iPad Game Review: DARIUSBURST Second Prologue (Universal)
Reviewed by JadeDragon
DARIUS has been around since the mid-80s in the arcade. It chronicles the fight to save the planet Darius from the invading Belser Army. The popular series follows the typical space shoot 'em up gameplay where you face onslaught of enemy fighter ships, asteroids, space station guns and finally a boss fight. The big distinction in Darius series in this popular genre is the enemy ships are modeled after aquatic creatures, and synthesized style music companies the fast paced gameplay. DariusBurst made its first appearance on the PSP, and the iOS version, DariusBurst Second Prologue incorporates both the PSP version and its arcade follow-up DariusBurst Another Chronicle.
DariusBurst Second Prologue is largely the PSP DariusBurst port in the Original Mode but offers an additional "remixed" SP Mode. When you finished the game in both modes, you unlock the Mission Mode. In each of the three modes, you fly through 8 levels fighting very unique looking enemies and bosses. After the first few missions, you can actually pick different paths to continue the levels. Each path leads you to different backgrounds/settings with different enemies. The SP Mode has some enhanced gameplay compared to the Original mode with tighter enemy formations, better tempo and two new boss fights.
The tempo of the gameplay isn't as hectic as in games like Do-Don-Pachi series. The game has well-mannered tempo, and manageable and logical patterns. The game has a good number of enemy units and bosses are unique yet fit the overall aquatic theme well. The gameplay rewards replays as each time you try different game mode you unlock different enemy units, bosses and more. Once you've faced and defeated the new enemies, you can view them in the View Mode.
There are four ships you can control in DariusBurst Second Prologue after unlocking them, though they don't different much in their flying and fighting abilities. The game offers numerous power-ups including three weapon upgrades, health and life power-ups. The Burst beam makes the gameplay easier in Easy and Normal modes, but it really helps you in some boss fights in Hard mode. The game keeps score for your fighters in different difficulty levels and it has Game Center and OpenFeint support for global scoreboard.
The graphics in DariusBurst Second Prologue look very sharp. The iPhone version supports Retina Display and the iPad version is native and very sharp. One charming aspect of the graphics is the enemy unit design. The aquatic theme gives the enemy design a unique look and players the opportunity to fight "fish mecha". In addition to unit designs, the game keeps the weapon fire clean and defined. Unlike in most bullet-hell style shoot 'em up games, DariusBurst doesn't make the playing field too busy for you to see what you are shooting at and where they are coming from. Even in big bad boss fights, you can clearly see what you are doing.
Controls are smooth also in DariusBurst Second Prologue. The fighter ship flies from left to right, and you can turn auto fire on or off. The ship control is free form, this means you can press anywhere on the screen to drag your ship around. There are two or three (depending on which mode you are playing in) buttons you need to occasional press, and you can position them anywhere on the screen. The game has very smooth animation.
As with the graphics, the sound package also offers a unique experience. The symphony of high-pitched sound tracks mixed with metal clashing sound FX ring out together and compliment the visuals nicely. For the iPhone version, Taito's famous ZUNTATA sound team has added 4 new tracks and each has very unique style.
If DariusBurst Second Prologue is the first game you play in the series, the unique visuals and equally stunning audio will surprise you and attract your attention. The game offers a good amount of gameplay and replay value, and is well paced for both casual players and hardcore veterans alike. It works well on both iPad and iPhone,
Ratings (scale of 1 to 5):
Graphics: - 5 - Uniquely designed graphics, smooth animation and battlefield isn't cluttered. Sound: - 4.5 - Equally well-designed audio package with synthesized music style and sound FX. Controls: - 5 - Works very smoothly, flexible. Gameplay: - 4 - While there are not a lot of levels, the game keeps you replay it for more unlocked items and mode.
Playing Hints and Tips:
-The only thing that instantly kills you is the ship structures. So avoid ramming into it.
-Turn off the Beam when you don't need it to save energy.