Dariusburst: Another Chronicle EX+ – Review
Follow Genre: Arcade game, 2D shoot-'em-up
Developer: TAITO, Pyramid
Publisher: United Games Entertainment
Platform: Switch, PS4
Tested on: Switch

Dariusburst: Another Chronicle EX+ – Review

Site Score
6.9
Good: Massive amount of content
Bad: Visual issues caused by aspect ratio
User Score
10.0
(2 votes)
Click to vote
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 10.0/10 (2 votes cast)

If you’ve ever played an iteration of Dariusburst before, you should be aware that the following review might instill a feeling of déjà vu. After all, Dariusburst: Another Chronicle EX+ is an enhanced port of an expanded version of an expanded port of an arcade game which was in itself a port of a PSP title. There’s a good chance that you’ve played some iteration of this game in the past decade, but clearly, there’s something good to be found here if TAITO feels like this is a title worth revisiting over and over again. Should you start counting down for blastoff or is Dariusburst: Another Chronicle EX+ an unnecessary rehash?

Story

As is typically the case with arcade shmups, there isn’t anything present in-game that remotely resembles a story. That’s not to say there isn’t any lore or backstory for the Dariusburst universe, as the eshop page for the game describes what is going on here. Long story short: Your home planet, Darius, is under attack by the evil forces of CHAOS. As a member of the Silver Hawks, the planetary defense force, your task is of course to take on these invaders and save Darius.

Graphics

Unfortunately, several things have gone wrong with Dariusburst: Another Chronicle EX+’s visuals. Don’t get us wrong, the game itself looks as amazing as it did when it originally appeared 12 years ago, from an aesthetic point of view at least. Unfortunately, the decision was made to retain the game’s original 32:9 aspect ratio (which was intended for a dual-screen arcade setup) and no effort was made to do anything about the black bars that appear on the top and bottom of the screen. This means that you’re giving up nearly half of your screen. This is especially jarring on the Switch’s handheld mode, given how small that screen is. Add to this that the text is barely legible and even appears distorted, and you’ve got a game that suffers from some visual issues. If you’re a Switch Lite owner, you’re out of luck as the docked mode is the way to go here.

Sound

While we had issues with the game’s visuals, the soundtrack is a different story altogether and it easily stands out as the game’s highlight. The music was created by ZUNTATA, which is TAITO’s in-house band. The OST is surprisingly varied, ranging from ethereal, haunting music to fast-paced beats that really get the adrenaline flowing as you get stuck in the frantic on-screen action. The music not only ties everything together, but it also enhances the overall experience. The sound effects are crisp as well, resulting in a game that is a joy to listen to, even though it lacks real voice acting.

Gameplay

If you hadn’t guessed it by now, Dariusburst: Another Chronicle EX+ is a side-scrolling space shmup in the same vein as the R-Type series. You take control of a spaceship and need to blast yourself through an increasingly difficult gauntlet of enemy ships set on taking you down. The series sets itself apart by going for a non-linear approach for its main campaign, by providing a choice between two stages every time you complete a stage, with the bottom stage on the game’s “map” typically being the more difficult one. The core experience only comprises 24 stages and you don’t even take them all on in a single playthrough. So, at first glance, it seems like this is a package that is light on content, but rest assured, there is much more here than meets the eye in terms of longevity. You’d expect the original game to be the main focus, but the meat of the game lies in the Chronicle mode, which actually features over 500 arcade stages -although these can feel a bit uninspired and repetitive over time.

As we mentioned, Dariusburst: Another Chronicle EX+ is light on story content. Instead, the focus is on beating your own score, as well as that of others. The game isn’t subtle about this either and puts a high emphasis on how important its online leaderboards are. This is great for those that have a competitive mindset, but it’s a little intimidating for anyone looking for a more casual experience. There is an (optional) unlimited lives mode for those looking to dip their toes into the water before they go head to head with the big boys. Naturally, there are also options to set your own score -or that of one of the game’s top players- on screen so that you have a goal to try to beat.

In terms of actual gameplay, Dariusburst: Another Chronicle EX+ feels very polished and genre aficionados will find controlling the various ships extremely satisfying. The controls are simple but tight and the new Burst Cannon offers not only massive destruction but tactical depth as well, thanks to its dual use. The cannon can either unleash a powerful blast or you can detach it from your main ship and use it as an auxiliary unit behind which you can shield yourself from incoming attacks. It’s one of the game’s highlights, but with a veritable arsenal of ships and weaponry to choose from, it’s far from the only way to take down the massive bosses that await you.

We should mention here that it’s not as simple as finding a ship that works with your playstyle either, as stages often limit you to a certain selection of spacecraft and weaponry, or include other stipulations in order for you to beat the stage, such as completing a run on a single credit. This approach keeps players on their toes at all times and prevents things from getting too stale, although due to the sheer amount of stages it means that there is bound to be some degree of repetition. We should also note that progress in the Chronicle mode seems to be tied to the online component as well, which seems like an odd design choice.

While Dariusburst: Another Chronicle EX+ comes packed with a ton of content, we wouldn’t go as far as to say this is the definitive edition. Apart from the aforementioned visual issues, the game also doesn’t comprise the entirety of what the history of Dariusburst has to offer. Mind you, said history is a bit of a clusterfuck, with several revised editions of the original PSP title from 2009 floating around, each offering their own small piece of additional content. Notably absent here is 2015’s Chronicle Saviours mode, (which is available on Steam, PS4, and PS Vita), which -ironically- was optimized for 16:9 displays. What you’re getting here is still nothing to sniff at though: Dariusburst Chronicle EX+ includes the original version of the game, alongside the enhanced EX mode, the previously mentioned arcade-exclusive Chronicle mode, and finally, the Event mode, which comprises 21 stages that were available in the arcade version for a limited time.

Conclusion

Dariusbust: Another Chronicle EX+ may offer an incomplete package but you’re still getting a lot of bang for your buck here. The game suffers from visual issues, especially in handheld mode, but the fantastic gameplay and the sheer amount of content more than make up for that. Add the fantastic soundtrack and you’ve got a game that has definitely earned its place in your collection if you’re a fan of the genre -unless you’re a Switch Lite owner.

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Rating: 10.0/10 (2 votes cast)
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Dariusburst: Another Chronicle EX+ - Review, 10.0 out of 10 based on 2 ratings
SebastiaanRaats


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