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Darius (ダライアス Daraiasu ) is a horizontally scrolling shoot 'em up arcade game released by Taito in 1986. It is the first game in the Darius series and it is played using a unique three-screen arcade cabinet setup.
After years of pollution and the depletion of natural resources on Earth, humans decided to search beyond the solar system for habitable planets to live on. A space program dedicated to this premise eventually found a solar system similar to the Earthling's and the space colonists selected a habitable planet they named Darius.
After settling on Darius, the inhabitants learned to start a new life and thrive in both society and technology. However, their peace was disturbed by an armada of malevolent maritime shaped space craft controlled by the Belser Army, a race of humanoid space colony based warrior people who have selected the Darius colonists as their next combatants. The Darius inhabitants' only line of defense were the Silver Hawk series: single-piloted fighter craft designed for long space travel with the ability to wield different weapons at the same time. Two of the fleet's top pilots were selected to defend Darius: Proco and Tiat. Together, the two assigned in thwarting Belser's attack on Darius.
Uniquely among shoot 'em ups, the game screen is three times wider than conventional size, and the arcade version uses an arrangement of three screens to accommodate it.
The player flies an ornate fighter craft called a Silver Hawk. The craft is equipped with two attack weapons: Missile, which refers to the forward gun, and Bomb, which refers to ballistic bombs dropped from the craft. A third capability of the craft is referred to as Arm - a green energy shield that can absorb damaging impacts without harm to the ship.
During the course of each Zone, or stage, the player must navigate and battle through a variety of fighter craft, ground vehicles, turrets, and other obstacles.
At the end of every Zone, the terrain fades away and the game issues a textual warning of the form "WARNING! A HUGE BATTLESHIP x-y IS APPROACHING FAST.", where x is the name of a boss and y is a letter identifying the current Zone. The player then arrives in a tunnel where the boss resides, and must defeat it to progress to another Zone. The bosses in Darius, although mechanical, are frequently in the form of aquatic animals, such as fish or squid. There have been exceptions in later games - most notably a foetus (Bio Strong), a Terminator-style robot torso (Galst Vic) and a gigantic Silver Hawk (Mother Hawk).
If the player defeats the boss, the tunnel splits into two and the player must decide whether to take the upper or lower tunnel, both of which lead to different Zones. This allows many different paths to be taken through the game.
In Darius, there are three power-up bars; one each for Missile, Bomb, and Arm (Armour). Each bar has seven divisions.
- Red - Missile
- Green - Bomb
- Blue - Arm
Collecting a bubble powers up the corresponding weapon, and highlights a new division on the corresponding power-up bar. The Arm, if it is diminished or absent at the time of collecting the Blue power-up, is regenerated and powered up.
If the player powers up a weapon more than seven times, the weapon changes to a new, more powerful type. This then becomes the player's default, and can be powered up further.
There are two other colours of power-up bubble - white, and orange - which can be obtained by shooting at certain points of the terrain; there are, however, no visual clues as to where these may be in the level.
- White - gives a score bonus
- Orange - a smart bomb; kills all enemies on screen
Stages and bosses
Among the twenty-six distinct Zones (V and Z are represented twice to be accessed with other paths), there are five motifs: caverns (song: "CAPTAIN NEO"), cities ("INORGANIC BEAT") mountains ("COSMIC AIRWAY"), space around the Van Allen belt ("CHAOS"), and underwater ("THE SEA"). The boss theme depends not on the type of stage, but rather the number of the stage. The only difference between bosses of the same name in different zones is their color.
- Zone A: King Fossil (coelecanth)
- Zone B-C: Electric Fan (sea anemone)
- Zone D-F: Dual Shears (lobster)
- Zone G-J: Fatty Glutton (piranha)
- Zone K-O: Keen Bayonet (swordfish)
- Zone P-U: Iron Hammer (hammerhead shark)
- Zone V: Strong Shell (loggerhead turtle)
- Zone W: Green Coronatus (crowned seahorse)
- Zone X: Octopus
- Zone Y: Cuttlefish
- Zone Z: Great Thing (sperm whale)
- Zone A: King Fossil
- Zone B: Electric Fan
- Zone C: Burst Out (pufferfish)
- Zone D: Big Rajarnn (stingray)
- Zone E: Little Stripes (angelfish)
- Zone F: Dual Shears
- Zone G: My Home Daddy (hermit crab)
- Zone H: Fatty Glutton
- Zone I: Guard Savage (tiger shark)
- Zone J: Steel Spine (porcupine fish)
- Zone K: Hard Mollusk (Portuguese man-o'-war)
- Zone L: Alloy Lantern (anglerfish)
- Zone M: Tough Spring (shrimp)
- Zone N: Hyper Sting (lionfish)
- Zone O: Keen Bayonet
- Zone P: Drio Sawm (moray eel)
- Zone Q: Mystic Power (chambered nautilus)
- Zone R: Fire Star (starfish)
- Zone S: Iron Hammer
- Zone T: Buddy Blazer (seamoth)
- Zone U: Red Crab (fiddler crab)
All final stage bosses are the same as in the arcade version.
The Silver Hawk
The game's attract mode displays diagrams and statistics on the Silver Hawk, providing the following physical information:
- Length: 65.6 FT
- Height: 26.2 FT
- Width: 49.2 FT
- Weight: 77160 lb
Darius was ported to the Amiga, Atari ST, Game Boy, and ZX Spectrum platforms. An expanded port titled "Darius Plus" was released in Japan for the TurboGrafx-16 (also available was a "boss rush" cartridge titled "Darius Alpha"). The game was expanded again and released in Japan for the TurboGrafx CD as "Super Darius".