How long should a work of media continue to be profitable? That’s quite the question, isn’t it? I’m of the mind that, well, so long as a game keeps selling, publishers ought to keep selling it. Publishers seem to agree with me, too, as we’re currently in a world of re-releases, remasters and remixes, with Dariusburst Another Chronicle EX+ serving as the latest shmup example of the trend.
This is the newest and shiniest rendition of Dariusburst, a game that we last saw back in 2015 or so as Dariusburst Chronicle Saviors. The original Dariusburst was released in 2009, so this game’s got quite the pedigree, and by now we’re playing a remixed remix of a remix. Try to wrap your brain around that one…or don’t, since there’s mechanical fish to shoot.
Yes, you’re playing Darius, so that means two things: shooting mechanical space fish and a screen that’s really, really wide. If you’ve never had the pleasure of seeing one of the Darius games in the arcade, it’s quite the sight to behold – a giant widescreen monitor contained in a cabinet that you sit inside of, perhaps with a friend, taking in the sights in a view so majestic that you’ve got to look side to side to see it all.
It’s quite the experience, and Another Chronicle EX+ does its best to emulate this digital magic on a normal screen. It definitely helps to have a larger-than-normal screen, since that emulation is pretty accurate to the actual Darius experience if you were to squash it down to fit.
What about the shooting, though? Well, the shooting’s about as solid as you might expect. Darius differs from most shmups by being a tiny bit more forgiving at first. Newcomers are going to appreciate the steady stream of powerups, particularly the handy shield that allows you to take many, many more hits than the average shmup protagonist. By continually collecting goodies, you’ll become quite the survivable killing machine.
Don’t expect this to last, of course, as later on Dariusburst will crush you under waves of bullets and suicidal enemy ships. New to this version of the game is the F-Burst ability, which allows you to set up a proxy turret that can take out enemies while you’re elsewhere dodging or clearing out the other chunk of the screen.
As for the mechanical fish in question, they’re astounding! Bosses in this series are, with few exceptions, themed after aquatic life, and it’s always exciting to see which ocean-dwelling foe’s going to challenge you next. Likewise, they’re also pretty badass and you’re bound to lose a few lives the first several times you encounter them. You won’t see every boss on any given playthrough, naturally, since this is Darius and there’s a branching map that you’ll take a different path through each time you proceed through the game.
There’s plenty of replayability here, in other words. If you get tired of that, you can try the included missions or remixed campaign.
This probably sounds great, and it is! The problem is that Dariusburst Chronicle Saviours from 2015 was also great and included most of the additional features included in this game. Sure, there’s no F-Burst, you’re missing out on the latest ship and there’s few missions here and there you can’t play in the previous release, but by and large Another Chronicle EX+ feels like it could have been DLC for Chronicle Saviours. The older game will still run you for $50 on digital platforms last I checked, but it’s bound to go on sale faster than the $40 EX+.
At least EX+ continues the Dariusburst trend of being absolutely gorgeous – at least on PS4, which is the version we checked out. The combination of surreal fish-fighting, ethereal music and pulse-pounding action make for a shmup experience that’s not to be missed. In fact, you can grab some friends and not miss it together, since there’s four-player simultaneous coop. As you might imagine, this is a little chaotic, but 4-player Darius is still a good time if you can get the people together for it.
While it doesn’t add too much to its predecessor Dariusburst Chronicle Saviours or revitalize the genre like R-Type Final 2, Dariusburst Another Chronicle EX+ is still a perfectly worthy collection for folks who haven’t played the original. While there’s significantly fewer offbeat goodies here, the underlying gameplay is still solid, and between the branching paths, multiple modes and multiplayer options there’s plenty of space sushi to be made.