Thanks to ININ Games for the review code
Title: DARIUSBURST Another Chronicle EX+
Release Date: 07/27/2021
In this modern reimagining of the classic Darius series, you take control of the Silver Hawk as it goes off in search of threats to the galaxy! Being an arcade port, there really isn’t much of a story at all, and even the endings presented in routes are little more than surface level story at best.
Dariusburst has always been a game that fascinated me, mainly due to the completely strange way in which the presentation is converted in ports. Just like the original Darius, DariusBurst was an arcade game with a super wide monitor and vibrating controls, though instead of multiple smaller monitors combining into one like that Arcade classic, it’s just one ultrawide display. While the PC version works fantastically if you’re crazy rich enough to have an ultrawide monitor around, I found Chronicle Saviors’ Arcade mode to be rather lacking, mainly due to how it crunches everything into a 16:9 aspect ratio while still leaving plenty of blank space, and here in Another Chronicle, that’s still the case, unfortunately, though the vibration manages to carry over surprisingly well, if a bit excessive.
Make no mistake though, what’s visible on-screen is fairly well done, with the series moving to 3D rather nicely, and the super-wide view allowing for plenty of visibility on both ends of the screen, along with leading to impressive boss fights of scale. The differing stages all look rather decent, if nothing groundbreaking, and the ship designs are still excellent, with a lot of the classic ships from the original arcade games returning alongside some newer ones like the Murakumo.
Easily the biggest standout of the presentation here comes from the glorious soundtrack, which consists of a very, very wide range of tunes, consisting of classic melodies kept intact, some classics getting remixed, to super epic boss songs from the Taito Zuntata band. While I definitely still prefer the nature of the arcade soundtracks more than the choir-heavy newer stuff found here, you still have excellent music accompanying you nevertheless, and the songs found in the new event stages are equally great.
Dariusburst AC is based off the original Dariusburst Arcade version, based on new enhancements given to it over the years from various Arcade updates, along with some of the tweaks from Chronicle Saviors and brand new additions for this edition in particular. Thus, you have four main modes on offer, with all of them relying on the core horizontal shooting gameplay that the series is known for, displayed in an ultra wide view just like the original arcade game.
The first two modes of importance consist of Original Mode and EX mode, pretty much the standard main game to any Darius title, consisting of the usual routine of short stages leading to a boss fight, then leading to a choice between two routes after a level in order to reach an eventual ending. Both modes are fairly similar, with EX consisting of a new batch of harder stages to go through, while the original mode is pretty standard. Either way, you have multiple ships to choose from, some of which being from the older games (Darius, Darius II/Sagaia, and Gaiden) and consisting of old abilities such as the black hole bomb or homing missiles, and others being brand new, taking advantage of the titular burst mechanic.
Replacing a typical bomb attack from the older games, the burst mechanic allows your ship to charge up overtime, allowing you to unleash a devastating attack when the meter is full. Being able to flip your ship horizontally at the press of a button is also here, and both additions come in handy when dealing with waves of enemies, made more apparent due to the wide horizontal view. For gameplay, it works as well as you’d expect, offering plenty of space to position and move your ship while fighting the big waves of enemies and the gargantuan bosses, though the inability to zoom the screen in any way is a bummer.
Next up is Chronicle Mode, which is not to be confused with the behemoth of a mode from Chronicle Saviors, which not only formatted the game to 16:9 proper for new stages designed with that viewpoint, but also even added a bunch of crossover stages from other shooters, along with a tooooooooooon of content to enjoy in general. Here in AC, it’s still the arcade view, and the stages here mostly consist of an assortment of gauntlets, with none of the crossover or new stages from CS in sight. Some just have a bunch of bosses back to back, and some mix stages and bosses together, and the main goal is to clear said all the gauntlets in a solar system, which is still quite a task when there’s a lot of them to tackle. Some bosses even only show up here in this mode, and not in Original/EX, so this is definitely the most content-packed mode here, even if it is a lot more reserved compared to Chronicle Saviors’ variant.
Last but not least, is the Event mode, my favorite mode of the entire package. Here you get to go through another set of stage gauntlets, but these are based off the actual timed event periods from the Arcade version’s original run, and thus bring these easily lost challenges home for the first time ever! Even better, Pyramid added a bunch of brand new EX events to the mix, consisting of brand new gauntlets and challenges to tackle, with plenty of incentive to keep besting your score and going up the leaderboards! These are incredibly grueling, and while you can still technically “beat” these by credit feeding, they won’t help your score nearly as much as playing well, which will require a test of ultimate shmup experience not unlike some of the trophies in this game.
However, the coolest part of Dariusburst as a whole has to come from the four-player local co-op, which is available for EVERY single stage and game mode in AC!. While I was only able to play with one other person for the sake of this review, it was still super enjoyable, and we had next to no problems working together to clear the challenges in front of us. Considering how some modes like Original even allow you to play with infinite lives, (at the expense of not saving scores to the leaderboards) it actually makes this shmup a really accessible one to casually enjoy with a group of friends, with the continue-focused option available for purists and scorechasers to mess with. Otherwise, at the end of the day, this is pretty much the luxury Arcade experience brought home with some extra bells and whistles, without going nearly as far as Chronicle Saviors, and with the goal of being an arcade port, it’s a very good one, even if it doesn’t do much more than that.
In conclusion, I definitely found Another Chronicle to be a pretty decent iteration of Dariusburst, and one that definitely enhanced my favorite mode from other ports by a lot, leading to plenty of scorechasing fun thanks to the robust event mode, a lot of boss mayhem in Chronicle mode, and the two arcade modes being the same fun romps they’ve always been. However, a lot of my problems and gripes from Chronicle Saviors still remain, most notably the lack of visual options, thus causing you to be stuck with a super wide display, and being unable to zoom it in by any means.
In fact, since this variant focuses on the arcade experience, rather than the original console stuff CS introduced, that means you don’t even have the ability to play 16:9 formatted stages, making the lack of any visual options even more frustrating. Still, with four player co-op, a variety of great ships, and the same great Darius fun to expect from the series, this manages to be a very fun romp for scorechasing and boss rush fanatics, even if it doesn’t have much else for casual players just wanting to reach the credits and call it a day, though it at least leads to being an accessible entry point for co-op action, and is a game I can definitely recommend to people with access to a four-player setup, especially since you can’t really play the arcade game in person here in the US.
I give DARIUSBURST Another Chronicle EX+ a 7 out of 10.