Video Game: Darius

Delicious mechanical fish.

"I've always wanted a thing called tuna sashimi!"

Darius is a series of side-scrolling Shoot Em Ups developed by Taito.

One of the series' most distinguishing features is its bosses. Bosses tend to be huge, robotic versions of marine life; for instance, King Fossil and Dual Shears from the original Darius are a giant coelacanth and a giant lobster, respectively.

The Darius series has had many incarnations, including:
  • Darius (Arcade, 1986)
    Perhaps best well-known for its unusual setup consisting of three screens lined up horizontally. Got multiple ports on the PC Engine:
    • Darius Plus - The only SuperGrafx-enhanced game also compatible with the regular system.
    • Darius Alpha - A limited edition with only the bosses.
    • Super Darius - An Updated Re-release on CD-ROM with new bosses.
  • Darius II (Arcade, 1988)
    Uses the same three-screen setup as the first game (and also The Ninja Warriors), but also came in a two-screen variant. Got ported to the Genesis/MegaDrive and Master System under the title Sagaia and to the PC-Engine CD under the title Super Darius II. It was later ported to the Sega Saturn under the original title.
    • Sagaia (Game Boy, 1991) - A compilation of levels and bosses from the first two games, with no stage selection.
  • Syvalion (Arcade/Sharp X68000/SNES, 1988)
    A spin-off game but still part of the series. Was re-released in 2006 as a part of Taito Legends 2
  • Darius+ (Amiga, Atari ST, ZX Spectrum, 1989)
    A home computer version released by The Edge, more closely resembling R-Type. It only featured five bosses from the Darius series, one of which is a scaled-down version of another one.
  • Darius Twin (SNES/SFC, 1991)
    The first of two console-exclusive original Darius games. Less punishing than other titles (that is, until the last stage), but fewer branching paths.
  • Darius Force / Super Nova (SNES/SFC, 1993)
    The second of two console-exclusive original Darius games. Slower-paced than other titles in the series, has a dark and moody tone in comparison, and utilizes R-Type-style checkpoints that you respawn at when you die.
  • Darius Gaiden (Arcade, 1994)
    Uses a normal-sized screen. Contains pretty boss explosions and very weird music. Ported to the Saturn, PS1, and PC, then to PS2, Xbox and PC (again) via the compilation disc Taito Legends 2. Unfortunately for some players, the Taito Legends 2 port prevents you from achieving extremely fast autofire via Button Mashing.
    • Darius Gaiden Extra (Arcade)
      An apparently official ROM Hack with rearranged stages, much faster autofire, and if you start a game on the player 2 side, you will do a 28-stage mode in which you do all of the stages, instead of just 7 of them.
  • G-Darius (Arcade, 1997)
    The first game in the series with fully 3D graphics (before Darius Burst 12 years later), which allows for some freakishly huge bosses, leading to many Battleship Raids. One of its most distinguishing features is the "Alpha Beam" system, which if fired at a boss can result in a Beam-O-War that grows bigger until it covers the entire screen. Also ported to Saturn, PS1, PC, and PS2.
  • Darius R (Game Boy Advance, 2001)
    A shorter, single-screen remix of the original with music and enemies from various games in the series. Published by PCCW Japan, a company known previously and since as Jaleco.
  • Darius Burst (PlayStation Portable, 2009); ported to iOS in 2012 as Second Prologue.
    • Darius Burst: Another Chronicle (an enhanced wide-screen arcade port of the PSP game, 2010)
    • Darius Burst: Another Chronicle EX (an updated arcade version, 2011)

Has nothing to do with a certain Persian king or League of Legends champion.

We are now rushing into Example Zone. Be on your guard!

  • Abnormal Ammo: One of the attacks of the Embryon, the boss of Nu stage in G-Darius, fires what is essentially a smaller, stripped down version of Eclipse Eye, the first boss of the game. They also fire off their own shot to boot.
