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Game Info:

Darius Cozmic Collection Console
Developed By: TAITO Corporation
Published By: ININ Games
Released: June 16, 2020
Available On: Nintendo Switch; PlayStation 4; various classic consoles like SNES, Genesis, and TurboGrafx 16
Genre: Shoot 'em up
ESRB Rating: E10+ for Fantasy Violence
Number of Players: 1-2 local with online leaderboards
Price: $59.99

Thank you ININ Games for sending us this game collection to review!

Back in the early 1990s, there were several really popular side-scrolling shoot 'em up game series. I was probably most familiar with Gradius and R-Type at the time, but I also remember playing a few others as well. I'm not sure if I played Darius or not back in the day, but picking it up now, these are games that play well and are quite enjoyable, if not a bit difficult. This collection spans just a few years, with the oldest game released in 1990, and the latest 1993.

The basic format of the games should be somewhat familiar to fans of the genre. You fly left to right, blasting enemies out of the sky with either your blaster, bombs, or both. You can collect various orbs that enemies drop to make your weapons stronger, which can help them do more damage or cover more area (or perhaps both). There are also pickups that grant you shields so you can take more than one hit before you die. You fight bosses at the end of each level, to make sure you're skilled enough to tackle what's next. Many games use this format, but this one is not without differentiators.

One simple thing that is hard to miss is the enemy design. Many of the more powerful enemies, bosses included, tend to strongly resemble fish or other aquatic creatures. I'm not sure why that's the case, but it certainly is. Another, more important difference, is replayability. Unlike many games where you simply go from one level to the next, many of these offer branching paths, where you can choose which level you wish to play next out of a list. Some games have the branches merge at certain points, while others seem to offer a full set of differing levels based on your choices. This tweak to the simpler formula of the other mentioned shoot 'em up titles is welcomed and really buoys replayability for anyone looking to get the most out of these games.

Darius Cozmic Collection Console
Highlights:

Strong Points: Excellent emulation of some classic shoot 'em up games; nice new added features like save states, replays, online leaderboards, and additional competitive games modes
Weak Points: Really pricey for what's on offer
Moral Warnings: You shoot at bad guy aliens that sometimes look like fish

There are two collections available; one for the arcade titles, and one for the console ones. This is the console collection. It's interesting, because you can clearly see the strengths and weaknesses of each console that they were released on while playing the games therein. For example, you have a single Sega Master System title, which honestly is the weakest game (understandably). Then you have the PC Engine a.k.a. TurboGrafx 16 titles, Darius Plus and Darius Alpha. The latter is noted to have been a limited release of which only 800 were made. Sadly, Super Darius, which is mentioned as an upgraded version of Darius Plus which was released on Turbo CD, is not included. What's most interesting about these games is the notably lesser color palette along with the incredibly fast pace. These titles are intense! Also, Darius Alpha is the single game with the most added to it - there are three additional modes with online leaderboards, which includes a score attack mode, a time attack mode, and a 4 minute time trial mode.

The Sega Genesis/Mega Drive title (along with the single Master System port) is Darius II, along with its Western game, Sagaia. It's fairly slow paced compared to the others, but it plays well and the FM music sounds great. It handles a lot of enemies, and backgrounds have some trippy effects, and overall it's my favorite title out of the games included. There are both the Japanese and US releases included; the Japanese one is the basis for the online enhanced version called 'special mode' with leaderboards. The Master System version is more of a curiosity than anything I would expect most people to play, though I will say it seems to be a bit faster-paced than its technically superior counterpart.

Darius Cozmic Collection Console
Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 78%
Gameplay - 14/20
Graphics - 8/10
Sound - 7/10
Stability - 5/5
Controls - 5/5

Morality Score - 94%
Violence - 7/10
Language - 10/10
Sexual Content - 10/10
Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

The two SNES releases are Darius Twin, and Darius Force (Japanese) or its Western title, Super Nova. These both look really nice, though if I had to pick one, Darius Twin seems like the better title, if for no other reason than you immediately respawn when you die rather than having to restart the level like they make you do in Darius Force/Super Nova. Both have nice graphics, plenty of bad guys on screen at once, and more complex music using the more advanced sound chip on the SNES. Even so, I'd still probably give the nod to the Genesis game because the FM synth of that one somehow just feels right with action games like this. Darius Force, the Super Famicom (Japanese) release is the title used for the enhanced release with the boss endurance mode added.

If you like shoot 'em up games, there is a lot to like in this Darius Cozmic Collection Console edition. What is harder to swallow is the price tag. If you combine together the various ports and releases into one game each, there are basically five titles here (six if you separate out the Sega Master System version). For the full retail price of $59.99, the value proposition is in the eye of the beholder. They are offering a separate arcade collection, which has four titles (7 total versions provided), that I have not had the opportunity to review at this time. That collection is $44.99. If you want both the console and arcade game collections, for the (nearly) complete Darius experience, prepare to drop over $100.

Outside of the potential value proposition, the Darius Cozmic Collection Console edition is a pretty good collection. Morally, there is little more to worry about than shooting various technological or aquatic creatures. With that said, these are a good challenge, and I didn't see a way to 'cheat' like many modern collections offer, so if you do decide to play these, be prepared to 'get good'.

About the Author

Jason Gress

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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