Darius Twin (SNES) review
"Maybe the original Darius wasn’t the greatest shooter ever made. It wasn’t as intricate and demanding as R-Type or as simple and mindlessly fun as other early shooters, but it was still a quality game. Heck, I can safely say the PC Engine port (Darius Plus) is worth playing solely for the boss battles. With a total of 16 beautifully rendered robotic menaces derived from various forms of aquatic life, the original bosses of Darius were sheer works of art. Combine that with some rich, colorful gra..."
Maybe the original Darius wasn’t the greatest shooter ever made. It wasn’t as intricate and demanding as R-Type or as simple and mindlessly fun as other early shooters, but it was still a quality game. Heck, I can safely say the PC Engine port (Darius Plus) is worth playing solely for the boss battles. With a total of 16 beautifully rendered robotic menaces derived from various forms of aquatic life, the original bosses of Darius were sheer works of art. Combine that with some rich, colorful graphics and a killer soundtrack and you end up with a pretty decent game.
But then Nintendo got their hands on the franchise. Early in the history of the Super Nintendo, Darius Twin was churned out by Taito as an alternative to Konami’s Gradius III in an attempt to capture the adoration of the shooter crowd. Sadly, with the exception of two factors, Darius Twin is so dramatically inferior to the PC Engine port of the original Darius that fans of that game will likely view it with utter disdain.
Like I said, there are two factors working in favor of this game. First, suffering the loss of one ship will not cripple your chances of beating the game. In the original, dying would drop your standard gun, missiles and shield back to the lowest level of their current form. So, for example, if you died as soon as you upgraded your standard gun to its laser form, you’d still have a laser. But, if you had a level seven laser and were on the verge of upgrading to the godly wave gun and died, you’d be dropped back down to that lowest rank of laser -- a blow that would cripple your chances of overcoming the final bosses. In Darius Twin, if you suffer the loss of a life, your ship will return just as powerful as it was when you died. Let’s just say that I enjoy having a little room for error and I really enjoy knowing that one tiny slip-up won’t be forcing me to stab frantically at the reset button.
The other thing this game has working for it can be figured out by simply looking at the game’s title. “Twin” means that two players can play at once -- a feature new to console Darius fans.
The only question is, “Will you be able to find a friend willing to play this game with you?” To put things bluntly, Darius Twin is nowhere near being either the best SNES shooter or the best console Darius game. You’ve read about the good points of this game, now sit tight and pay attention because there are a TON of flaws to run through!
Darius Twin is smaller in scope. The original had 26 levels (with two repeated for a total of 28) and 16 different bosses. Sure, all the levels used five basic templates, which were repeated frequently, but you only played seven during any particular session through the game. So, any time you picked up Darius Plus, you could go through a different set of levels, giving that game a ton of replay value. Well, in Darius Twin, there are only 12 different worlds to visit. To make matters worse, areas “B” and “C” are the exact same, as are planets “E” and “F” and zones “G” and “I”. That reduces the game to nine different levels right there. Also, you really can’t do that much to alter your route during subsequent trips through the game’s solar system. If you look at the game’s map, after completing zone “A”, you’ll do one of the identical “B” or “C” zones. However, no matter which way you go, you’ll be stuck going to “D” immediately afterward, meaning that no matter what you do, your first three levels will be the exact same every time you play. In fact, out of the nine different stages in the game, you’ll see seven each time you play and will only need to get through the game twice to see everything the solar system has to offer. Not so much replay value here, is there?
Darius Twin isn’t pleasing to the senses. Aesthetically, very little about this game comes close to matching Darius Plus. Just look at the meager background visuals. The early outer space levels (“B” and “C”) are horribly ugly, with nothing but tiny stars (or little dots of light, depending on your perspective) as decoration. Levels taking place over and under water and above mountains are decorated by little else than empty sky or water, with only a tiny portion of the screen holding any sort of adornment. It’s far cry from the lush, mesmerizing backgrounds boasted by many of the levels in Darius Plus. Musically, this beast isn’t much better. While a couple of levels do have some fine tunes, for the most part, the moody, atmospheric melodies of the first Darius have been scrapped for boring, generic themes that could be cut-and-pasted into any number of other mediocre shooters.
Darius Twin just isn’t that much fun to play. That’s not to say there aren’t fun parts. There are a couple of levels where the screen scrolls at an angle, forcing you to maneuver quickly to avoid smashing into an obstruction. And while the bosses aren’t designed as beautifully as the ones in Darius Plus, they still are attractive, fun battles. However, for the most part, this game is essentially a stripped-down version of that original Darius arcade/PC Engine game. Just get that game, make it shorter (with stages that zoom by far quicker than in Darius Plus), less appealing and a bit less frenetic and you have Darius Twin. You have all the elements that made Darius Plus a fun game -- you just don’t have them in that large of a quantity. I don’t think you need me to tell you that isn’t a good thing.
I do have to apologize for constantly bringing up the original Darius arcade game and its PC Engine port while reviewing Darius Twin, but in this case, it really is necessary. The arcade original came out in 1986 and was ported to the PC Engine in 1990. Darius Twin hit the market in 1991. Essentially, Darius Twin is a sequel that is completely outclassed by its predecessor in nearly every way possible. Darius Twin isn’t a horrible game -- being able to play with a friend is very nice and not having to watch a powerful machine get crippled by one lousy death is a godsend -- but it is a disappointing one. You won’t find the atmosphere of the first game in the series, nor will you enjoy the extended replay value. Let’s face it -- when you take two of the best aspects of a game and cast them aside, what’s left over isn’t going to be that special. And when a sequel to a game is little more than a smaller, less appealing version of the original, things get downright ugly.
Community review by overdrive (August 11, 2004)
Rob Hamilton is the official drunken master of review writing for Honestgamers.
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