Darius+ was the first conversion of the Darius series (initially released by Taito in 1987 for the arcades). The game was developed in 1989 for the Atari ST, Commodore Amiga and ZX Spectrum. It was only marketed in Europe and was heavily altered from the original (Darius) game. This is not to be confused with Darius Plus, a 1990 Darius port for the NEC PC Engine console!
STORY / GAMEPLAY Darius (the original title) was very successful on the arcades due to its three-screen wide display. Edge's software team took ages converting this Taito coin op and, just like the original version, there is no actual plot. The main goal is simple: lay into nasty bug-eyed alien hordes firing every weapon at your disposal. This game features a different weapon system than the other Darius titles. There is a pellet shot which with an upgrade turns to a strong two shot, then next a spread three shot and the large laser. Darius+ is so hard you can never get weapons to match the enemy's! Unlike the other ports this one has been completely redone and it looks a bit more like an R-Type game than anything else. During flight, while destroying certain enemy objects, you can increase the armament of your fighter ship through various power ups (much like the R-Type). After you successfully fly the pattern and destroy the enemies, a huge (aquatic life form) creature will appear. By destroying the creature you can select the next battle zone. At first glance one would assume the bosses are decent ports from Darius. Well, most of them play quite differently than other games as there is a system of armor parts you have to destroy before defeating a given boss. And the worst is that you have to spot where they are and they can only be damaged when its their turn to be shot!
Well, although a good shooter, unfortunately the difficulty of Darius+ is too high to offer more fun or motivation to play more than a few minutes. The ship is so slow moving it's almost impossible to get out of the way in time. And when destroyed, you lose all the extra weapons acquired. And the bosses at the end of each level are impossible to kill when no stronger weaponry is available.
GRAPHICS / SOUND The game has good visuals. The Amiga conversion has up to 32 colors on-screen and up to 4 layers of parallax scrolling. The game runs way smoother compared to the Atari ST counterpart and handles pretty well the high number of sprites (Blitter chip). Much like the Atari ST version, most of the levels have this "sea-bottom" atmosphere but with several Sci-Fi touches. The sprites move fine, but it has not the best framerate we've seen on an Amiga shoot 'em up though. But at least everything is well designed, especially the end-level bosses. In terms of sound, there is a nice music score (a very well composed one, which unfortunately is the same in every World) along with some cool shooting and exploding sampled sound effects.
GAMEPLAY SAMPLE VIDEO
On our video below you may watch both the Atari ST and Amiga OCS versions of the game.
CPU: Motorola MC68000 7.16 MHz MEMORY: 512KB of Chip RAM (OCS chipset - A500), 512 KB of Slow RAM or Trapdoor RAM can be added via the trapdoor expansion, up to 8 MB of Fast RAM or a Hard drive can be added via the side expansion slot. The ECS chipset (A500+) offered 1MB on board to 2MB (extended) of Chip RAM. GRAPHICS: The OCS chipset (Amiga 500) features planar graphics (codename Denise custom chip), with up to 5 bit-planes (4 in hires), allowing 2, 4, 8, 16 and 32 color screens, from a 12bit RGB palette of 4096 colors. Resolutions varied from 320x256 (PAL, non-interlaced, up to 4096 colors) to 640x512 (interlace, up to 4 colors). Two special graphics modes where also included: Extra Half Bright with 64 colors and HAM with all 4096 colors on-screen. The ECS chipset models (Amiga 500+) offered same features but also extra high resolution screens up to 1280x512 pixels (4 colors at once). SOUND: (Paula) 4 hardware-mixed channels of 8-bit sound at up to 28 kHz. The hardware channels had independent volumes (65 levels) and sampling rates, and mixed down to two fully left and fully right stereo outputs