Darius has been delighting shoot 'em up fans for decades and its most recent arcade offering is now newly-upgraded for consoles.
I consider myself a big fan of the Darius franchise as I've been enjoying it for a long time and Dariusburst: Chronicle Saviours remains my highest-scored shoot 'em up so far. Keep in mind; I've reviewed about 100 shmups in the past 7 years so that's a pretty big achievement and you can imagine my excitement when Dariusburst: Another Chronicle EX+ was announced. Unfortunately, my enthusiasm deflated slightly when I booted it up to see that it's merely a slightly-enhanced version of the arcade game because Chronicle Saviours features oodles of content and was well-adapted for playing on consoles. Specifically, it featured the ability to play with the action almost filling the screen as opposed to the 32:9 aspect ratio which is the only option here so get ready to squint if you don't have a massive TV.
Oh, and Chronicle Saviours had awesome DLC that allowed you to play as ships from various shoot 'em ups by developers such as Taito, Sega, Cave, Eighting, and Capcom so it's disappointing that Another Chronicle EX+ doesn't have any sort of similar content.
With all of that out of the way, once I got over my initial disappointment and actually started playing Another Chronicle, I remembered just how fantastic the Darius franchise is. For starters, whereas many modern shmups try to throw in all sorts of mechanics, Dariusburst keeps it simple as all you do is shoot an upgradable shot, hold the Burst attack button to use up some of its stored energy for a powerful shot, and tap a shoulder button to change direction. Additionally, Dariusburst: Another Chronicle EX+ adds an F-Burst attack that allows you to set a stationary turret which shoots a steady laser and it uses the same meter as your regular Burst.
One of the first things that I noticed while playing Dariusburst: Another Chronicle EX+ is that its stages are very cleverly designed to accommodate for this F-Burst attack. For example, enemies will frequently advance in 2 formations so deploying an F-Burst at one then shooting the other is satisfying stuff. There are also narrow passageways to navigate through so strategically using F-Burst may allow you to emerge unscathed. It's such an awesome mechanic and it doesn't feel like it complicates the gameplay at all.
When it comes to content, Dariusburst: Another Chronicle EX+ is basically a port of the arcade version albeit with some added missions. For the unfamiliar, there are 4 modes: Original which features branching paths as in the previous Darius games, Original EX is a tougher version of that, Chronicle Mode has you try to master stages given certain criteria to fill maps, and Event Mode contains score and time attack challenges; 8 of which are exclusive to this release. This is a substantial amount of content but it's still no Chronicle Saviours.
Now that you know all about the core experience, I'll discuss some extras. If you have folks in your life who also enjoy shoot 'em ups then you'll be delighted to hear that you can play with 4 simultaneous players. Plus, for the less-skilled pilots, there's the option to play via Infinite Ships Entry which blocks you from achieving scores but allows you to keep playing regardless of how many ships you lose.
Dariusburst: Another Chronicle EX+ is a fantastic shoot 'em up with one of the most satisfying mechanics in the genre; F-Burst. On the other hand, I can't help but wish it received the same treatment as the far-superior Chronicle Saviours.
- + High quality shmup gameplay that you can expect from the Darius series
- + The best version of the arcade game yet
- + Stages are cleverly designed for F-Burst
- - Generally lacking in content, especially when compared to Chronicle Saviours
- - Could have been much better adapted for playing on console