Tag Archives: Shoot ’em ups

Darius Plus

Reviews
Darius Plus - Title Screen
PC Engine
09/21/1990 (Japan)
ダライアスプラス
This second port of arcade shooter Darius was based on the PC Engine CD Super Darius (the first home port ever, released 6 months prior to this one), from the same developer and publisher. Being on a standard HuCard instead of a CD, this was obviously the Darius port for those who couldn't afford or just didn't have a PC Engine CD, so a lot more technical limitations were at play here than for Super Darius. But the results of this port are pleasantly surprising. Continue Reading

Super Darius

Reviews
Super Darius - Title Screen
PC Engine CD
03/16/1990 (Japan)
スーパーダライアス
It took four years from the release of the arcade version of Darius before this first port appeared on the PC Engine CD. It took only just about a year for Gradius to make it from the arcade to the Famicom, but there isn't much debating that Darius was much more of a challenge technically to port. Its unique three monitor setup and emphasis on the soundtrack almost guaranteed that a port wouldn't be able to hold up. Naturally that sort of long display setup couldn't be replicated on any home hardware at the time, so the solution was to zoom in the graphics quite a bit, making the sprites bigger but the field of play smaller. The larger sprites definitely look nice, and from a visual perspective the graphics hold up well against the original. The problem is that the game was designed with a wider field of play in mind, so zooming that in and reducing it really has a big impact on how the game plays. Continue Reading

Darius

Reviews
Darius (Arcade) Title Screen
Arcade
1986 (Japan)
ダライアス
The Darius arcade cabinet Darius certainly wasn't the first horizontally scrolling shooter, or probably even the first that comes to mind for most people. It wasn't even the first shooter from developer/publisher Taito. But it was one of the most innovative, and that's mostly because of the arcade hardware involved. Much like Taito's own The Ninja Warriors one year later, Darius was housed in a sprawling setup: Three either 19 or 15 inch monitors (later the 15 inch version would be the only one still in production), a "body-sonic" seat with speakers beneath it to make the player really feel the music, and even a headphone jack (not a common feature on arcade games at this point). Even with modern arcade hardware, it's very rare for a cabinet to be so focused on presenting both a superior audio and visual experience. Continue Reading

Gradius

Reviews
Gradius (Arcade) - Title Screen
Arcade
05/29/1985 (Japan), 1985 (US), 09/1985 (PAL)
グラディウス
Nemesis
Gradius (originally titled "Choujikuu Fighter Gradius") wasn't the first shoot 'em up to grace arcades with its presence, in fact many big names came before it. Space Invaders, Xevious, Galaxian, Ozma Wars, and even western titles like Asteroids and Defender all came first. So why was Gradius significant? Not only did it introduce several "characters" that would reoccur throughout the Konami universe (The very ship that you control called the Vic Viper, Moai heads, etc), but because it fleshed out the details of exactly what the average horizontal shoot 'em up would become: A game about strict power-up management, and pattern observation/memorization, and reaction. This may sound negative, but shoot 'em up fans (myself included) have long since embraced what the genre is, and they really have Gradius to thank for making it that way. Continue Reading

Gradius

Reviews
Famicom/NES
04/25/1986 (Japan), 12/1986 (US), 11/30/1988 (PAL)
グラディウス
Nearly one year after the original, Gradius finally came home to the Famicom/NES. This home port does as respectable of a job as a Famicom game can of replicating the look and feel of the original. Sure you don't get the Big Core boss rising directly from the ashes of whatever thing came before it, or the full depth of music found in the arcade version, but at least this is a game that looks good and still has the original music scaled down for the Famicom. Continue Reading