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A.P.I Review: G-Darius
Developer: Taito OPTIONS: S.SHOT
No.1   No.2   No.3
Distributor: THQ 1-2 Player
Game Type: Side Scrolling Shooter Memory Card
Review Date: October 1998 Dual Shock

Setting the Scene

The Darius series has been popular in Japan for a number of years. Obviously killing giant robotic fish and lobsters is something many Japanese game players find significantly exciting. Despite the usual (and pretty weak) attempt at a story line all G-Darius boils down to is shooting big metal fish and various assorted other flying bad guys.

The developers have taken the time to make up a cover story for this shooter so I suppose I should make an effort to explain it. Apparently, long ago during a massive space war a planet disappeared which triggered the spawning of several new species of space-going sea creatures. For some reason these creatures decided it would be fun to wander around the universe destroying everything.

This is where you come in. Your space navy is in the process of being destroyed by these creatures and they are about to make the final killing blow. Armed with a brand new shinny 'Silver Hawk' craft (created by using similar technology from the creatures themselves) you must fight to stop them as you are the only hope of the Universe.

G-Darius is a giant blast-fest filled with all manner of bad guys, huge bosses, colorful and varied levels and background. It seems that the shooter genre is experiencing a small comeback, with Einhander, Viper and N2O being released in the last few months. Fans of this style have certainly had plenty to keep them busy. Has G-Darius got what it takes to join the ranks of these quality shooters or is it just another eye candy sprite festival?


At its' core, G-Darius is a 2D scrolling shooter. However, it may have invented it's own new genre by adding significant 3D elements to the traditional genre, let's call it a 2D/3D side (and diagonal, backwards, horizontal, rear-view) scrolling shooter.


Having played the original Darius (and more recently Darius 2) it is obvious that Taito decided that the series need a significant face lift, and they have done so quite well.

Graphically G-Darius is leaps ahead of the other games. Background and foreground are all rendered in full 3D with rich and varied textures while the enemies are equally 3D and well rendered in multiple colors and textures. Many other game elements are also polygonal, in fact the only elements in the game that are not created with polygons are the projectiles that the enemy seems so intent on flinging at you at high speeds.

The FMV intro is short and cartoony but impressive and goes part of the way to tell the Darius 'story', there is also a movie collection area that allows you to play back all of the in-game movies at any time. Most of the in-game movies are polygon rendered and not FMV, but at least they are colorful and impressive.

The only obvious flaw in the visuals is a significant amount of slowdown at certain times during the game. Apparently this is a Darius trademark and could be seen as an attempt at giving the game an 'artistic' bent. It's a feature not a bug. Be that as it may, it's still slowdown and some people may find it annoying. It's fairly rare though and doesn't really interfere with gameplay in a significant way, so it can be ignored.

Sounds and Effects

For a shooter, there are a lot of shooting sounds in G-Darius. In fact there are 257 unique sound effects in the game. Nothing remarkable about them... they simply serve a purpose.

The music is another matter altogether. Without resorting to hiring a famous techno outfit, rock band or long haired guitarist, Taito have done a good job of adding an interesting mix of musical styles to the game. The Darius series seem to be trademarked with an operatic/orchestral musical style, a haunting mix of Viking music and violin twanging. Strangely enough, this works quite well in G-Darius, add a small amount of techno/electronic music to the mix and the music stand quite well to keep your heart and finger pumping at the same rate.


With a healthy supply of enemy polygons to blow to kingdom come and no shortage of power-ups to beef up your arsenal this is a full on rollercoaster ride. G-Darius has several gaming modes, namely, arcade, beginner and vs boss. Using the options screen you can also customize game settings such as he number of ships you begin with, continues and the game difficulty for each of the game modes.

Beginner mode differs from Arcade in that you have the chance to actually choose the level of power-ups that your ship begins with. Starting with a new ship and massive power-ups strapped on makes the game significantly easier. Beginner mode is a bit of a cake-walk, so seasoned gamers will want to get right into Arcade mode.

