Even if titlescreen says 1986, Darius was released in February 1987 in Japan.
Darius was unique in the fledgling genre for having a game screen three times longer than the usual size, and thus requiring three screens to be arranged side-by-side in order to play.
The player flies a small spacecraft called a Silver Hawk, which is also distinctive in being highly detailed in design - indeed, Taito devised mock blueprints for it. The Silver Hawks are a trademark of the series.
Another trademark of the series is the unique branching level structure. The levels are arranged in a large binary tree, and at the end of each level, the player must choose one of two paths to follow. This means that there are many different paths that can be taken through the game.
The heroes' names in Darius series 'PROCO' and 'TIAT' backwards spell 'TAITO CORP'.
The first stage music is a remix of the "Metal Soldier Isaac II
" intro music (1985).
Pony Canyon / Scitron released a limited-edition soundtrack album for this game (Darius - PCCB-00093) on August 21, 1992.
Zuntata Records released a limited-edition soundtrack album for this game (Zuntata History L'ab-normal 1st - ZTTL-0038) on April 1, 1999.