Hands up who knows what Darius means? I know because I'm a fund of information. (He looked it up in the dictionary. Ed) The answer's really boring as it happens, but I'm going to tell you anyway because I'm in a bit of an annoying mood.
Darius was a bloke. Not just your average bloke though - he was King of Persia (in about 500 BC), and what the old scallywag is famous for is that he invaded Greece... and lost! What a clot. So, what's Darius the computer game all about then? Is it based on the invasion of Greece 500 years before the little baby Jesus was born? Nope, I don't think so actually. (Unless the Persian army had a spaceship that collected power-up icons, and the battle against the ancient Greeks was waged in the far reaches of interstellar space.)
No, Darius isn't a game of historical conquest, it is in fact a horizontally-scrolling shoot-'em-up. A coin-op conversion, to be precise. So what's it like then? Well how on earth should I know? I haven't played it yet. Come back in a few hours and I'll have a getter idea (go and have a bath or something ). Toodlepip!
Right. Now I can tell you about Darius. Um, Darius was the king of Persia in about 500 BC. (Oh no, not AGAIN. Ed) This Darius, however, is a game akin to R-Type - but don't get too excited, because it's not half as good! The setting is the same sort of thing as R-Type. You know, backgrounds that continually scroll from the right and mustn't be banged into, nasties that bob up and down and come at you from all sides, the obligatory add-ons to the ship which make it really funky and deadly and the absolutely gigantic end-of-level nasties. That sort of gear. Let's don the thigh-length wellies and wade in for a closer look.
Your ship then. Er, it's quite big and colourful, but incredibly vulnerable because there's not a lot of room in which to avoid things - if you cock up slightly and miss a couple of oncoming nasties they'll bash into you and knock your rather weedy shields for six. Fortunately there are two types of 'pick-up icons' - the first being temporary invincibility. Very useful. Using this you can hack right into the enemy waves without coming to any harm, and then snatch the second type of pick-up, which is the weapons upgrade (a sort of wibbly red block). Single laser bolts. Double laser bolts. Three-way shot, Giant fireball. And that's just four - there are loads more. Fight your way through all the action (it's pretty frenetic by the way) and you'll eventually reach the end-of-level nasty - a really big 'mutha'. Beat that and you load in the next level, with it's different backdrops and different nasties.
Like I said, it's all very R-Typeish. But why isn't it as good? Well, for a start there's the problem of room. Because the sprites are bigger than those in R-Type, there's less space to play with. It makes the game frustrating. And the animation isn't as smooth either. Generally the whole game lacks the polish and crispness that made R-Type so absolutely brilliant. Having said that, I'll add that Darius has a lot more levels than R-Type, and for all the shortcomings on the graphics and animation front, it does contain that oh-so-important ingredient of addictiveness. Hmm.
Okay, final summing-up paragraph time - and hello if you're the sort of person who leeps straight in at this point and doesn't bother reading the main bulk of the review. Um, I'll keep things short and sweet. If you're expecting R-Type then you're going to be rather disappointed. However if you're expecting a poor man's R-Type then you're just about spot on. Right - I'm off to invade Greece. Wish me luck. (He'll never pull it off. Ed)
A sideways-scrolling shoot-'em-up with all the usual stuff. A bit like R-Type really, but not half as good.