Arcade is the primary game mode for G-Darius. The main method of play in this mode is, of course, to shoot the enemy before they shoot you. It's not really as simple as that, the gameplay has a series of twists, the first of which is your ability to 'capture' the enemy ships and use them for your own purposes.

You are issued with a number of 'capture balls', which you can use to seize the enemy. Once captured the enemy ships take position next to, or around your ship and fight on your behalf. Each type of enemy ship has different abilities and firing patterns, some simply sit close to your ship providing a shield while others take a more active role and provide covering fire or engage their old allies with Kamikaze attacks. With a little patience and practice it is also possible to capture the minor bosses that appear occasionally within a level. Once captured these bosses provide you with awesome firepower, truly a sight to be seen.

Other power-ups are also available, from simple shields to the traditional primary weapon boosters which simply increases the width and potency of your main weapon or additional ones that enhance your missile firing capabilities.

At the end of each level you must destroy a huge Boss. Bosses are usually giant fish or crustaceans with names such as Queen Fossil and Eight Feet Umbrella (where do they get them from?). When I say huge I mean huge. Most of the bosses span across multiple screens and you must dodge incoming fire while working your way around the mass of the Boss in order to find it's vulnerable spots. In some cases the Boss battles take longer to complete than the level does. The bosses are all colorful and fully 3D, multi sided and all explode very well.

As you fight your way through the game you perspective will change many times. Your ship will change direction and orientation, the direction of travel will vary from left to right, right to left, even diagonally. When you get to the Boss you will be required to move around it in all directions in order to gain the best angle of attack. All these variables add to the interesting environment on G-Darius and guarantee that you remain on constant alert.

The two player mode is identical to the one player mode except for the fact that you have twice the firepower. This also means that you have someone else chewing up your continues so make sure you pick your partners well.

A few other nice touches within the game are Dual Shock support and the Vs Boss mode. The Dual Shock support is well done and you get the occasional jolt from the controller when you get hit (which actually assist you in playing the game) or when a major boss bites the big one. The vs Boss mode is a nice little touch that allows you to get straight into the boss battles without bothering with the in-zone enemies. Probably only really useful for practice but it is definitely a new and different feature for shooters.

Overall the playability of G-Darius is excellent, between the huge bosses, cool and colorful environments and multiple and interesting power-ups it is an brilliant example of a scrolling shooter.

Value for Money

In general shooters and value for money are somewhat of an oxymoron... they rarely go hand in hand. Shooters generally have limited appeal and I really don't see G-Darius being any different, however, this does have a few things going for it.

The main thing that increases the value of G-Darius if the 2 player games. Shooting the hell out of a bunch of polygons is fun, but doing it with a friend is twice the fun. The game is also made up of 15 levels, or Zones, at the end of each Zone you get to decide which one to proceed to next. Each Zone is split up into 2 sub-zones, also with the decision of which sub-zone to go to be made by the player. At the end of each Zone there is also a huge boss, 15 of these bosses each one at the end of a different path means that if you only play through the game once you will have only seen only a small percentage of what the game has to offer.

This is probably what gives G-Darius its' replayability, if you want to see and destroy every boss you will have to progress through the game at least 5 times.

GRAPHICS: 18/20 I like shooters. I like seeing big gobs of colored plasma fly across the screen and light up the enemy. I like getting blisters from hitting the controller at an incredible rate. I Like big explosions and I like big power-ups. G-Darius has all these elements, so I like G-Darius.

Don't expect a lot of depth in gameplay, don't expect a cerebral journey of puzzles and thoughtful insights, don't expect too much from this game and you'll enjoy yourself. As usual with games in this genre, your mileage may vary. As I've stated, I love shooters, they're a good escape into a mindless shoot-fest. Some people don't like that, fair enough, don't play them.

As shooters go, is Einhander is excellent, G-Darius is above average, graphically not as stunning, but playability is enhanced by the two player option. Still, I recommend a hire before you buy approach since this game won't keep many people interested for too long.
SOUND: 7/10
VALUE: 12/20


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