DARIUSBURST: ANOTHER CHRONICLE
(Top picture is of the Japanese version, bottom is the European version. US version looks like the Japanese version with the canopy but is in English)
DEVELOPER: Taito Corp.
PUBLISHER: Taito Corp.
RELEASE: Dec. 17th, 2010 (Japan); December 2011 (International)
TYPE: Side-scrolling shooter
PLAYERS: 1-4, simultaneous
HARDWARE: Taito Type X2
ARCADE EXCLUSIVE?: The software for this has been modified for use on iPhone/iPad, it lacks some of the features of the arcade and is not exactly the same game. So yes, it is arcade exclusive
RATING: Green – Suitable for All Ages
HISTORY: Darius Burst: Another Chronicle is the latest iteration of Taito’s classic shooting series, Darius, which first came to arcades in 1986. Just like Darius and Darius Twin, DBAC takes advantage of the opportunity to try something different that arcade cabinets provide best, by using two 32″ LCD screens and angled mirrors to create a seamless, double wide screen. DBAC also introduces various new elements to the series including: 4 player co-operative play, a new power-up system that lets more than one player grab the same power-up, Chronicle mode which allows for deeper gameplay and story to be told and online support including leaderboards. The game also uses a “sonic body seat” which puts a rumble feature into the seat and it has headphone jacks that the players can use.
Other elements from previous Darius games, such as bosses based upon marine life, the warning system, the level select and the burst laser (which was from the Darius Burst) have been kept intact.
Taito has stated publicly that one reason why they have brought the Darius series back to arcades was to attract the demographic of 30-40 year old male players back into arcade
venues. Location tests for the game saw long lines (pictured) and initially the game opened in over 300 venues across Japan.
Interest in DBAC outside of Japan has been high as well. Many websites picked up on the news of the game and many players wondered if the game would see a release outside of Japan, beyond a few places who don’t mind importing games from Japan. Taito does not have a business network established in the United States after their US arcade division closed in the 90’s; but they have been bringing a few games out in the US and Europe recently. There was Chase HQ2 in 2007, Panic Museum in 2009/10, Hopping Road in 2010/11 and even Elevator Action: Death Parade. All of these releases were low key affairs but they show that Taito still has interest in supporting arcades outside of Japan.
As such, we at Arcade Heroes found out who to contact and we ran a story to get players to convince Taito to give DBAC a chance outside of Japan. You can see that story here. Taito has said that they’ve heard a lot of feedback from the players and in January 2011, the first news of an English version of DBAC surfaced, thus showing the real possibility of the game being released internationally in 2011. In Summer 2011, Taito also released Darius Burst Another Chronicle EX, a major update which added new bosses, ships, weapons, levels, etc. So far it has been a Japanese only update.
In July 2011 the game was found on an extended location test at the Casino Arcade in London. In August 2011 it was found in the United States at the Regal 18 Theaters in New Jersey but was pulled the same week it was reported to have been discovered by players, although according to our information from Taito, it had already been at that location for some weeks. After that it appeared at The Game Grid Arcade in West Valley City, UT for an extended test. As of December 2011 the game is now available worldwide.
REVIEW: Opinion by Adam “Arcadehero” Pratt
Since first hearing about the development of Dariusburst Another Chronicle, my interest in the game was high. Not because I was an old fan of Darius – to be honest I might have played Darius Gaiden once or twice on Taito Legends 2 prior to hearing about this and I had never seen an arcade cabinet for the game in the wild. Part of the interest was from it being a new horizontal scrolling shooter and that it looked like something completely unique for the current arcade market.
After getting it on test at my own arcade location as mentioned above, I had my first chance to experience it in arcades in September 2011. For all of the hype I heard about it coming from Japan I was excited but was hoping I wouldn’t be disappointed over it and to my expectations, it outperformed.
Now I say this all from the perspective of a player who has been playing video games since the mid-80s and so I have an affection for classic style games that don’t hold your hand and take practice to become really good at. Dariusburst AC is that kind of game. As such I have observed over the various months that it is not the kind of game that casual gamers flock t. If you choose easy it doesn’t throw a ton at you but I have witnessed many who use up their three lives within 15 seconds as they run straight into the few enemies that appear on-screen as opposed to shooting them (Pro-Tip: In games like this, shoot everything that moves, just in case. Only touch power-ups and pretty much nothing else). For me however I did not have that problem and anyone slightly familiar with these kinds of games shouldn’t either.
There are two game modes to pick from, Original and Chronicle mode. Original is just like other Darius games in that it gives you a “tree branch” level selection screen. You can pick your starting level to be Easy, Normal or Hard and depending upon what you select to being with will limit you selection afterwards. After each boss battle is won it gives you two levels to pick from within that branch you selected, the ones on the top always being easier than those on the bottom. This way it allows you to slightly adjust your difficulty mid-stream. Aside from the number and types of enemies the different difficulties will present, there are also changes to your shields. After you die in easy the game will give you back some basic shields but in Normal or Hard you need to pick-up a blue power-up orb to get them back.