  • Affectionate Parody: Akkanvader/Space Invaders '95: Attack of the Lunar Loonies is mostly a parody of Space Invaders, but it references Darius a few times. Bubble Symphony has a world themed after the Darius games, and even has the "WARNING: A HUGE BATTLESHIP" thing as well, along with a boss that parodies both the Yamato (an actual World War II ship) and the whole "mechanical seafood" thing simultaneously. What's more, Bubble Memories references the boss warning with "WARNING: ROOM GUARDER ____ IS APPROACHING FAST" at every boss fight. Bust-A-Move 2 had CR 20-100190 Mechanical Prototype Bubblen as the final boss, complete with the "WARNING: A HUGE BATTLESHIP" intro.
    • Actually, Yamato was a boss in Darius II, complete with a hermit crab Thiima wearing the bridge as a shell.
  • All Just a Dream: the ending for Zone Y in Darius II.
  • Amazing Technicolor Battlefield - G-Darius' "Genesis" stage.
  • Ascended Glitch: Manually Button Mashing the fire button in Darius Gaiden will yield a much faster rate of fire than the built-in autofire. The Saturn port allows you to enable this via a code. There is a ROM Hack called Darius Gaiden Extra which has this rapid rapid-fire as the default, but its status as an official game is debatable.
  • Aspect Ratio: When Darius and Darius II were released in arcades, they were infamous for using multiple monitors to achieve an exceptionally wide aspect ratio. Both games use three 4:3 screens laid side by side, resulting in an aspect ratio of 12:3 (or 4:1), giving the Silver Hawks and their enemies a large amount of horizontal space. Darius II also comes in a more compact two-screen format for 8:3 play. However, subsequent games simply stuck to more standard ratios; it was not until 2009 that Darius began to once again use any remotely widescreen aspect ratios, with the release of Dariusburst on the PSP, which uses a 16:9 ratio. Taito would then bring back the multiple monitor gimmick for Dariusburst Another Chronicle, which uses two widescreen monitors for a 32:9 ratio.
  • Bait-and-Switch Boss: Sort of, at least in-game, in the Mu and Xi zones in G-Darius. Our heroes come upon a four-spiked orb in the core of Kazumn. Once you play to the end of Nu, you'll know this orb is the main ingredient of the Embryon, the Thiima's leader. Before Sameluck and Lutia can actually engage it, though, it teleports away and summons either Heavy Arms Shell (Mu) or Accordion Hazard (Xi) in its place. Then again, the warning klaxon from before you even SEE the orb DID mention the actual boss by name...
    • There's also the large, unnamed battleship that appears in the Delta and Zeta zones, which you even get to go inside of in certain routes. In Delta, it releases a crystal containing Dual Horn, and in Zeta, it attempts to attack the mysterious comet that is actually Absolute Defender, who then blows the battleship away in a laser barrage.
  • Battleship Raid: Revenge Shark in Super Darius II, Great Alloy Lantern in Darius Twin, Peace Destroyer in Darius Force, Titanic Lance in Darius Gaiden, most bosses in G-Darius (especially the two Fossils).
  • Beam-O-War:
    • G-Darius''s Alpha Beam. When met with a boss's Beta Beam, it turns into a Button Mashing contest during which both beams can grow until they cover the whole screen.
    • Burst has the Burst Counter and Side Counter mechanics, which deal extreme damage and a huge point multiplier, but unless you are using the Genesis ship (which is taken straight from G-Darius), your timing must be exact or the counter will fail, costing you shield at best and an entire life at worst.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Many in the series, particularly in G-Darius where every single one of the ending is either this or a Downer Ending.
    • In the Mu ending, Sameluck sacrifices himself to protect Lutia from Heavy Arms Shell's last-ditch attack. Lutia herself ends up stranded on Darius, and is understandably grief-wracked...until a mysterious stranger approaches her. Several fans swear that this is a reincarnated Sameluck.
    • The Lambda ending has Lutia's Silver Hawk caught by one of Lightning Coronatus' electric arcs and had to bail out. Sameluck, rather than abandoning her, ejects out of his intact Silver Hawk to embrace her. The red Silver Hawk continues on to a planet without a pilot as credits roll.
      • The same Japanese PSX file explaining the endings says that he's rescuing her, and is able to bring her with him to Darius. Still counts, though, at least in terms of them never being able to return to Amnelia.
