Taito's latest shoot 'em up has seen a ton of downloadable content so far. Seeing as I only recently discovered it, I figured I should take a look at what it's all about so please, enjoy reading my thoughts on the Taito and Sega packs.
Night Striker (Taito)
This first piece of DLC allows you to play as the Inter Gray from 1989's Space Harrier-inspired arcade game Night Striker. Unfortunately, the original game never came out in North America but being able to play as this new ship adds an interesting new dynamic to the world of Dariusburst. Besides your normal shot, you can charge a meter that allows you to launch missiles which automatically gravitate towards enemy forces. Your basic shot does this as well but it only fires weak bullets that head into enemies. These weak projectiles only deploy when you move so it's pretty cool that you have further incentive to keep weaving through bullets. I really enjoy the included music in this DLC as it's very reminiscent of early Mega Man games.
Metal Black (Taito)
Back in 1991, Taito released Metal Black in Japanese arcades. Although it never came out here, western audiences can play it on Taito Legends 2 for PlayStation 2 or Xbox. It's a very cool horizontal shoot 'em up that was originally developed as Darius III so it's a great fit for this latest Darius game. Here, you control the Black Fly that can unleash more powerful shots by collecting power-ups, fire a strong focused beam of energy, and lightning that fills the screen around you. Of course, you have to be careful not to run out of energy. The Inter Gray is a bit more technical but the Black Fly is definitely a capable ship for casual shmup fans.
I've been a huge fan of Taito's Ray series ever since I played RayCrisis on the original PlayStation. As the first in the series, RayForce was quite innovative with its lock-on laser system. Thankfully, the X-Lay's weapons remain intact in this DLC. Flying around while trying to hover your target on top of dangerous foes just feels awesome. It definitely brings back a lot of great memories. Back to the original RayForce, it went under many names (for example; Galactic Attack, Layer Section, and Gunlock) but it wasn't too common here in North America. As far as I know, the only release of it was for Sega Saturn. However, I imported a European version of Taito Legends 2 for Xbox and now I can play it whenever I wish. You can check out my RayForce gameplay video to see what it's all about.
Space Harrier (Sega)
I mentioned Space Harrier earlier and here it is! I still have a copy of this sucker on Sega Master System. It's an absolutely ridiculous game as you control a dude with a laser cannon who takes on giant enemies such as dragons and mammoths. Its third-person perspective as you fly into the screen was very cool for its time and it's still a fun game to play today. Heck, it's even a featured mini-game in Sega's latest hit: Yakuza 0. Anyway, you control the Harrier here as if you're playing a multidirectional shooter. Basically, he fires in the opposite direction of where he's moving but locks into position when you hold the fire button. Also, his shots weaken as you hold it so you have to constantly juggle where you're aiming. It's tricky but you get a helper drone whenever your meter is filled enough.
Galaxy Force II (Sega)
To be honest, I was never a big fan of Galaxy Force. I still own a copy of Galaxy Force II on Sega Genesis but Space Harrier (which released a few years earlier) is much more enjoyable. That being said, playing as the TRY-Z in Dariusburst is a lot of fun. Its simple array of projectiles isn't too impressive but its special move allows you to roll out of harm's way as you fire a wall of missiles. Avoiding enemies during this move will grant you extra points so it's an overall technical ship that I highly recommend for shoot 'em up experts.
Fantasy Zone (Sega)
Who doesn't love Fantasy Zone? The classic Defender-style cute 'em up is one of Sega's most memorable titles and it holds up fantastically thirty years later. One of its best features is the shop system where you can redeem collected coins for power-ups. So, it makes me happy to say that you can do the same here. You pilot Opa-Opa who can shoot straight ahead and drop bombs just like in the original. As you destroy your enemies, they'll drop coins that you can collect and redeem via a menu in the bottom-left of the screen. To top it off, the super-catchy music from the original plays as you blast enemies to smithereens. Although I've discussed many incredible ships in this article so far, I think Fantasy Zone's Opa-Opa might just be my favourite. I saved the best for last!
It's awesome to see Dariusburst expand its content with all of these classic ships. Stay tuned for my next article where I'll be taking a look at the Cave and Eighting DLC packs. Have you tried Dariusburst? What do you think? Let's talk in the comments below.