For power-ups they are straightforward – Red increases your level and type of firepower. You do not loose it when you die which is nice and by picking up enough red orbs through the stages means that you can have some devastating firepower by the time you reach the final boss. Blue does the same for shields – without shields you explode with one hit. The more blue power-ups you get, the more hits your shields can take. Green orbs enhance your bomb firepower which can either be drop bombs or homing missiles. Gold explodes everything on screen and silver gives you points. One handy characteristic of the power-ups is that because this game is based around multiplayer co-op play for up to four people, it allows you to share power-ups so one jerk doesn’t hog everything. A spherical wave will emanate from where the power-up is first touched and any other players that enter that wave for the few seconds its there will pick it up as well.
One aspect that is along these lines of sharing is a negative though. Originally they designed the game to also share player ships instead of giving each player their own quantity to enjoy. This isn’t a bad thing when you have players of equal skill going at it but it can be detrimental when you have a really good player sitting in with really bad ones who will hog up all the lives. There is one way around this however and that is through purchasing infinite lives. It costs a little extra and will not record the score but it allows up to four players to go through a full game without needing to worry about how many times an unskilled player is fried. This is useful to anyone new to the game so they can get the hang of it. Likewise if you want to be a lone ranger you can select “Entry Prohibit” when you are selecting your ship so you can’t have kids jump on in the middle of the game, stealing your lives and wasting your credit.
Speaking of ships the version I play has four to choose from: Legend Silverhawk, Next, Formula and Origin. Legend is the balanced fighter best for beginners, Next is OK although I don’t personally care for it, Formula is for intermediate and advanced players as it has a short range cannon (but that does more damage and spread) and Origin is for advanced players only, fitting into an old school feel. Weapons and scoring differences are where these ships diverge (there are no notable speed differences) from how powerful shots are, to bombs and the Burst Laser in how it is controlled. All ships except Origin have a Burst Laser, which is a great way to dispatch large hordes of enemies (and this game throws them at you plenty). To make up for it, Origin has the most powerful cannon which weedwhacks enemies away just like a burst laser when upgraded to its highest levels and the score multiplier is higher. Typically the first three ships can have a maximum multiplier of x16 for taking out a group of enemies whereas Origin lets you get up to x60. There are ways around it however.
The aspect of the Burst Laser is something that introduces a new skill into the game that you normally don’t have with a game like this. It takes some practice to use properly but once you get it down it is a real bonus. It is controlled with the top button and has two functions – Full Burst or Fixed Burst. To do a Full burst just hold the top button down. It will drain your burst meter (seen as a yellow bar below the ship) quickly but is powerful. Also if you take out a complete group of enemy ships doing that, it allows you to get multipliers above x16, up to x64. Kill a boss with a Full Burst and it can send your score rocketing up. The Fixed burst is for more finesse and works defensively as well. To use it you double tap the top button which will lay the turret down at your current position. You can then fix it into position by holding your primary fire button down (middle button) or change its angle by moving your ship and not firing. This is where ships differ as well. The turret will move opposite your movement (i.e. if you are behind it and move up, it will move at a downwards angle, vice versa) with Legend and Formula but with Next it follows you where you are currently located. For straight firing, just double tap then immediately hold the center button. This is really good for taking out moving hordes or damaging high point bosses while you pummel them with your main cannon. In multiplayer you can “cross the streams” and get a more powerful blast out of it, which does take practice but it fun to pull off. For more advanced players there is also the Counterburst. Mid-level bosses and end level bosses generally have a Burst laser of their own and if you time it right, firing a Full Burst right into their Burst will give you a powerful Counterburst that can take these guys out lickity split. It is a big risk to pull off but quite rewarding when done right. Even more risky is pulling off a Counterburst after they already have fired. You have to cross their stream and fire at the right time, which is no easy task but completely awesome when you pull it off.
Aside from all this technical stuff, the game has plenty to offer in terms of content. There are 12 completely different levels in Original mode but then there is Chronicle Mode with 2048 different situations for players to face, giving more than enough replay value to the game. Each Chronicle mode level has a Goal associated with it that player or players have to satisfy to “liberate” the system. the only drawback is that in the version I have played, unlocking all of the levels does not unlock new bosses and other areas – all areas are available from the get go unlike the versions in Japan where players in the community have to player the game to get those unlocked. Despite that Chronicle Mode gives a unique dimension and deep content to the game as there are environments, enemies, bosses and even music not found in the rest of the game so exploring it offers a treat just about every time. Some of the goals are very difficult to tackle, such as 1 Credit Rule systems where you have to be something like six levels all on one credit. It took my five weeks of practice to clear one of those but it was very satisfying when I did it, in front of a crowd as well. I also have found that you don’t need to be a seasoned player to enjoy it either. My son and daughter, ages six and three respectively, have made it their go-to game every time they visit the arcade now when it used to be all about my racing games like Tokyo Drift. My son, who is a fan of racing games like Mario Kart and Excite Bots or shooters like Earth Defense Force has told me its his favorite game to play and he’s even drawn up the bosses and the spacecraft to play with at home, while humming the soundtrack. I didn’t even push him on it either, he just decided to play the game one day while visiting and he became a fan himself.
