G-Darius was originally released for the Japanese arcades in 1997 and was later ported to the PS1 and again to the PS2. G-Darius HD is the fourth installment in the series and the first to use full 3D polygon graphics.
This HD version is a prequel that begins the series’ story; the Amnelia Empire uses a weapon of mass destruction that is destroying a planet! The Thiima are a long-dormant bio-cybernetic race that is believed to defend life in the galaxy. The use of the weapon awakens the Thiima and thus begins the struggle for the survival of mankind.
The Darius series is known for its difficulty and stunning graphics, and this one doesn’t disappoint. Even for his age, this game holds up well at 24; yup, 24. Using polygons over pre-rendered backgrounds is nothing new today, but 1997 was great. At a time when the gambling halls were all but gone, this game helped keep the series relevant in Japan.
The two versions included in this bundle are G-Darius HD and G-Darius the direct arcade port. The HD variant has some updated 3D models of the ships, and the bosses seem to have been smoothed out (no jagged lines). However, the gameplay is identical. This is where the music shines; I found it fitted in perfectly with the atmosphere of the game, tense and nervous. Honestly, unless you’re a die-hard fan of the series, this doesn’t bring much to the table as a release and could have been included in the last Darius bundle that was ported to the Switch (Darius Cozmic Collection Arcade). Aside from 3D graphics and two new game mechanics, it’s a typical Darius shooter.
The mechanics mentioned are a beam counter that can turn the tide in tough boss fights and a trap function for various enemies to achieve better attack and defense skills. In addition, it’s Darius, plain and simple people. There is also a system of success. It doesn’t really bring you anything and seems like some kind of waste.
It’s still a lot of fun with this title; Two-player co-op with a friend can be a great way to kill some time. The controls are spot on and the challenge factor is there. But this game can easily be defeated by simply adding more credits; Yes, like the arcade, you can collect coins and move on by throwing the replayable value right out the window. I would have built in a deathmatch mode for replayability, with limited lives and no sequels, to see how far you can get by improving your piloting skills.
Ultimately, G-Darius HD is a challenging shooter from a time when arcade was still relevant. It still looks great and sounds cool, but it’s not great as a stand-alone device.