There was a time where if you had mentioned to me that you either had access to DariusBurst Another Chronicle, either via an arcade cabinet or by playing it on an iOS device, I would have given you a weird look. And not just any weird look, but the look that I wanted to steal your soul type of look as I really wanted a chance to try the game, just for once in my life. And with no access to either an iOS device or a Japanese PlayStation Portable, I was forced to merely watch videos of the game in action on Youtube.
That is until recently when Degica stated they were porting the game over to not just the PlayStation Vita, but also the PlayStation 4 and the real shocker, the PC. That’s all I needed to hear to get my shmup spirits lifted. Besides Darius, my other favorite shmups, Gradius and Thunderforce, were dead and buried, never to see the day of light again. And while Darius was still being carried on, its existence was always out of my reach, that is until now.
Game Name: DariusBurst Chronicle Saviours
Platform(s): PC, PS4, PS Vita
Multiplayer: 4 player local co-op
Developer(s): Pyramid, Chara-Ani
Release Date: Nov 30 2015 (PS Vita) Dec 2 2015 (PS4), Dec 3 2015 (PC)
Price: PC $49.99, PS4 $59.99, PS Vita $39.99
“Shoot-’em-up: a fast-moving story or movie, of which gunfire is a dominant feature. Also known as a shmup”
DBCS is technically two games in one, which I believe was done to not only bring home that arcade experience but also to build upon it. Within the game, you have the ability to choose between DariusBurst Another Chronicle or AC mode, which includes all of the original arcade modes and original arcade screen ratio (perfect for dual screen or wide-format monitors and DariusBurst Chronicle Saviors or CS mode, which is the updated version of the game.
While you’re free to choose either mode, there are a few differences. In AC mode you have access to the original arcade game modes; Original, Original EX Mode, Chronicle Mode, and Event Mode. Original (Easy, Normal and Hard) is what I call the starter zone while Original EX Mode is a tougher version, tailor-made for shmup experts (Expect, Extreme and Exceed). You know, the same people that are able to single credit an entire game.
Chronicle mode is what stands out here as you are presented with several different missions and objectives to complete, as the systems are broken up into several areas. And speaking of those objectives, they range anywhere from completing an area with just one credit, completing an area with multiple players, playing with a specific set of equipment and so forth. It’s a definite time sink that’s for sure. Thankfully you’re not the only one who’s doing this, as everyone around the world who plays this game can also contribute to the AC progression via cabinets.
And just like it sounds, a cabinet is a global progression save. For example, say everyone from a specific arcade was able to beat several areas, such as one of the specific multiplayer objectives. That objective would then contribute to unlocking more areas in the AC mode’s game, and everyone who is accessing that cabinet can benefit and contribute to that going forward. This allows access to literally hundreds of new levels and even exclusive AC mode only bosses that you likely wouldn’t unlock on your own. And for those wondering, yes this is basically the NESYS / NESiCAxLive Network being emulated at home.
Oh, and when I mention hundreds of levels, I actually meant thousands! Yes, Taito is boasting that Dariusburst Chronicle Saviours’ AC mode will include over 3000 total stages. So you’ll be playing this for quite some time.
No matter how you choose to play the game; Xbox 360, Xbox One, Dual Shock 4, Arcade Stick, as several other not very known controllers, you’ll be happy to know that the game supports just about every gamepad and joystick. I can attest to that myself as I’ve tested over 10 different configurations and were able to play the game with all of them. And yes, you can even play with the keyboard, if you want to that is. I don’t see why, but at least that option is available.
However, in CS mode, the game changes. Similar to the chronicle mode in AC, this is mode is also laid out in a manner that you have set paths to take after the first area is completed that is. And unlike AC mode where you can choose the next stage, once you start the area you’re stuck on until it’s completed. You’re also handicapped to an extent as you will find that some missions will not allow power-ups to drop as well as restrict you to a specific ship. However you won’t go into a mission blind as the overlay will tell you from the start what your ship will be, power up status, how many zones make up the area, and stage make-up. Another difference is that while you play CS mode, you accumulate points based on how well you do in the zones you play through.
Eventually, after accumulating enough points you can trade them in for a new ship which you can then outfit with lasers, bombs, and shielding. Using this tactic, you’re no longer forced to use the preset ship, which will make certain levels that may have seemed impossible before a total cake walk with the new ship. However there’s also a downside to this and every time you use that powered up ship, you will consume however many numbers of points you put into upgrading it. So you’ll have to track how much you have or if you start running low, to take off some of that added power or simply use the preset ship. It’s a nice method to keep you from overpowering your way to the end of the game.
Via every transition in CS mode, you’re provided pieces of the on-going story that you’re currently taking place in. And while CS mode isn’t as expansive as AC mode as it pales in comparison of possible stages (200+ vs 3000), it’s still a fun addition and more up-to-date take on the Darius shooter. Also worth noting that CS mode is a single player affair while AC mode will allow up to 4 players.
Do you want ships? Well you won’t be disappeared here, especially if you’re familiar with the Darius games as there’s a handful of them playable in-game; Gaiden, Assault, Next, Legend, Formula, Origin, Second, Genesis and one ship that isn’t related to the Darius universe, the Murakumo, which is a CS exclusive ship btw. Apparently, that ship hails from an older Taito game, one that I can’t quite figure out. And while it’s not directly related to the Darius ships of legend, the Murakumo is clearly a fantastic ship in its own right and is fun to play with, assuming you can afford the points required to pick it up. Fans of G-Darius may be slightly disappointed with the Genesis Silver Hawk as it does not feature its capture ball. It’s not a huge deal and it doesn’t detract from the game, but it would have been nice to see it included. Even still, there are subtle differences between the ships, so each one is unique in that retrospect.