It is obvious that I am a big fan of the game but it is for good reason – it has turned me into one. The levels and enemies are well-designed and properly balanced for difficulty, the game is very fun to play alone or as a group and ultimately it is satisfying. That is because it takes practice and skill to play, where death in the game has a harsher consequence than just starting over at the most recent checkpoint. It is a game for gamers with depth beyond Angry Birds or the latest Call of Duty. It doesn’t need a fancy storyline to entertain, just solid game mechanics as mentioned above that reward players who practice the game and explore its vast offerings. It is a real shame that the arcade version is a big rarity outside of Japan as no home version, whether its on the PSP which this was based on or the iPad version can touch.
Using the advantage offered by arcade cabinets, DariusBurst AC allows dual screen play to get as close to a seamless image as possible. This gives you a much larger than normal play area that can fit in all of the hectic action and it offers a greater sense of proportion of the bosses. The screens make it feel cinematic in nature, especially when a boss like Iron Fossil enters the scene. The only way to get this at home is build your own arcade cabinet. Aside from that, the game runs at a consistently smoother framerate and the interplanetary environments are a specatcle to see at times. The downside is that the geometric detail and texture resolution isn’t the greatest and it is obvious that assets were re-used and only slightly upgraded from the original PSP version.Great effects from the explosions and burst lasers however.
The sound in this game is downright incredible. Unfortunately because of the game’s rarity it was overlooked for Soundtrack of the Year in Video Games for 2010 or 2011 – Zuntata put together a masterpiece that is not fully conveyed on the CD or ITunes soundtracks of the game that you can buy. The tracks transition perfectly from one sitation to the next which I am not used to hearing in a shooter game like this. The sound effects are channeled through the special sound system that relies a good deal on bass (or the Body Sonic System as they call it) built into the seat. I had to turn the bass down to around 30% due to the complaints – when I first got it and set it to 60% the alarm that goes off when a boss appears was shaking the walls three stores away from ours. It’s perhaps too powerful but I don’t mind the over compensation.
Nothing to complain about – the Sanwa joysticks control the ship just fine and I usually manage to dodge enemy firepower and fodder without a problem, except for the occasional mixup on my own part. There are only three buttons to do everything else and the extra function of the Burst Laser was a nice little surprise.
As mentioned, the design allows the game to use two monitors and thanks to the seat people can play in comfort. The canopy makes it feel like a cockpit cabinet but the mostly open back keeps it from being a “den of iniquity”. Lighting on the cabinet is minimal – the marquee lights up and there are red LED alert lights that go off when a boss appears. The cabinet is covered in artwork which has a holographic sheen to it as well; headphone ports allow a player to zone out from the rest of the arcade although I have yet to see anyone try those out side from myself. One problem area we have had with this however is the coin slot design. Why it happens on occasion I am not sure but we still occasionally get annoying coin jams inside the unit which can become bad enough that we have to pull part of the control panel apart to unjam it. We had resolved the problem when we were on tokens but after switching to quarters it has occurred again so it might be a problem with the coin mech. I also have not heard of others who encountered the problem so it could be an anomaly with our cabinet. Excepting that I would go a full two thumbs up.
I find this game completely intriguing and fun to play, even more so with multiple players.It’s the deepest arcade game I’ve played since Gauntlet Dark Legacy and I have barely scratched the surface in exploring the content in Chronicle Mode. I can’t dock it any points just because occasional players decide that its ok to run straight into enemies. that being said, its a game you need to practice at to become really good at.
If you are a gamer then yes, absolutely. If you are a casual gamer, I suggest you give it a chance, particularly with Infinite Lives mode. There is a lot here that rewards players and it’s worth it.
KNOWN LOCATIONS IT CAN BE FOUND AT:
(If you sight a DBAC machine, please let us know where to find it so we can add it to the list below!)
Casino Arcade – London, UK
Round 1 USA – City of Industry, CA USA (EX Version!)
Timezone – Surfer’s Paradise, AUS
The Game Grid Arcade – West Valley City, UT USA
Official Taito trailer for DBAC
Footage of the English version of the game at the Casino Arcade in London
Game footage showing 4 players taking on a boss
More 4 player footage as they traverse a level
15 minutes of DBAC footage, and it also shows the Chronicle Mode in action from the beginning.
ARCADE HEROES STORIES:
Darius Burst Another Chronicle cabinet revealed (July 2010)
Screenshots for the new Darius and Pengo (July 2010)
See the new Darius Burst in action Friday (August 2010)
See Darius Burst Another Chronicle in action (August 2010)
Article: The Player — Japanese Queuing for Arcade! (August 2010)
JAMMA 2010: New games, hardware and ideas that could shake things up (September 2010)
More footage from the 48th JAMMA Expo (September 2010)
Taito’s Fall Product show (UPDATED) (November 2010)
Some Darius Burst Arcade news (November 2010)
Darius Burst: Another Chronicle English version coming soon (January 2011)
Location Testing Dariusburst Another Chronicle (September 2011)