 2015 at 3:00 pm

Podcast: Taito Legends

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This week Fred is joined by James (@Jamalais) to discuss the arcade classics released by Taito in the 1980s.  They cover the company’s history and many of the staple titles like Space Invaders, Jungle Hunt, Zoo Keeper, Bubble Bobble, Darius, Rainbow Islands, and Rastan.  Return to one of the arcade pioneers of gaming’s golden years.

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Please note: In the show Jam refers to a review for Rainbow Islands that was very close to him.  That review can be read, unedited, here.  (It is in an open document type, so I recommend using Google Docs to view.)

Written by Fred Rojas

February 5, 2014 at 12:24 pm

Darius Series (Taito)

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Of all the shmups I mention this month, the toughest to actually play the way it is intended will be Darius (pronounced “dah-rai-us”).   This title premiered in arcades in 1986 by developer Taito and featured a super wide 3-screen arcade cabinet.  The first monitor would be centered like you’re used to, but the other two would be at slight angles on either side, using mirrors to create one straight wide view.  As a result the way you play the game is completely different because there’s a lot more to see coming and going around you.  Nowadays you could do a decent job emulating it on widescreen televisions, but no one has decided to do it yet.  Because of this visual mode it doesn’t work all that great on MAME and I highly recommend trying one of the home ports or later arcade ports, which were designed around 4:3 televisions.

Sample screen from original arcade format of Darius

Darius isn’t only significant for having a super wide screen resolution, otherwise it would have died in obscurity as a one-off coin-op.  It breaks the mold of the traditional shmup in many ways, including the fact that the player picks which level to play next.  Much like Castlevania III it is impossible to see all 28 levels in one playthrough, in fact you will only see 7 in any one completion, but eventually you can piece together every level.  Seafood haters out there will also note the interesting crustacean look to the enemies in the series.  Your ship, the Silver Hawk, comes equipped with a cannon, bombs/missiles for ground attacks and a force field, all of which are upgraded by, you guessed it, power-up items dropped by destroyed enemies.  Each level ends in a boss battle, although the size of the bosses isn’t quite the scale as I was used to with other shmups.

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Written by Fred Rojas

March 10, 2012 at 12:00 pm