    • Omicron ending has the heroes finally defeat G.T. before coming home. Cue the Belser army appropriating the wreckage of G.T. This is canonical, as Belser are the future antagonists. It also counts as bittersweet for the same reason as Lambda: The heroes have no way to return to Amnelia, since the Hawks are too low on fuel.
  • Bolivian Army Ending: The Zone H ending in Second Prologue.
  • Boss Game: Darius Alpha.
  • Boss Rush: G-Darius has the appropriately-named "Vs. Boss" mode. Darius Burst Another Chronicle also has boss rush modes.
  • Boss Warning Siren: The game has "A huge battleship is approaching fast!" in most (if not all) of its titles to herald the arrival of its various fish-inspired bosses.
  • Bullet Hell: Darius Gaiden and possibly G-Darius. Made worse by neither game having small hitboxes.
    • This Flash game on Twitter. All seems to be going well until the Fail Wh... I mean Great Thing shows up...
  • Continuity Cameo: Zone Lambda in G-Darius has what seems to be Titanic Lance, a particularly famous ancient squid That One Boss from Darius Gaiden, embedded on a cliffside, apparently crash-landing intact. Quite notably, it's so huge the game can only show it's head end; the fighter you're in is probably the size of...half its eye?
  • Continuing Is Painful: In general, dying takes away a lot of firepower. In some games, you lose whatever powerups you have since your last major upgrades (4-6 per category), or your main shot loses several levels. In the cases of Darius II and Darius Force, you lose all of your powerups. It's even worse than in Gradius because powerups are less frequent; it's not uncommon for a beginner to be stuck coasting through the latter half of Darius Gaiden, for example, with the lowest shot level with no hope of ever getting the laser or wave shot back. Darius Twin averts this, letting you keep your firepower.
    • Averted in Darius Burst, so you don't lose your current power ups (minus your your shield) when you lose a life or even continue from a Game Over.
  • Converging Stream Weapon: Darius Burst Another Chronicle allows two players to intersect their laser weapon, making it merge into a larger, stronger beam.
  • Copy And Paste Environments: Darius has a lot of Palette Swap stages.
  • Darker and Edgier: Darius Force
  • Death Is a Slap on the Wrist: As mentioned above in Continuing Is Painful, this is only present in Twin and Burst. As Twin was an SNES title, players who started there and moved on to other titles were probably quite unsettled after discovering death is generally a sucker punch to your powerups.
  • Deflector Shields: Absolute Defender, one of the tier 3 bosses in G-Darius, has this as its main schtick. As long as the shield's active, NOTHING hurts it, not even Alpha Beams. First, you have to overload the shield generator on its lower jaw, then get in your hits before the generator goes back up. Thankfully, each time you blow out the generator, it takes longer to come back.
  • Detachment Combat: Titanic Lance in Gaiden could do this with part of its shell, and Eternal Triangle from G-Darius could do it with his whole body.
    • The octopus from Darius+ also had an eye that would detach from the body, but this is more of a defense to make it harder to hit the eye. However, the eye sometime glitches, making the boss fight impossible.
  • Dual Boss: Emperor Fossil and Queen Fossil in Darius Twin. Darius Burst Another Chronicle has Dual Spin.
  • Downer Ending: Two endings in Darius Gaiden:
    • Zone V: Your ship, which has been underwater fighting one of the Final Bosses, gets destroyed by the crushing pressure of the sea.
    • Zone Z: Due to the severe damage Planet Darius itself sustained from battles, along with the fighting inside of the planet's core itself, the players escape Planet Darius as it violently explodes.
    • Also, in the first Darius, the two-player ending for Zone V. Yes, you wipe out the Belser Army fortress that Strong Shell was guarding...by kamikaze attack.
    • The ending to Zone W in Darius II has the players return to a planet Oruga where human civilization is long gone due to time dilation.
