Darius Force © 1993 Taito Corp.
Darius Force is a side scrolling shooter by Taito, and another episode of the long-running and popular Darius series. This installment is however exclusive to the Super Famicom system (as was 'Darius Twin') and was not ported from an arcade game. Eons have passed since the war against the Belser empire and its sinister army of fish-shaped and crustacean war machines. But history is about to repeat itself, as it often does, and large enemy battleships have started to appear all across the galaxy. The Silver Hawk space fighters are deployed to counter the emerging threat and put an end to this new invasion. Darius Force is the first game in the series to offer a selection of three different ships to choose from, namely the Green Hawk (codename 229X-0001 from Darius), the Purple Hawk (codename FFSA-0019 from Darius II) and the Red Hawk (codename FRSA-6351 and exclusive to Darius Force). Although all ships look fairly similar (albeit a color variant), they however feature different weapons systems which range from average (but balanced) wave shots to powerful (but limited) piercing lasers. In the Darius tradition, each fighter comes equipped with three different weapon systems - a primary gun (wave shot, napalm shot or laser shot), a side weapon (bombs and 6way/round lasers), and a protective shield. Each weapon can be upgraded by collecting colored orbs left behind by certain enemies (or enemy formations) - red for the main and side weapons (red orbs upgrade both weapons at once in this version) and blue for the shield. Interestingly, the side weapon can be switched from bombs to lasers at any time during the game (by pressing the right shoulder button), and, curiously, both primary and side weapons can be fired simultaneously but at the cost of one power level. Additionally, a special red capsule can be collected to unleash a powerful laser beam that swiftly wipes out enemies directly facing the Silver Hawk. Levels also follow another Darius long tradition - each visited zone branches out into two distinct stages. However, Taito dropped the classic pyramidal structure for a flatter layout - put simply, the player can now complete the game by either visiting five, six or seven levels (depending on what path he decides to take). In reality though, the game features no less that fifteen different stages and eleven bosses exclusive to this version - and some levels even include mid-stage branching paths! Darius Force is single player only.
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