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Game Review #539: Darius Cozmic Collection Arcade and Console (Nintendo Switch)

Review by: Frank Wood @WoodmanFLG

Developer: TAITO

Publisher: ININ Games

Category: Arcade, Action

Release Date: 6.16.2020

Price: $44.99 Arcade, $59.99 Console

Watch the Trailer

Buy Darius Cozmic Collection Arcade from the Nintendo Switch eShop here.

Buy Darius Cozmic Collection Console from the Nintendo Switch eShop here.

Cozmic Sea Creature Crusades

The legendary horizontal shoot em up staple comes to the Switch in a big way, landing with a splash on the system with two huge collections that celebrate the history of this classic series both at home on a console, as well as its origins, the Arcade! Featuring 6 titles, with 9 versions on the console version of the Cozmic Collection, and 4 titles with 7 versions on the Arcade version of Cozmic Collection, these titles are sure to scratch the itch of an old school fan, or to give someone wanting to get into the series a huge collection of games they could give a try, and find out if they like it. These are some seriously high quality ports, as well as a variety of regional variants of games, or other interesting factors that made it worth including in this collection. Don’t know anything about the series at large? Well, why don’t I see if I can’t make you interested, with a little bit more information on Darius as a whole!

Horizontal Destruction

It all started in the year 201 In the Darius System when the Belsar, an alien race who happen to mostly look like various aquatic animals and other aquatic life, began to attack the peaceful Darius system. Things seemed extremely grim when the Belsar destroyed the entire defense fleet in one sweeping attack, and the system began to lose hope while It waited to be destroyed by the encroaching Belsar forces. But then, the Silverhawk erupted from a cloud, a battleship with the ability to fight back against the Belsar, and hope was restored for the system. It's up to you, pilot of the Silverhawk, to save the system from the mighty Belsar!

To do this, you will be playing a horizontal style shoot em up game, piloting your ship through a level, dodging environmental dangers, as well as blasting down fleets of enemy ships that are dead set on eliminating the one threat to their conquest: you! Dodging the ships themselves, bombs, missiles, and lasers will have you biting at your nails as you learn how to tackle each level, collecting power ups to your main attack, bombs and shields, and even more kinds of weapons in the later entries in order to blast through the level, and make it to the boss! Whether it's a squid, a fish, a turtle or a mollusk, you are sure to be dealing with screens full of bullets as you take down the big bosses.

A hallmark of Darius is the branching level paths system which leads to TONS of replayability! After you beat a boss, you will be able to to select which level you want to do next, and as you branch you you can have MANY playthroughs without repeating an old one, its nice and refreshing. If a level or path is giving you too much trouble, you can try a new one! This storyline is… basically what you get from the games, with some variation. Fish mecha are attacking, and you are the last hope of civilization, over and over. And that's fine, it's a Shoot Em Up; we aren’t here for fancy stories, we are here for red knuckle gameplay and awesome visuals! Now that you have an idea of what you are dealing with, let's talk a bit more about exactly what you can expect in each edition of the Darius Cozmic Collection!

Arcade Dreamin’

To start, we have the original Darius, including its absolutely massive resolution due to its original 3 screen setup. It's insane how much is visible at a time with these! There are two variant versions of the original title, New Version, and Extra version. They include some rebalanced difficulty, so you get a little bit of a different experience out of it. Next up, we have Darius 2, as well as its differently named versions, Sagia. Sagia has shorter levels, but harder levels, as well as some bosses and routes being entirely removed. Darius 2 introduced the ability to change your facing during boss battles, leading to some fun situations contained within it, especially considering the bosses.

I think the visuals were also HUGELY improved in two, and it also adds some kinda goofy dialogue too, which is charming! Rounding off the arcade collection, We have Darius Gaiden, the third entry in the series! It was the first title to be a single screen game, giving it more widespread appeal to arcade owners of the time, combining that with the fact this might be the most visually appealing game yet, made Gaiden a well respected entry in the series that garnered many fans! That wraps up the arcade Segment, what about Console versions?

Console Crustaceans

No OG Darius is to be found here, instead we are starting out with the Mega Drive port of Darius 2, and man did they have to change A LOT to get this bad boy working on the Sega Mega Drive, and I can’t say I’m the biggest fan of it. Also coming in after that are the Master System and Genesis versions of Saiga, and they aren’t too impressive either after playing Darius 2 in an arcade. When the console collection starts to get interesting are the Super Famicom and SNES versions of Darius Twin, the first original console entry in the series. These were made from the ground up for the console, and feel MUCH better than the previous console entries because of it.

After this, Darius Force and SuperNova come into the picture, SuperNova essentially being the SNES version of Darius Force. SuperNova is one of my favorite SNES shoot em ups, so it was a joy to see that one here, its one of my favorite entries in the series! After that, we have the two Darius’s for the PC Engine, Darius Alpha and Darius Plus. Darius Alpha is essentially a boss rush of the first Darius game bosses, and Darius Plus being a downgraded kind of version of Super Darius. The unique sounds and visuals of the PC Engine version are enjoyable, and a boss rush mode is always welcome! Speaking of things like boss rush, let's tie this all up pretty with a bow by talking about added features!

Wrapping up

Both collections also feature some different modes for the different games, score attacks, boss rushes, time trials and more, there is plenty here to get some more life out of an old favorite on this collection. This is a great collection of games, and I enjoy some of the added modes and the access to manuals for each entry, but with so many collections coming out nowadays, this doesn’t do much to distinguish it from other collections. A series as light on story as Darius does so much through visual storytelling, and It would have been a joy to be able to see concept art for the series, or maybe some developer interviews or something, maybe official arcade cabinet art, or the cover art for console games. I felt after everything, this is a collection of great games, and its all very well done, but to raise above the others, I would have wanted some more additional content to bring me into this collection. It's still great for fans and newbies, if not just a little pricey.

Score: 7/10

Buy Darius Cozmic Collection Arcade from the Nintendo Switch eShop here.

Buy Darius Cozmic Collection Console from the Nintendo Switch eShop here.

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*A game code was provided for review purposes.

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