    • In G-Darius in the final Zone Nu, at least according to a file hidden somewhere on the Japanese PSX disc, After you beat the Thiima archon The Embryon, its creation energies flare out and interact...badly...with the Silver Hawk's omnidestruction-capable All-Nothing systems. Sameluck and Lutia are caught up in the storm, and are only able to share one final kiss before they're absorbed. But then again, it would seem they reincarnated back in the past as PLANET DARIUS ITSELF...
    • Xi however, pulls an even less subtle punch. Apparently, Accordion Hazard's explosion was so strong it engulfed both crafts. With no hope of survival, they flew close to each other. The next shot is a single "soul" in the shape of a silver hawk flying away. Cue the credit roll.
  • Drop-In-Drop-Out Multiplayer: Can be turned off in Another Chronicle at the beginning of the player's or players' credit, locking out players from joining partway through.
  • Dynamic Difficulty: Darius Gaiden has a nasty version of this. Each layer of stages has a default difficulty level; powering up your main shot will set the game difficulty to that level. It's recommended that you stop powering up after your fourth stage, as this keeps the last few stages managable...oh wait, you just died and now you have reduced power? Well, too bad for you, the difficulty level never goes down, so you have to stay powered down. Deal with it.
  • Earth-Shattering Kaboom: In addition to a certain Darius Gaiden ending, the events preceding G-Darius involved a scuffle between Planet Amnelia and one of its moons, Blazar, over who should have jurisdiction over another moon, Mahsah. Someone on the Amnelian side got the bright idea to use a nightmarishly powerful weapon, All-Nothing, to settle the dispute by obliterating Blazar. It was this act, by the way, that alarmed the Thiima into their attempt to conquer Amnelia...
  • Easy-Mode Mockery: Darius Burst Another Chronicle has an Infinite Ships mode, which provides all players with infinite lives, but costs additonal credits to play (the idea being to split the cost with up to three extra players) and invalidates any scores achieved with it.
  • Emotionless Girl: Lutia in the events before G-Darius, thanks to the first Thiima attack killing off the rest of her family.
  • Engrish: A lot, but most notoriously in the endings to Darius II and Darius Gaiden.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin - The boss "Red Crab" is...a red crab. And let's not even bother mentioning "Octopus" or "Cuttle Fish".
  • Fake Difficulty: In Darius II, your ship is scaled up in size from the original. Your enemies aren't.
  • Fluffy the Terrible: One of the possible final bosses of Darius II is an Angel Fish called "Little Stripes". In the arcade edition, anyway. The PC-Engine port, however, has several new bosses to take Little Stripes's place. It helps that Little Stripes appeared as a third-tier boss in that system's own Darius I port.
  • Flying Seafood Special: Almost all the bosses in the series are Humongous Mecha sea creatures, and most of them are fought in mid-air.
    • The SNES Darius game Darius Force averts this with some bosses: Zone O's final boss is what appears to be a Humongous Mecha ape/human skeleton. Another of the final zones has you up against a mecha-pterodactyl .
  • Gaiden Game: The game Syvalion is meant to be a spinoff of the series, with you helping the people of Planet Darius halfway through the game. The metal dragon makes a cameo in Darius Burst
  • Gainax Ending: Some of the endings in G Darius are quite weird.
  • Giant Enemy Crab: Some of the bosses. Most of the time, they attack your weak point for massive damage to your lives.
  • Giant Mook: All of the popcorn enemies in zone Beta of G-Darius are half again as large as they should be. They also award more points than normal (e.g. dispatching an entire squadron will net you 1000 more points than for a squadron of the same goons at normal size in other zones).
  • Guest Fighter: The Silver Hawk appears as a playable ship in Space Invaders 95: Attack of Lunar Loonies (the Good Tatio-Prouding Fighter Plane!) and Space Invaders: Get Even. It's also a DLC vessel for Space Invaders: Infinity Gene.
  • Heartbeat Soundtrack: Darius Force has this for the title screen and it later reprises for the final boss theme of Galst Vic
  • He Was Right There All Along: The Embryon from G-Darius. The background actually shows it being formed, while your character revolves around it destroying mooks.
  • Homage: Darius Burst Another Chronicle has the ships from Darius Force/Super Nova and Darius Gaiden, among others. They play the same way as they did from their source games.
