The Darius, Shoot’em up/Bullet Hell (whatever you want to call it) series spans all the way back to 1987 and the arcades in Japan. If you are old like me you will probably remember playing these types of games while waiting for your turn on Street Fighter or one of the cooler games. To me, spaceship, side-scrolling shooting games were just too crazy. You would waste so much money just trying to prove to yourself you are a good gamer and end up forgetting what games you wanted to play. That is the appeal of these types of games and what makes them addictive. It’s the “Get good scrub” voice that shames you. The original G-Darius was ported onto the Playstation in 1998 and I vaguely remember playing it on one of the famous Playstation demo discs because I was blown away by the new 3D graphics.
Space ships and mutant fish
In G-Darius HD you take on the role of one of two pilots. Either the Red Silver Hawk or the Blue Silver Hawk (Sameluck Raida and Lutia Feen) depending on if you are playing multiplayer. The story revolves around a war between the humans of Amnelia and cyborg/Fish biovessels known as the Thiima. The Thiima awaken after the Amnelian army uses a planet-killing weapon to destroy a moon and set forth to destroy the universe. You could say it’s all the human’s fault.
This is where the story starts for you. The Silver Hawks are called in to help with the fight against the Thiima. You are probably thinking that this is some story for a side-scrolling shoot’em up, but hey, that’s how they rolled back in the day.
Catch and release
The gameplay in G-Darius HD is everything you will want from a side-scrolling shooter. Your ship does the usual moves up, down, left and right and will fire out missiles, lasers or energy waves. The Silver Hawks are also equipped with a shield and rockets which continuously fire. You will fight through waves and waves of enemy forces before finally facing off against a huge Thiima battleship that is always sea-themed and awesome looking.
You can also collect powerups as you tear through the levels and you use these to upgrade your weapons. Probably like me, you will die a lot, especially as you get further into the levels but when you do the new upgrades are downgraded so try to live. There is another handy weapon on your Silver Hawk in the shape of the capture ball. You shoot this ball out to capture your enemies which will then add you in battle. You can also absorb your enemies which fills a gauge on your screen. When you have filled your gauge you can blast your beam and using this against bosses is a must.
Travelling through space in style
The levels themselves are split and you get to choose which path you want which is a brilliant little addition and gives you an alternative ending and some replayability. You get to choose which path after each boss battle and if you are a completionist you will be playing these levels over and over. There are high score tables that you can challenge your friends, just like in the arcades. It makes a great drinking game too, trust me.
You can also play the original version if you want but the HD version is beautiful so there is no need really. Overall G-Darius HD is fun and not that long. It brings you back to the arcade days and in a good way. As I get older my reflexes aren’t as sharp and I died a lot, but I didn’t care as I was having fun. So if you like these games this should be top of the list.