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Darius Twin (SNES) artwork

Darius Twin (SNES) review


"If you’ve played a Darius game before—and most shooter fans have—the boss encounters won't floor you. The familiar siren sounds along with a dramatic written warning that both names, and describes, the oncoming sea-dwelling behemoth. But the actual names in Twin are priceless. As over-the-top dramatic as they are, (e.g.: a tortoise named Full Metalshell) they are quite in keeping with the wailing, alarming tracks that enthuse in the background. A boss encounter in Twin is like a episode-ending Voltron battle: all hype."



Darius Twin doesn’t look that hot, but it performs adequately, screams in the bedroom, and allows you to bring a friend along

Darius was never exceptional. Not now. Not when Taito released the very first game over ten years ago, not when they released the sequel, Sagaia. Not even when the first made its way to the NEC Turbografx-16--twice as a HuCard, and once on CD--while the second landed on both Sega’s Master System and their Genesis. Mind you, enemy bullet patterns were exceptional during the Saturn’s Darius Gaiden, and enemy proportions and presentation were exceptional in the Playstation’s G-Darius. But through and through, Taito’s long surviving fish-firing franchise (yes, it's a horizontal shooter where giant, alien fish are the enemy) found itself tied to mediocrity like a boat tied to the dock. Sometimes new ideas would grant the rope some give, but never enough to really matter.

Not surprisingly, Darius Twin is no different. Zuntata, Taito’s in-house music composers, attacked the project with their usual mesh of elevator tunes and squealing orchestration, arriving at an average-sounding score at best. They’ve done much better, (Raystorm) but have also done much worse (Super Nova). Similarly, Taito themselves have produced something of a middle-of-the-road shooter, as Twin finds itself a mean even within the context of the series it belongs to.

The backgrounds are sometimes sweetly illustrated, like the memorable depiction of the azure blue sky welcoming tall mountains into its space. Other times, our mouths are agape in wonderment at the sheer triteness of it all: picture the black canvas of ‘outer space’ marked with white dots, painted lazily as landmarks. Too many levels are cursed with this damning simplicity. Sure, as in all Darius games, there are multiple paths to take, (like Outrun) but what good are the extra levels when many of them look the same? I'll tell you--extra levels equals extra bosses.

If you’ve played a Darius game before--and most shooter fans have--the boss encounters won't floor you. The familiar siren sounds along with a dramatic written warning that both names, and describes, the oncoming sea-dwelling behemoth. But the actual names in Twin are priceless. As over-the-top dramatic as they are, (e.g.: a tortoise named Full Metalshell) they are quite in keeping with the wailing, alarming tracks that enthuse in the background. A boss encounter in Twin is like a episode-ending Voltron battle: all hype. But it's fun, and perhaps this was Taito's way of taking your attention away from the fact that the game is dead easy, with plenty of dead spots. It doesn't make you sweat outside of the boss song and dances, until the near-impossible last level. Taking a friend along, however, will force you to share the power ups, effectively correcting the curve of difficulty--not to mention doubling the fun you'll be having howling along to the music while mutilating the marine life.

On the surface, Darius Twin is just a decent shooter. You shoot down typical enemy formations to gain power ups that range from diagonal shots to straight ahead firepower, (the blade shots are amazing to behold here) to upgradeable shields (as is the blue; then silver; then gold, shining, coursing shield). The point to be made with Darius Twin, is that it’s as average as any Darius game, except that there’s some memory-making kitsch value in the screaming tunes and odd boss names, and it’s two-player simultaneous action. That’s enough to make it just about as exceptional as any Darius game will get.

Something More: My personal favourite Darius Twin boss is Hyper Greatthing, a massive whale that fires drill bits along with the usual bullet projectiles. The final enemy, Great Tusk, is an exercise in anticlimax--defeating the second-to-last guardian (either Greatthing or the underbite-wearing Super Alloylantern) is a much tougher task.

Something Else: Darius Plus for the Turbografx-16 is arguably the best home version of any game from the series. The graphics are a bit pasty at times, but the game is fast, the fish idea is fresh (fresh fish!) and it achieves a balance in difficulty that no other Darius title approaches. A rare 'boss encounter-only' version of this game exists called Darius Alpha--it's worth hunting down if you're a fan.

Rating: 6/10

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Staff review by Marc Golding (January 13, 2004)

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