  • Kill It with Fire: Fire Fossil's preferred mode of attack is lots of incendiary weapons.
  • Lightning Reveal: Notably used in the the first half of Zone Omicron, the last of the final stages in G-Darius. Set during a thunderstorm, the background is totally dark, with flashes of lightning showing the ruins of a devastated city. The very last lightning strike reveals that the player was being watched by reoccurring final boss G.T. (Great Thing). It's a rather eerie atmosphere, further established by the track, Kimera II.
  • Loose Canon: Twin and Force/Super Nova seams to have become this. Syvalion on the other hand always was.
  • Meaningful Name: Pretty much every single boss. For example, the (insert adjective) Fossils are based off a coelacanth, a "living fossil".
  • Multiple Endings: Many games in the series have branching paths, with each one having its own ending. Darius Twin, which has only one final stage, instead requires you to fulfill other conditions to get different endings. Syvalion, meanwhile, has one hundred endings.
  • Names to Run Away From Really Fast: Many of the enemy battleships get this, such as "Demon Sword", "Deadly Crescent", "Odious Trident", "Hysteric Empress", "Death Wings", "Violent Ruler", etc.
  • Nintendo Hard: Naturally, since it's a Shoot 'em Up series.
  • No Ontological Inertia: Defeating Great Thing in Darius Gaiden removes all traces of the conflict.
  • Palette Swap: Although they did have different attacks, Darius Gaiden had Golden Ogre and Storm Causer, G-Darius had Queen Fossil and Fire Fossil. Even more so in G-Darius is branching path system in every level, where each area led to a different colored version of the same boss with a different attack pattern.
    • Darius+, having only five bosses, used palette swap to make a boss look much different.
  • Piranha Problem: Fatty Glutton. Yes, his name may sound laughable, but he's usually That One Boss in each of the games he's appeared in.
  • Power Up Letdown: Once you max out your regular shot (usually a column of shots three shots high), your next power-up is a very thin laser; the plus side is that it'll keep going through enemies, rather than dissipating on impact. It'll take you a few more power-ups to get to the wave, which can easily power up to be wider than the maximized missile shot.
    • It appears that in Darius Gaiden, the white bullet + wave shot (second to last powerup), trumps the pure wave shot (last powerup) by quite a large margin that pro players advise dying to reset the attack powerup counter. It's often said to make the difference up to five whole seconds to kill bosses with the white bullet and some superplayers state whether or not they are using this shoot mode.
  • Proud Warrior Race Guy: Apparently, the Belser Army themselves.
  • Recurring Boss: Two of them.
    • (Insert Word Here) Fossil, a coelacanth. Starting with King Fossil from Darius. Usually the first or second boss in the game, and appears in almost every single one of them.
    • Great Thing. A sperm whale with a load of cannons attached to it, and often the Final Boss in every Darius game he's appeared in. Not to mention he's usually incredibly difficult in each game he's in. In Darius Twin, he's an optional second-to-last boss, and is the only boss to have his own specialized music separate from the normal boss music.
  • Red Pilot, Blue Pilot: Red (player 1) is male while Blue (player 2) is female. Darius Burst inverted this. Subverted with the 2-player game of Darius Twin whereas the 1-player game involves a green-colored Silver Hawk.
  • Robo Teching: Expect lots of homing lasers of doom in Darius Gaiden and G-Darius, along with all sorts of other nearly-impossible-to-dodge crap that makes the games border on Fake Difficulty.
  • Seldom Seen Species: Many of the bosses are based off obscure sea creatures. Absolute Defender- pinecone fish, Tripod Sardine- tripod fish, Folding Fan- fanfish, The Embryon- sea angel, (insert noun here) Fossil- Coelacanth, Accordion Hazard- Anomalocaris, Brightly Stare- Barrel Eye Fish, etc.
  • Sequential Boss: After you defeat Alloy Lantern in Darius 2, you fly into his mouth to fight another boss. Also done the same way in Darius Twin.
  • Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: "Vermilion Coronatus".
    • Then again, "Red Crowned Seahorse" wouldn't seem like a good name for it either...
