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Darxide (Sega 32X) artwork

Darxide (Sega 32X) review

"Devolved Asteriods Evolved"

DarXide is functional. Thereís a hearty slice of unenthused praise if ever I saw it, but itís the kindest description I have. Itís not broken in any way; it controls fine, itís not buggy or glitchy. It tends to suffer from slowdown when the screen starts to fill, but thatís quite understandable, because its one big selling point is that itís kind of gorgeous. The kind of gorgeous thatís a strain for 90ís system to load. While hardly amazing by todayís photo-realistic standards, for the early 3D pioneering days, DarXide was a trendsetter. Check it out, resplendent in all its texture-mapped polygons long before that became the norm. Sure, pretty dated now, but back in the hazy pasts of 1995 that was some cutting edge tech.

Originally set to be a launch title for the doomed SEGA Neptune, the console that was designed to combine the Mega Drive and the 32X into one big lump, it was supposed to show off that systemís power. It does; DarXideís a true showcase and has aged a lot more gracefully than a lot of the 32Xís backlog. It was important for SEGA to demonstrate that their new weird hybrid system could kind of hang with the upcoming 32bit machines and, at first glance, DarXide was their big statement to show that it kind of sort of could.

This falls apart, though, if you actually play it. Which isnít a likely problem; copies of the game only exist in legend, making rare EBay sightings price in the thousands of pounds range. After the SEGA Neptune was binned, DarXide was only released on the 32X in the EU region, giving it a very limited run, which makes it very collectable. I guess because itís a nice thing to own? Itís certainly not that great to play. The unenviable reality is that DarXide is a bloated tech demo.

Thereís nothing definably wrong with the game, aside from the fact that itís completely vapid and irredeemably shallow. Itís unashamedly a 3D version of Asteroids, which means you fly around a small pocket of space, shooting at space boulders. But DarXide expands the field of play tremendously, and, by doing so, manages to completely miss the point of the original. Both games have you flying around shooting at large rocks which then explode into smaller rocks, but in Asteroids, that invited chaos. Your slow, cumbersome triangle fighter craft then had to deal with numerous splintered comets -- smaller, faster, harder to hit. Just grazing one meant death. In DarXide, you find a hunk of rock and shoot at it until it splinters and dies.

Thereís no chaos in DarXide; thereís very little of anything. By abandoning the claustrophobic, penned in arena of Asteroids and inserting three dimensions of free roam, they render the entire point of that classic game moot. So, in an attempt to reign in some kind of relevance, the premises stops being about survival and becomes a time attack, asking you to break all the space rocks while a timer ticks down. So you squint at a tiny, worthless map compressed in the top right corner, searching out dots that are sometimes asteroids to shoot. It even gives you a scrap of a storyline; turns out youíve been dispatched to save some deep space miners. You save them by exploding the asteroids theyíre based on.

Sometimes you come across abandoned spacecraft, which you can blow up to get crystals which refill your shield, because DarXide canít even be bothered to emulate Asteroidís insta-death from collision right. Sometimes alien saucers show up to shoot at you ineffectively, drawing in all your attention with their ridiculously loud, flashing colour scheme. Nothing says fear the skies like an invading alien force covering their crafts in surplus disco lights. You can blow them up for points, I guess, but theyíre more or less meaningless. You search a large pocket of space for small gatherings of rocks, guided by insignificant radar and threatened by nothing of substance.

DarXide feels like it was built to be admired, to be something placed on a pedestal for people to reverently gather around and nod approvingly at. On some small scale, it worked, showing that the 32X and, in theory, the Neptune, could do some things with polygons and textures that the 16bit machines had no chance of emulating. Only, so what? The PlayStation and the Saturn were already showing they had the same processing power and then some, making DarXideís one big attraction obsolete almost upon arrival. Stripped of its spectacle, all it had left to fall back on was its worth as a game. Iíll let you know should ever I find any.


EmP's avatar
Staff review by Gary Hartley (January 28, 2018)

Gary Hartley arbitrarily arrives, leaves a review for a game no one has heard of, then retreats to his 17th century castle in rural England to feed whatever lives in the moat and complain about you.

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If you enjoyed this Darxide review, you're encouraged to discuss it with the author and with other members of the site's community. If you don't already have an HonestGamers account, you can sign up for one in a snap. Thank you for reading!

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Masters posted December 31, 1969:

Where the hell did my original feedback topic go?
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Masters posted December 31, 1969:

Let's try this again.
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overdrive posted January 31, 2018:

Looks like Marc's mastered time travel and was able to go back in time to 20-some years before DarXide was released in order to start a thread on a brand new review of it.

Or something's glitched with the site's time-stamp. But I like my interpretation better.
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Masters posted January 31, 2018:

I actually made a topic for this review a few days ago, complete with typo catches, and it just disappeared into the ether. Then I made it again, and it didn't show up on the main page -- only under the review. Only on the third try did it stick, but all of my super valuable advice has been lost forever.
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EmP posted February 01, 2018:

I did catch that topic before it vanished into the void, so carried out a lot of the fixes you suggested, because there were good and made sense. I appreciate the effort, even if the site decided to eat it.

More 32X goodness to come.
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honestgamer posted February 01, 2018:

Sorry for the disappearing topics, which I didn't know about until I read this thread just now. There probably are a few irregularities in the site code, hanging around after the timestamp changes that I didn't want to have to make. As I catch them and can consistently reproduce them, I'll be better able to hopefully resolve them. In the meantime, please continue to make noise about them so I have enough information to implement a fix... and sorry for any posts the forums may happen to eat.

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