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How Dariusburst: Chronicle Saviours resurrects an arcade legend

Taito’s seminal Darius series – like its arcade competitors R-Type and Gradius – is one of the franchises which helped shape and define the 2D horizontal shooter genre during the coin-op dreamland that was the mid-to-late ’80s. However, unlike its aforementioned contemporaries – which have sadly fallen dormant due to developer collapse and publisher apathy respectively – Darius has more or less managed to remain in active duty since those glory days.

After a prolonged period of absence, Dariusburst launched on the PlayStation Portable in Japan back in 2009, the first all-new entry in the series since G-Darius over a decade previously. Developed by Patapon studio Pyramid, this refreshing take on Taito’s classic capitalised on the Japanese resurgence of Sony’s handheld, and launched a spin-off Darius sub-series which has since expanded to arcades and smartphones – and, more recently, to PC, PlayStation 4 and PS Vita in the shape of Dariusburst: Chronicle Saviours, which launches worldwide this month. It’s been a remarkable endeavour for all concerned.

“The PSP version of Dariusburst was instigated by Hiroshi Aoki after years of pushing the plan through with Taito until it was at last accepted and developed,” explains Pyramid senior vice president Junichi Kashiwagi. While the original version of Dariusburst was a consumer release first and foremost, Pyramid was keen to maintain that vital link to the franchise’s former stomping ground: the arcade.

2010’s Dariusburst: Another Chronicle was a multi-screen coin-op behemoth, housing two 32-inch monitors to mimic the three-screen setup seen in the original 1986 Darius cabinet. Another Chronicle was a rare instance of a domestic game getting an arcade port rather than the other way around, and swiftly became the stuff of legend among coin-op lovers; a near-mythical beast rarely encountered in the wild. An augmented Android and iOS port would follow in 2012 under the subtitle Second Prologue, which included extras taken from the arcade version.