As we see more beloved games from the past make their way to current generation consoles, they’re both a testament to how far we’ve come and the power of good gameplay. For many, Darius was the game that got them into bullet hell games, a genre that attempts to overwhelm players in the hope they can overcome impossible odds. However, with so many changes, is Darius Cozmic Collection Arcade a blast to play through or a frustrating adventure that might break a controller or three?
Before we talk about the games and how the experience differs, it’s important to understand what exactly Darius is. In these games, you pilot a rather modest ship and have to defeat a wide variety of robotic versions of sea creatures (craps, squids, fish, etc). The challenge isn’t so much what you’re fighting, as much as the journey itself. Specific enemies have power-ups, which can either increase your attack or defense, making it easier to survive. Dying resets your power, making later stages harder, in addition to making earlier stages extremely challenging. You also have the choice of various routes where you face unique challenges that you need to overcome. All of this needs to be accomplished as you dodge enemies flying across the screen and firing countless bullets are your ship. Overcoming these challenges is the charm of Darius.
Darius Cozmic Collection Arcade is, in so many ways, a fascinating experience. Darius, the original arcade from 1986, offers an extremely dated experience that you can see refined in Darius II and feels relatively modern in Darius Gaiden, which released in 1994. For some, the adventure, especially Darius, can be rather difficult but it is worth it for anyone looking to improve your skills.
Similar to Street Fighter’s collection sometime back, this is basically a collection of three games that contains a couple of quirky versions of the games. For instance, Darius old version is the original game, Darius new version makes boss fights easier and Darius extra version makes things easier but later stages were changed with the expectation of you having various upgrades at that point. Said differences are listed with the game itself, making it rather easy to tell which game is right for you.
Out of the collection, Darius is by a wide margin the most difficult. This is due to stages restarting, either at the beginning of a checkpoint when you die. Simply put, you can’t overcome a lack of skill with credits. In addition to that, your rate of fire is far slower and it pushes a more methodic play style that stands as a contrast to the hectic and frantic style the series developed over time.
In the sequel, Darius II things are a lot faster paced and it’s more accessible. Both removing the starting mechanic and also making enemies die a lot faster. As a result, it’s a more engaging experience whether you play the original game or the edited Sagaia versions, just keep in mind each version has its own distinct feel to it, even if they’re fairly similar.
Finally, in Darius Gaiden, it’s hard to believe this is the same franchise. Things get crazy rather fast but, at the same time, it’s a delightful frenzy of bullets and death that you need to overcome. A bomb mechanic was added to make things more manageable or prevent you from dying, in addition to firing patterns being far more elaborate relatively quickly, as opposed to having to be extremely skilled and get there through perseverance. Due to this, Darius Gaiden is probably the most fun game in the collection and will likely motivate you to visit all the different paths.
Regardless of how difficult you find these games, Darius Cozmic Collection Arcade tries to give you some modern advantages. These include additional lives at the start, difficulty levels, the ability to save whenever you want, and, most importantly, a practice mode. In the aforementioned practice mode, you can freely play the game the way you want. Max power, no powers, specific powers, it’s your choice, with the intent being you learn enemy patterns and how to navigate each level. And, even if you don’t learn anything, you can just have fun doing whatever you want.
Another highlight is online rankings. While this is far from the most interesting mechanic in Darius Cozmic Collection Arcade, it motivates players to go down specific paths and pushes them to be better. Most of the titles in this collection have a total of 26 stages that unlock depending on which path you take. If you’re not good enough to make it through the hardest route, you can try different ones to increase your score. Plus, this way you can play different versions of the same game without getting burned out.
Darius Cozmic Collection Arcade Verdict
Fans of Darius or bullet hell games will likely appreciate everything Darius Cozmic Collection Arcade has to offer. It’s crazy, flashy, and most importantly fun. It’s a shame some of the games, like Darius, are not as accessible but the inclusion of Darius Gaiden helps bridge that game. Add in multiple paths, different experiences and it’s easy to get a lot of value out of Darius Cozmic Collection Arcade without even bothering with high scores or online rankings.
[Editor’s Note: Darius Cozmic Collection Arcade was reviewed on PS4 platform. The game was provided to us by the publisher for review purposes. Also, please note some of this review was repurposed in the other Darius Collection due to their similarities.]