Mega Drive Darius: Have Fun With This Historical What-If of a Port

Mega Drive Darius - Toyama and Ishikawa
Magazine: Famitsu
Publish Date: 10/03/2019

Yuuichi Toyama (Taito Development Division 2, Development Department, left)
Katsuhisa Ishikawa (Taito Development Division 1, Head of Sound Department, right)

What were each of you doing when Darius first came out?

(Toyama) I would have been working on Thunder Force III at Technosoft around then. I was responsible for game development on the MSX, but was very jealous of the capabilities of arcade hardware (Laughs) I played Darius quite a bit and everything about it astounded me, including the three screen cabinet.

(Ishikawa) I was still in high school. I remember thinking what an amazing game Darius was when it rattled the windows of the old shop I used to play it in, with the huge sound it put out from the Body Sonic system (Laughs)

And now you’re porting this title that you each have such fond memories of. Did you run into any unexpected issues?

(Toyama) Since this port is going to make the game into a bit of a show piece again, one of our requirements was to make it of the highest quality. The Darius Cozmic Collection that we released back in February of this year was a tremendous help in doing this. Before that and since Darius Burst, we hadn’t been doing much of anything with the series. If this had come up during that period, there’s a good possibly we wouldn’t have been able to get anyone to oversee this project and so it just wouldn’t have happened.

(Ishikawa) I can only speak to the sound aspect of it, but this port was less of a data conversion and more recreating things from scratch. Despite that, the game was almost perfect, judging from the data that we got sent over to us. Darius and the Mega Drive both use the same family of FM sound chips. But even so, I was surprised at how close they managed to get it.

The quality was just that high.

(Ishikawa) I thought at the beginning that this was going to be an easy task. But I had to resort to nitpicking tiny little things since the port was so complete, which made it tough (Laughs) I did all this nitpicking while I was going back and forth with Yousuke Okunari at Sega Games, who had arranged for the development to happen. It was checked over by Masato Nishimura at Sega Interactive at the same time, and he put things on the check sheet that I didn’t catch. So it was like we were both competing to be the most nitpicky (Laughs)

What kind of nitpicks?

(Ishikawa) All extremely detailed things, for example noticing that a specific drum fill wasn’t the same as the original when I was checking over the music. Also the sound in this Darius port is all from data, and not streaming. I think it turned out really well.

You held a Mega Drive special for the May 31st episode of the YouTube monthly streaming program “Zuntata Night”, right?

(Toyama) This port of Darius was scheduled to be announced during one of Sega’s broadcasts on June 4th so we were at a bit of a disadvantage broadcasting early…

(Ishikawa) Wanting to talk about it but not being able to was very tough (Laughs)

(Toyama) We perpetuated the rumor that maybe we were going to be including Darius II. Looking back on it, I think that brought about a different kind of enjoyment (Laughs)

Now that you’re able to talk about it, is there anything you’d like to tell fans of the series?

(Toyama) Please enjoy this historical what-if of a new port of Darius, as though it had really come out on the Mega Drive. There’s a working version of the original arcade game at Taito’s HEY arcade in Akihabara, so it would be great if younger people who are interested would take that as an opportunity to step into the world of Darius.

(Ishikawa) This is a very high quality port that realizes these previously difficult levels anew. The music of Darius that OGR (Hisayoshi Ogura, formerly of Zuntata) composed was the origin of Zuntata, so it would make us very happy if younger people would use this to explore the history of Zuntata as well.