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Game Info:

Dariusburst: Another Chronicle EX+
Developed By: TAITO Corporation
Published By: ININ Games
Released: July 27, 2021
Available On: Nintendo Switch; PlayStation 4
Genre: Shoot 'em up
ESRB Rating: E10+ for Fantasy Violence
Number of Players: 1-4 local with online leaderboards
Price: $39.99
(Amazon Affiliate Link)

Thank you Taito for sending us this game to review!

After reviewing the arcade collection of Darius games from last year, I fell in love with the series, and did something I rarely do: I bought Dariusburst: Chronicle Saviors (I'll sometimes abbreviate it as CS) on Steam, despite not having to review it. Even on sale it wasn't exactly cheap, but I enjoyed the series so much, I wanted to support the developer. Once I played the game I purchased, I knew it was the right call –- it has a ton of content, plays great, and looks super sharp at 4K. Color me surprised that when I went to review this game, I realized I'd played much of it already!

What happened is that Chronicle Saviors includes 'AC Mode', which is the entirety of the Dariusburst: Another Chronicle EX (non-+) version of the game inside the Dariusburst: Chronicle Saviors package. Three out of four of the game modes that EX+ offers are included with CS. So, if you already own Chronicle Saviors, you have to decide if the new Event Mode is worth repurchasing the game for. Alternatively, Chronicle Saviors has more content, but at a higher price. Which version to get is up to you. (Note: Chronicle Saviors is not on Switch.)

Dariusburst: Another Chronicle, and its re-releases have an interesting history. First was Dariusburst for PSP. Unfortunately it was only released in Japan back in 2009. (This game was eventually re-released on Android and iOS as Dariusburst: Second Prologue.) Approximately a year later, the Arcade game Another Chronicle was released in Japan (it came to the US a year later) and greatly expanded on Dariusburst (and likely made it more difficult; gotta munch those quarters). About a year after that (2011 if you're keeping track) Dariusburst: Another Chronicle EX came to Arcades. In 2015, the Chronicle Saviors version (that includes Another Chronicle EX) came to PS Vita, PS4, and Windows via Steam. However, this Switch/PS4 release, EX+, is the very first time that all of the features of the Arcade version, including the time-limited Events are all included.

Dariusburst: Another Chronicle EX+
Highlights:

Strong Points: Faithful reproduction of the arcade experience with lots of extras; an excellent game for shooter fans; first time we get to play Event Mode; ultra-widescreen view is awesome for this kind of game
Weak Points: Graphics are kind of pixelated on Switch; arguably better package available (at a higher price) in Dariusburst: Chronicle Saviors on PlayStation 4 and PC
Moral Warnings: You shoot at bad guy aliens that sometimes look like fish

So, for those not familiar with Darius, in short it's a side-scrolling shoot 'em up where the level (generally) scrolls left to right, where your spaceship shoots down enemy spaceships (and space fish) with blasters, missiles, and a few other attacks to save the human race. Some levels have just a few visible enemies, while others have dozens on the screen at once. Darius was also an early pioneer in ultra-widescreen gaming; the first arcade game had three CRT monitors all projected onto a single screen using a combination of projection and mirrors. Future games used some combination of 1-3 screens, though the series stopped using multiple screens after 1994. Thankfully, with Another Chronicle and the invention of LCD screens, they used a dual widescreen monitor setup to once again get that ultra-widescreen view, which is awesome. There's no other way to put it - I absolutely love the crazy ultra-wide aspect ratio of this game. Thankfully it's all included - even on Switch. If you find the enemies too small to see (not an issue I experienced, even on a handheld switch - but it could be if you are far from a smaller TV) you can press a button on the controller and it will zoom in. Just realize that stuff can happen that you might not see!

The game is fully 3D rendered, with a side perspective 2D view; this is a graphical style often called 2.5D. Interestingly, the rendering resolution is low enough that pixels can be easily seen on screen; apparently this was also the case on the original Arcade. (I haven't seen the Arcade or PS4 version, so I can't compare them with this Switch one, where pixels are easy to see.) Despite this, the game looks decent enough, with good sound and music to keep things pumping while you blast enemy space aliens away. The frame rate is solid, which is far more important on a game like this than resolution. I really enjoyed all of the time I spent with Dariusburst: Another Chronicle EX+. You can watch my first time playing on this stream here: 

Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 90%
Gameplay - 18/20
Graphics - 8/10
Sound - 9/10
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

Like many games of this genre, some enemies drop weapon, missile, and shield powerups. Thankfully, they stick around when you die – it can take many pickups worth of upgrades before you get powerful, so this is a big relief. There is also a charge meter (depending on the ship you choose) where you can charge a powerful blast to do tons of damage to a boss, or clear the screen of lots of enemies. Some bosses have certain attacks where they shoot a bright beam that is generally instant death if touched. If you can get the timing right, you can perform a Burst Counter, where your beam counters their powerful blast for insane damage against that boss. I know it's possible to do in this game, but it's not easy to get right, and takes practice. I haven't pulled one off in this game yet.

There are four game modes available. The first is simply 'Original Mode' – these are the original levels, where you start by picking one of three (the farther down the harder) and at the end of each level, you choose which of two levels to play after that. Top levels are always easier, and bottom ones more difficult. Once you've mastered this mode, a harder 'Original EX Mode' is also available to challenge you. These levels follow a similar formula to the Original levels, but these are much harder. It's nice that the game makes it clear what to expect when it comes to challenge on each of these game modes.

After this there is 'Chronicle Mode', where you select a star system, and then choose an area to liberate. Some have various objectives that you have to complete. I counted around fifty systems to complete. If that wasn't enough, you also have sometimes dozens of objectives to complete per system. It's honestly insane, and can easily keep you busy for quite a long time.

The final set of activities, and what is completely new to this EX+ release, is 'Event Mode'. In the original Arcade, thirteen challenges were available for a fairly short time frame – typically for only a week or two – and these are all now available for any player for the first time. Also, there are eight new EX+ events unique to this game. Each of these events are either time or score attack based, where you are aiming for a target time or score, and some have other limitations like what ship to use.

There are eight total ships available in EX+, and each is subtly different. I haven't fully explored all of the nuances of them all, but from what I understand, many come from older games, so their attacks resemble the ship from that game. In some cases, special attacks, like the Burst Beam, might be altered or replaced depending on the ship. The Origin Silver Hawk, for example, lacks a Burst Beam entirely, but in its place it gets a more powerful normal blaster. Each ship does play slightly differently, so it can be fun to figure out which one's your favorite.

Like many games in the Darius series, this one supports simultaneous local multiplayer. You can play with up to four friends at once – and it's awesome. If you enjoy cooperative play with lots of enemies to blow up, I'm sure you'll appreciate how easy it is for friends to join.

Dariusburst: Another Chronicle EX+ is a fine addition to the Darius series, and a great game for any shoot 'em up fan. I enjoyed it immensely playing solo – and with friends it's even better. Morally it's squeaky clean, unless blowing up aliens that look like spaceships (or space fish) is a problem for you. While the $39.99 asking price may seem steep, when you consider all of the game modes available, it's really a reasonable asking price for a game that keeps on giving. If anything, if you play games on a PS4 or Windows PC, your choice is harder – Chronicle Saviors costs more, but you get a lot more content, too. That game's CS Mode includes 186 additional levels, on top of the entire AC EX game (as mentioned, the Event Mode levels are not present). If you don't have access to a PS4 or PC, and only game on a Switch, then it's a no brainer – Dariusburst: Another Chronicle EX+ is a ton of fun to play, and worth every penny. Highly recommended!

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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