Darius (video game)
|This article needs additional citations for verification. (April 2012)|
Bits Laboratory (PCE/CD)
|CPU||2x Motorola MC68000 @ 8 MHz|
|Sound||2x ZiLOG Z80 @ 4 MHz
2x Yamaha YM2203
|Display||Raster, horizontal orientation|
Darius (ダライアス Daraiasu?) is a shoot 'em up arcade game released by Taito in 1986. It is the first game in the Darius series. It is known for using a unique three-screen arcade cabinet setup, non-linear level design and multiple endings.
A port by Softek and The Edge was released for the Amiga and Atari ST titled Darius+. An expanded port by Bits Laboratory and NEC was released for the PC Engine's Super CD-ROM² titled Super Darius (スーパーダライアス Sūpā Daraiasu?). Another expanded port was made for the PC Engine itself, titled Darius Plus (ダライアス・プラス Daraiasu Purasu?), which is similar to the Amiga and Atari ST title. A boss rush version of Darius Plus was released under the name Darius Alpha (ダライアス・アルファ Daraiasu Arufa?).
Darius is a two-dimensional horizontally scrolling shoot 'em up set in a fictional future. Uniquely among shoot 'em ups, the game's screen is three times wider than conventional size, and the arcade cabinet uses an arrangement of three screens to accommodate it. The player controls an ornate fighter spacecraft, named the Silver Hawk, and must navigate through scrolling terrain while battling a variety of fighter craft, ground vehicles, turrets, and other obstacles throughout the game's stages (referred to as zones in the game). The ship's arsenal consists of forward-firing missiles, aerial bombs and a protective force field, all of which can be upgraded by power-ups (in the form of large, colored orbs) that are dropped by specially-colored enemies throughout the game's zones. When the player reaches the end of a zone, a boss appears, which must be defeated to proceed. Once the boss of a zone is destroyed, the player is given a choice of which zone to play next via a branching path. While there are 28 zones in total, only seven can be played in a single run.
Development and history
The arcade game features raster graphics on three CRT monitors and amplified stereophonic sound. In order to seamlessly connect the three screens together, two of the monitors, which display the first and last thirds of the game's screen, respectively, are placed in the bottom of the cabinet facing upwards, with their visuals reflected into view via a one-way mirror. The third monitor, which displays the middle portion of the game's screen, is placed behind the mirror and is the only one actually facing the player. The reflection of the two bottom monitors partially overlaps the third monitor, giving the illusion of a seamless wide screen.
The game's soundtrack was composed by Hisayoshi Ogura, the founding member of Taito's in-house music division Zuntata. Ogura composed the music with the concept of, "a large existence," that being the large bosses in the game and the expansiveness of the universe. The game's main theme, titled "Chaos", is notable for being one of the earliest examples of avant-garde in video game music. Ogura recalls,
|“||...For its time it was extremely avant-garde music. I assigned this piece the role of Darius's main theme. I'll have them hear something no one's ever heard in a game before! With these kinds of thoughts in mind, I composed a piece with the expressive scale of the beginning of the universe.||”|
—Hisayoshi Ogura, on composing the game's main theme "Chaos."
The first stage's theme, called "Captain Neo", is a reworked version of a song from an earlier arcade game by Taito, Metal Soldier Isaac II. When a prototype of Darius was exhibited at a trade show, the song was used as a temporary placeholder. However, upon hearing the song at the trade show, Ogura liked it and decided to keep it. "I was surprised by its overwhelming power," said Ogura, "so much that I could feel it in my bones." 
The iOS, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3 game Space Invaders Infinity Gene, also by Taito, includes an upgrade option to the same craft used in Darius, and has some of the same enemies. Darius R, a remake of the first Darius game with some different tunes and a fewer number of stages, was released for the Game Boy Advance in 2002.
- Greening, Chris (April 2011). "Interview with Hisayoshi Ogura". Square Enix Music Online. Retrieved 7 July 2011.
- Higham, Rupert (30 March 2014). "Darius retrospective". Eurogamer. Gamer Network. Retrieved 31 March 2014.
- "Darius". The International Arcade Museum. Retrieved 31 Oct 2013.
- Kurt Kalata. "Darius". Hardcore Gaming 101. Retrieved 2011-01-10.
- Wolf, Mark (2007). The Video Game Explosion: A History from PONG to PlayStation and Beyond. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press. p. 97. ISBN 978-0-313-33868-7.
- Darius at the Killer List of Videogames
- Maughan, Teresa (September 1987). "Slots of Fun". Your Sinclair (Dennis Publishing) (21): 81.
- Edgeley, Clare (March 1987). "Arcade Action". Computers and Video Games (65): 92.
- Darius - Taito Game Music Vol.2 (CD back cover). Zuntata. Japan: Alfa Records. 1987. back cover. 28XA-166.
- Darius - Taito Game Music Vol.2 (Vinyl back cover). Zuntata. Japan: Alfa Records. 1987. back cover. ALR-22912.
- Darius - Taito Game Music Vol.2 (Cassette back cover). Zuntata. Japan: Alfa Records. 1987. back cover. ALC-22912.
- "ZUNTATA OFFICIAL SITE "Z-Field" - アルバムラインアップ" (in Japanese). Taito. Retrieved 7 October 2011.