If you’ve ever played a Darius title, then you should be familiar with how the game functions. You pick your ship and off you go, pretty straightforward stuff. Thankfully the controls of the game are very responsive, and while playing the game I didn’t have any issues as I dodge the incoming fire. That said if I died it was due to me slipping up instead of the game.
Each ship has access to a shield that protects the ships, front-facing weapons, and bombs, all of which are up-gradable by picking up the various power-ups that are available by shooting down enemies. Red powerups are for the weapons that you can constantly upgrade, which include several different tiers that have different properties ranging from narrow shots to wider and more powerful wave shot. Blue powerups for the shield that protects the ship and the green ones that increase the damage and properties of the missiles/bombs. In addition to that, you’re also able to take out enemies out from behind you by using the ships ability to turn and face the opposite direction. You simply hit the turn button and your ship turns, it’s that simple. While it works just fine, the animation is a bit lacking for me as I’d would have liked a more detailed animation, but that could also cost you a few seconds of precious times and I trust that Taito has the better judgment here.
Lastly, you have access to one more specific and kick-ass ability, the burst system. The burst system lets you build up energy by shooting down enemies, or in some specific AC/CS modes it will build up over time, to unleash a massive powerful beam attack. You’re able to utilize this in two ways; in a fixed position which can act as satellite or by holding down the mapped button, you can control the beam in a frontal attack that moves with you. Think of it as a giant laser that you control and if it sounds like fun, it is. Fun and satisfying. However not every ship has access to the burst system, keep that in mind if you want to use this exclusively.
Graphically both versions of the game are running at a solid 60 frames per second and I’ve tested this at 720p, 1080p, 1440p resolutions. It’s beautiful, fluid and silky smooth, even with the screen littered with countless enemies the game never skipped a beat. There is a difference in how both the AC and CS modes look. Since the AC mode is a direct emulation of the arcade version of DariusBurst Another Chronicle, the game is rendered in a widescreen format, where CS mode takes up the full screen and includes upgraded graphics such as the rendered 2.5d backgrounds that are scattered throughout the game.
Update: As of 2.27.2016, the widescreen issue has been corrected for AC mode. It now takes up the entire screen, instead of before. It’s a lot easier to see the game in action thanks to this fix.
Gamers with smaller screens may find that the AC mode is a bit harder to play with and optimally you’re going to want to play this on a dual screen setup, where possible that is or a larger format screen like a TV. Make no mistake, it’s still completely playable as I was able to enjoy the AC mode while on a 15-inch screen, however, in this case, bigger is better, yet again where possible. Both windowed and full-screen modes are available as well, and you’re able to scale all the way up to 3440 x 1440 and depending on your PC, still keep playing at 60 frames per second. I was even able to run the game on a dual-core AMD powered laptop with integrated GPU, while still hitting 60FPS, though it was only at 720p. That feat was pretty amazing for that laptop, which speaks about the optimization that went into this title.
And the music, Ah, the wonderfully haunting yet exciting music that Zuntata is the master of. Taito’s own in-house musical team has always set a high bar when it comes to the in-game music for their Darius titles and this one is no exception. And while there are fans who are split on the exclusive track “Freedom” that was made for the title, you can deny it’s genius, yet over the top “we’re marching into battle” battle cry. And while the game reuses a lot of familiar tracks from the Darius series, there are also several new tracks created directly for the title, in addition to Freedom.
And while the game doesn’t include a soundtrack test or any way to completely remove the sounds while you play the game, if you wanted to listen to the music only, there is hope. Slated for a release in January 2016, is a 20 track album entitled “DariusBurst Chronicle Saviours Soundtrack“.
For more information on that upcoming soundtrack, head on over to Zuntata’s official website. Sorry folks, I’m a huge fan of Zuntata’s music, so I had to plug that OST.
I for one am happy to see that someone had enough interest to bring the once exclusive arcade title over to the home platforms. Especially for the PC which hasn’t received the same amount of ports that the consoles have and MAME emulation. While more and more niche and obscure titles have been released on the PC, with more and more coming, it’s nice to see that Degica Games is helping with that charge
Now that DariusBurst Chronicle Saviours is completed, maybe be we can convince Degica to get some more titles ported over. Perhaps even the Ray series (RayForce, RayStorm, and RayCrisis).
* Review copy was provided by the publisher
A slice of heaven for shmup fans everywhere
Game title: DariusBurst Chronicle Saviours
Controller support, Steam cloud saves, 3000+ stages, 4 play co-op support, dual monitor and wide screen support and much much more. I can’t put this game down, it’s that much fun and it’s that good. For fans of the genre wondering if they should check this title out, there is no thinking… just do it. You won’t be disappointed at all.
Now that DariusBurst Chronicle Saviours is completed, maybe be we can convince Degica to get some more titles ported over. Perhaps even the Ray series (RayForce, RayStorm and RayCrisis).
- You definitely won’t be finishing this in one setting with 3000 stages
- Controls are tight and precise, exactly what we’ve come to expect from a Darius title
- 4 player local co-op is a nice addition, especially if you have people who love shmups to play with you
- 60 frames per second on even low-end PC’s is amazing
- As with most shmup, when the screen gets full of bullets and enemies, it’s hard to not take a hit or two
- Boss encounters tend to repeat themselves
- No online co-op
- No in-game sound test… NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!
- A DariusBurst machine in the comfort of my home? Hell Yes!