28th Sep2020

‘Darius Cozmic Collection Arcade’ Review (Nintendo Switch)

by Phil Wheat

The Darius series pioneered horizontal shoot ’em up games in the mid-to-late 80s and was developed by the legendary TAITO Corporation. The first Darius game wowed arcade going fans when it was released in 1986 with its dedicated dual-display cabinet, imaginative enemy designs and revolutionary sound design.

The first Darius is set in a futuristic 2D world, where the player pilots a Silver Hawk craft alone, or with a second player, and shoots their way through enemy hordes, navigating tricky terrain and battling giant robotic sea creatures. Armed with missiles, bombs and a forcefield, which can be powered up along the way, the players must defeat the alien invaders through a series of branching ‘zones’ to be victorious.

Numerous sequels and ports followed over the years, leading us to this, the Darius Cozmic Collection Arcade, a high-quality port with perfect performance – as one would expect from the retro game experts at M2 in Japan – of four titles from the Darius arcade series; with SEVEN different versions of the game across the four games: Darius (Arcade, original version), Darius (Arcade, new version), Darius (Arcade, extra version), Darius II (Arcade, Dual Screen version), Sagaia (Arcade, ver.1), Sagaia (Arcade, ver.2) and Darius Gaiden (Arcade).

Release by ININ Games, who are responsbile for bring the likes of Bubble Bobble 4 and Ninja Saviours: Return of the Warriors to the Switch, the Darius Cozmic Collection Arcade feels perfectly at home on the Nintendo Switch – especially given just how many retro-like shmups there are these days on Nintendo’s flagshiop console. But that’s the thing there a SO MANY shoot ’em-ups on the Switch that is takes something truly special to make titles stand out.

Unfortunately, unless you have fond memories of Darius and its many sequels (more of which are due to be released on the Switch soon), this collection of old-school shooters doesn’t really feel all that special – even though in the history of the genre it is unescapebly special. This issue? Ports of old-school shmups always seem slow and cumbersome when compared to new iterations… even of the same video game series!

There’s also the issue that the Darius games were multiple-screen affairs, really making the most of the screen real esate. Here? Well in the case of Darius (originally a 3-screen set-up arcade game) we’re playing on only one-third of the screen, a long mid-screen bar which re-creates those 3 screens; and even in docked mode the sprites are so tiny that it’s hard to see what’s going on. And, obviously, it’s even worse in handheld mode. Which means that of the four games included in this collection only Darius Gaiden – made in 1994, in a single-screen set-up) feels truly playable in both handheld and docked modes.

Don’t get me wrong, the Darius Cozmic Collection Arcade – and it’s partner Darius Cozmic Collection Console, a collection of Darius console ports from over the years – is a welcome addition to any shmup fans collection. Only it feels more like a collectors item, a slice of gaming history, rather than a truly playable shmup classic.

Darius Cozmic Collection Arcade is available on the Nintendo eShop now. Darius Cozmic Revelation, a collection of the 3D Darius games G-DARIUS HD and DARIUSBURST Another Chronicle EX+, will be released physically on Nintendo Switch as a Limited and Collector’s Edition from Strictly Limited Games.


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