Darius

For: Arcade

Genres

Main Genre:
Action
Perspective:
3rd-Person
Setting:
Sci-Fi / Futuristic
Visual Presentation:
Scrolling (Horizontal or Vertical)
Gameplay Style:
Shooter

Overview

Darius is a horizontally scrolling shooter first released in arcades in 1987 by Taito and is the first game in the long running Darius Series.

Gameplay

Darius is a horizontally scrolling shooter for one player or two players simultaneously. Players control Silver Hawk class spaceships, player 1's ship is called the Proco and player 2's the Tiat (together they happen to be Taito Corp spelled backwards). The goal is to safely make it through 7 zones, each guarded by numerous enemy spacecraft, ground fighters, missiles, and many other obstacles. Opponents come in various sizes and strengths, with some being easily destroyed with a single shot and others taking multiple shots. The terrain in the zones varies; some are more open with only a cave floor to avoid, while others have walls at the top and bottom of the screen (and in some cases can have very narrow sections to fly through).

The Silver Hawk is equipped with three main types of defenses, each of which can be upgraded by collecting spheres that appear after shooting certain opponents. Red spheres upgrade the Silver Hawks forward firing capability, Green spheres upgrade bombing capability, and blue spheres increase shield power. Weapons and shields can each be upgraded 7 times, after which the meter drops back to 0 and a new weapon type is earned. When a player loses a life, weapons upgrades are lost and reverted to the lowest level of the weapon type. In addition to the three weapons and defense upgrade spheres, silver and gold bonus spheres also can be found occasionally; the silver sphere provides additional points while the gold sphere destroys all of the enemies currently on the screen.

Each zone in Darius ends with a large battleship (as the end of the zone is reached, the game famously informs players "WARNING! A HUGE BATTLESHIP [ship name - zone] IS APPROACHING FAST.", a convention that remains in all of the later Darius games). The end of zone battleships in Darius are large, mechanical spaceships, however they have a strong resemblance to marine life such as various types of fish, sharks, squid, crabs, and more (The aquatic theme is also used in later Darius games as well). Each battleship has multiple weapon types as well as certain points where it is vulnerable. While battles with the end of level battles have no time limit, they become more difficult the longer it takes players to defeat the battleship. After an amount of time has passed, box shaped opponents begin to appear. At first they stay low near the cave floor and soon begin to follow the player more aggressively. These opponents can be destroyed, though more keep appearing.

A feature unique to Darius (and later it's sequels) was the ability to choose one of two paths at the end of each level (referred to as zones in the game). After the end of level boss is defeated, the cave will split into two paths allowing players to choose which zone appears next. There are 28 zones in total, however completing the game from start to finish in a single run only allows 7 zones to be played; in order to see all 28 zones players need to play the game multiple times and select different paths (A map on the front of the arcade cabinet shows the possible paths that can be taken). The game features multiple endings as well depending on which of the final zones players end up reaching.

Display

Arcade version of Darius
Arcade version of Darius
Darius featured an unusual display configuration consisting of three CRT monitors. A two-way mirror was used to align the three images without gaps; the screens on the left and the right were facing upwards with the mirror reflecting the image and the center screen was behind the mirror facing forward. This gave the illusion of a single, very wide screen. Taito used this technique in several games following Darius as well including Darius sequels and The Ninja Warriors. When the game was ported to home systems (called Darius+ or Super Darius depending on the version) the game was modified to fit on a single screen.

Pictures

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Arcade Version

Related Games

Marketing

Product catalogs, magazines, flyers, or other documentation Darius has appeared in.
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Arcade Flyers
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