      • It's a callback to the first game's "Green Coronatus".
  • Sdrawkcab Name: Proco and Tiat, when put together, is "Taito Corp" spelled backwards.
  • Shielded Core Boss: Absolute Defender from G-Darius, you had to destroy his regenerating shield generator in order to be properly damage him.
  • Shout-Out: The Silver Hawk itself cameos in the relatively obscure game Syvalion.
    • An example from within the series; one of the final zones of Darius Gaiden features a hanger full of mecha in the background. A single one of these units is bright red and features a horn on its head, a possible Shout Out to the signature mech of Gundam antagonist Char Aznable.
    • Darius Burst and Darius Burst After Chronicle has the Glutton bosses, who have a Mook attack that resembles Space Invaders.
  • Space Whale: The recurring boss Great Thing (sperm whale) and Great Force (humpback whale) in Darius Force.
  • Stalked by the Bell: In Darius, if you take too long to defeat a boss, cube-like enemies will appear on the ceiling and floor to harass you. However, skilled players can take advantage of them to milk points from them.
  • Story Branching: The series is all about branching levels that take you to one of several Multiple Endings. The opportunity to choose a level occurs in the middle of the level that you are currently playing.
  • Total Party Kill: Dariusburst Another Chronicle employs a shared lives system; the entire group starts out with 3 lives. This means a party of three or four players getting killed all at the same time once will spell a Game Over.
  • Turns Red: The bosses in Darius Gaiden and G-Darius take on a reddish hue when they are about to be destroyed. Most of them also change their attack pattern to a more vicious one.
  • The Unfought: Whomever or whatever the actual leader of the Belser Army is, though Curious Chandelier in Gaiden is implied to be that leader...or something, it's not quite clear.
  • Unstable Equilibrium: Lose one life and your shot, bomb, and shield sub-levels will go down. If you were right about to upgrade any of them (especially the shot), expect to let out a Precision F-Strike. Some games, like Darius II and Darius Force, have it worse: You lose ALL of your powerups.
  • Updated Re-release: The PC-Engine CD version of Darius has a remixed soundtrack and some new bosses. As well as some bosses that debuted in Darius II (the PC-Engine port of THAT replaced all of the transplants, along with the sixth-tier Grand Octopus, with completely new bosses in turn).
  • Wave Motion Gun: The Alpha Beam and Beta Beam in G Darius.
    • How massive can they get?, A image of the alpha beam at it's biggest was the trope's page image. Mind you that your ship is about the same size as most other shmup ships.
  • Weaponized Exhaust: Titanic Lance and Odious Trident from Darius Gaiden, Death Wings from G-Darius
  • A Winner Is You: defeat Vermillion Coronatus in Darius Gaiden and you'll get...a screen depicting that you just played a game and the "pilots" are teenage kids (in the shape of Proco and Tiat) sighing a relief, accompanied by the caption: "I finally beat Darius Gaiden!"
    • That's actually a callback to the ending for Zone Y's boss, Cuttlefish, in the first Darius.
  • Word Salad Title: Various boss names, among them "Eight Foot Umbrella", "Tripod Sardine", "Accordion Hazard", and of course "Risk Storage".
    • It Makes Sense in Context, as Eight Foot Umbrella refers to a webbed octopus (an eight-legged creature that looks like an umbrella), Tripod Sardine refers to a tripod fish (a fish species that "stands" on its elongated fins on the ocean floor to catch prey), Risk Storage refers to the gulper eel (an eel with a very large mouth-to-body ratio, swallowing is identical to "storing" stuff inside the body right?), an eel that can randomly shoot stuff from its mouth, hence "risky", and Accordion Hazard refers to the Anomalocaris (which has a segmented body similar to an accordion's creases).
  • Your Head A Splode: In G-Darius, damaging Tripod Sardine enough causes his head to be blown off! He still survives, by the way.
    • A few medium-sized Mooks behave the same way in Darius Gaiden - destroy their head, and they switch attacks.
    • You can blow up what seems to be the Embryon's head, but it'll just get replaced a few seconds later. You want to aim at its "heart".