While plenty of arcade shoot ’em up series have had a simple chronology of releases and oodles of console ports, one of the most iconic and pioneering series in the genre, Darius, has had an incomprehensible timeline and no convenient way to play most of it at home. Thankfully, Taito is finally righting that wrong with a pair of classic collections gathering almost every release, re-release, and port from the iconic shooter franchise. This is our review for Darius Cozmic Collection Arcade, but we have a review for Darius Cozmic Collection Console, the other part of this collection, as well!
When it comes to the lineup of titles included in Darius Cozmic Collection Arcade, you’re looking at seven games… technically. See, what this collection does is not only collect three of the main Darius arcade games under one roof, but also the many alternate versions that were released. This leads to there being three different versions of the first Darius arcade title in this collection, followed by one version of Darius II and two versions of Sagaia, which is actually just the English version of Darius II. The game does an earnest effort of including descriptive text of each game and what their differences entail, aside from Sagaia Version 2 only having a one-sentence description saying it was hard to find. Having all of these alternate versions of each game included is likely a delight for major buffs of the series or shoot ’em up historians, but when you boil it down and realize you’re paying a premium price for just three old-school arcade games, it’s a hard pill to swallow.
Still, it’s not as if there’s anything wrong with the handful of games included in Darius Cozmic Collection Arcade. Each of these classic shoot ’em ups is a delight, and even when you’re playing on a bedroom TV or the Nintendo Switch screen, the unique hardware of the original arcade release shines through. See, the first two Darius games were actually played on multiple connected monitors. In this collection, the result is an ultra-wide field of play for Darius that makes the scale of these otherworldly locales and bosses really come to life.
Darius II goes down to just two connected screens, but the tighter visual real estate results in an even more immersive experience that also really helps make the visuals shine and the action feel faster and more frenetic than ever. Darius Gaiden leans into the uncomfortable oddities of this series, being about fighting giant fish robots across the stars with vocal background music, gorgeous environment visuals, and truly bonkers boss designs.
While the things that are present in Darius Cozmic Collection Arcade are a delight, it’s still disappointing to think about what isn’t in this collection. For starters, this isn’t a definitive compilation of every Darius arcade game. 1997 sequel G-Darius, notably, isn’t included at all. On top of that, a lot of the bonuses and extras you’d hope to see out of a premium collection like this aren’t included at all. The “Manual” button simply takes you to a Japanese web page explaining how the Nintendo Switch controller works, rather than including scans or photos of the original arcade artwork or instruction manuals for the game. There’s no gallery, no behind-the-scenes documentation, and no selectable background border artwork. While you can chase high scores and view replay footage from your runs and those of players on the leaderboard, the lack of an achievement system or even minor unlockables is also a disappointment.
The lack of bonuses outside of the games is made up for, though, by the huge amount of options you have in-game. Darius Cozmic Collection Arcade offers numerous game options, display settings, and more that let you finely tune the experience. Being able to adjust the difficulty, lives, and your display style are basic necessities, but the addition of nearly a dozen different on-screen UI elements that help you keep track of things like boss health and weapon strength, as well as six different quicksave slots for each game, is an absolute blessing.
All in all, this is a high-quality collection of games, but the experience is brought down by some missing content and a high price tag.
Release Date: June 16, 2020
No. of Players: 1-2 players
Category: Arcade, Action
Publisher: ININ Games
A review code was provided by the publisher.