Darius Cozmic Collection Console (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Rudy Lavaux 03.07.2020

Review for Darius Cozmic Collection Console on Nintendo Switch

Darius Cozmic Collection Arcade encompassed three individual arcade games through seven separate variations in total. That was however not the entire Darius series - far from it. Even with Darius Cozmic Collection Console included, there are still some games not covered by either of those releases, but still, this one covers games otherwise lost to the ages. This one includes the Mega Drive and Master System ports of Darius II, aka Sagaia, through multiple regional releases, as well as Darius Plus for PC-Engine HuCard, which was a downgraded port of Super Darius (not included here) for PC-Engine Super CD-Rom2 but coded to leverage the extra horsepower of the ill-fated SuperGrafx when played on that system. Darius Alpha is also there, which itself was a very limited bonus for 800 buyers of Darius Plus. Then, Darius Twin and Darius Force, aka Super Nova, complete the line-up, those being two Super Nintendo exclusive releases never seen in the arcades. Time to go back to the past!

The Mega Drive port of Darius II, released in 1990, just one year after appearing in the arcades then, is a nice retooling of the original, considering it adapts a game designed around a very wide aspect ratio to be playable on a classic consumer television, with an aspect ratio of 4:3. The result works, and although in the arcade collection Darius II played well enough on a 16:9 screen, this one plays even better. The visual impact is understandably lessened considerably, and nothing could be done to make the scenery in each stage look any less repetitive but this was a good console port altogether. The North American version Sagaia is included as well, though differences are very minimal. The arcade version of Darius II in the other collection allowed for infinite continues, since extra credits could be poured in at no cost at a press of a button, but this one has limited continues, which can make it quite harder indeed with only a maximum of five lives to work with. Thankfully, cheat codes that worked on the original console also work here, and allow the player to unlock an extra Special Mode, which is like an expert difficulty setting, but also a Free Play mode which makes continues infinite as well as a zone select code allowing the player to pick up the game from any stage of their choosing. The button mapping is somewhat different in the absence of a C button on Switch controllers, but those codes have the merit of existing at least.

The Master System port of Sagaia, exclusive to the European market, is also included and seemingly running at 60Hz for good measure. This is a nice inclusion, even if it is ultimately the same game, because it is considerably reworked to function at all on the 8-bit system. Sprite flicker is an omnipresent problem, however, and since emulation allows to turn off sprite limitations of the original hardware, that should have been an option here. The Master System version is notable for cutting down some levels to fit within the cartridge constraints. There exists a PC-Engine Super CD-Rom2 version which appeared on the Wii Virtual Console in Japan in the past, and which had an excellent redbook audio CD soundtrack. That one was sadly omitted from this collection. This was otherwise potentially just as good as console port as the Genesis, just with different strengths and weaknesses.

Screenshot for Darius Cozmic Collection Console on Nintendo Switch

Darius Plus, a PC-Engine HuCard release, is also a port from one of the arcade games included in the other collection, this being the original Darius in this case. This one also retooled the original to make it work on a 4:3 aspect ratio screen, and it does work surprisingly well, to the point where this is probably the best way to play it on any of the two collection, even if it doesn't look or sound quite as nice. There exists, again, a PC-Engine Super CD-Rom2 version of the same game, which had a better soundtrack, but this was not to be in this collection. A real shame since Darius Plus only features 16 bosses instead of 26, therefore missing part of the original experience. Why Taito, why? At least Darius Plus has the option to run as it would on SuperGrafx, a souped-up PC-Engine, and this mode reduces drastically sprite-flicker. This mode is activated by default. Then, Darius Alpha, which is included in the collection on the other hand, is just a special edition of Darius Plus, with a very limited print-run that was never made available for sale, which is just like a stand-alone boss rush mode, but still only having 16 bosses.

Moving to Darius Twin, things are becoming a bit more interesting. This 1991 Super Famicom and SNES release was the first to not be a port of any arcade game, even though it still reuses many bosses from the first two arcade instalments, as well as some sound effects from both. It is also the first console title in the series to feature two-player simultaneous co-op gameplay. It looks great and sounds awesome, having perhaps the best soundtrack on console so far outside of the PC-Engine Super CR-Rom2 games. In a weird twist, both the Super Famicom and Super NES versions are included, not just for language purposes, but also because the North American one has slightly different audio. The original Japanese release only had mono sound, due to cartridge space constraints, but the North American version released later, had stereo sound. What the collection doesn't say, however, is that the cartridge size for the latter was exactly the same, so some things had to be changed or cut for stereo sound to be possible... this being that music sounds arguably worse in the North American version, and some sound samples appear to be worse or entirely missing altogether. For example, the music of Stage 3, Lankus, is missing an entire sound channel, whereas the music of Padi and Rear has worse sound samples in places.

Screenshot for Darius Cozmic Collection Console on Nintendo Switch

Darius Twin had however the great quality of being the first shmup on SNES to not feature any noticeable slowdown, even in two-player mode. Gradius III before it, and Super R-Type after it, both had noticeable slowdown whenever the screen was filled with bullets or enemies, but this, even if admittedly its action never quite gets as hectic, never buckles. A good release then, but level design is otherwise fairly unremarkable like in previous arcade outings, and the number of levels itself is comparatively low with fewer possible paths to the unique final area: the titular planet Darius. The other included SNES game Darius Force, aka Super Nova, is much better in that regard, with more stages to boot, but also the advantage of being the first console game to be made from the ground-up for it, without recycling any enemies or bosses. In fact, this one even includes bosses not based on marine life. Stage designs are also much more interesting with some using Mode-7 rotating effects, and even vertical or diagonal scrolling of all things. The soundtrack is a bit of an acquired taste. The compositions may be a bit better in general, but the sound samples used like some of the "oomph" that characterised Darius Twin, sounding more like cheap midi instruments.

Darius Force also has three playable ships. This was true of Darius Twin as well, but the green ship was solely for single player mode, and the classic red and blue were only seen in 2-player co-op. All three had the same armament. Here, all three have different weapons, which makes things more interesting for subsequent replays. Moreover, this one just flat out looks a lot better, and does more interesting things with the SNES hardware, while still maintaining a good performance. It's definitely the best console Darius game at the time of its release, and the best in this collection, even if it feels like it tries to be something less like Darius and more like its contemporaries. Darius Twin and Darius Force are in that sense the highlights of the package, especially the latter, given that they offer something not at all present in the arcade collection, and here lies the sad fact: that makes only two games truly exclusive to it, despite the much higher price of this second collection.

Screenshot for Darius Cozmic Collection Console on Nintendo Switch

Consider this: Darius II, aka Sagaia for Mega Drive and Master System are ports of the game of the same name that was on Darius Cozmic Collection Arcade. Those ports were as good as they could hope to be in their time for said consoles, and definitely worth playing, but are arguably inferior to the original for obvious reasons. Then Darius Plus is a port of the original Darius, also present in the arcade collection, and Darius Alpha is not so much its own thing, as much as it is a stand-alone boss rush mode to Darius Plus... which itself is a stripped down version of Super Darius... which itself was omitted from this collection despite being the best and most complete console port of the original Darius. Granted, Darius Plus is way more playable than its arcade counterpart on modern 16:9 displays, but still, it's largely the same game. So what can we conclude from this? That those who own the arcade collection already only really get two more exclusive titles from the console collection, but still have to pay the price of a full new Switch game released in 2020, for essentially two SNES games.

Even the most hardcore fan of the series has to admit that this is a bit hard to swallow. Should anyone only wish to buy into the console part of the collection that would still be too expensive. Again, as was said in the review for Darius Cozmic Collection Arcade, this will sound like hammering in the problem, but it's a frustrating one. These are cool games from yesteryears, which luckily are being preserved and packaged neatly for a new generation of gamers to enjoy - but to ask that kind of money for that amount of content is just unreasonable, and the fan inside who grew up playing Darius on console and who knows that most people probably won't give this collection a chance because of this can't help but feel betrayed. Sagaia for the Game Boy was a bonus for Amazon pre-orders of the collection in Japan, but it's not even included here, and no option exists for westerners to get their hands on it. Then, considering the higher price point, one could hope for, at least, the PS1 version of G-Darius, or a basic port from the PSP of Dariusburst. But no. Darius R for GBA wasn't particularly stellar, and wouldn't have helped much, but that wasn't included either, not even to sweeten the deal. If this reviewer comes across as bitter, that's because he is, as a Darius lover.

Screenshot for Darius Cozmic Collection Console on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

6/10
Rated 6 out of 10

Good

Darius Cozmic Collection Console is, like Darius Cozmic Collection Arcade; a great collection, no doubt. There is nothing intrinsically wrong with it as it is, since all games included are good and worth checking out - but the same issue of price is there. Different game versions aside, only four games are included this time, and if anyone already owns the arcade collection then only two of those are actually properly exclusive to it, since two are console ports of arcade games. This one is therefore, despite being just as good, even harder to recommend at its launching price. If the price ever goes down, or if it gets freely updated with the missing extra games, then that would be a different matter.

Review Copy provided by Taito Corporation

Developer

M2

Publisher

Taito

Genre

2D Platformer

Players

2

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  6/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now    Also on Also on Nintendo eShop

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