G-Darius is a 2-player horizontal-scrolling shoot-em-up developed and released by Taito in 1997. Similar to it's predecessor, the game uses a single-screen display. Zuntata would also return to compose the music for G-Darius. As typical for the Darius series, G-Darius features Fish-based enemies and bosses, branching pathways - with 15 stages - and multiple endings. G-Darius has been ported to Playstation and later to modern consoles as G-Darius HD, featuring a higher resolution and a higher-poly Silver Hawk model during game-play. Chronologically, the game takes place before the first Darius game, and is the first game in the timeline. G-Darius would eventually be followed up by the Dariusburst series of games on PSP and Arcades.
G-Darius plays somewhat similar to Darius Gaiden except for several differences. The game is also focused on power-ups: A main shot that fires in front, bombs that fire above and below the ship, and armor that can take multiple hits. New to the series that replaces Black-Hole Bombs are Capture Balls, which allow the Silver Hawk to capture almost any enemy on screen and use them against enemy forces. Enemies are more aggressive, and will fill the screen with bullets if not dealt with. Death will result in all power-ups being reduced to the base level of the current weapon. There are also other pickups, such as Score pickups, Screen-clearing pickups, and extra lives. Like Gaiden, items found in the stage are fixed, and their quantities vary depending on the route taken.
- A(Press): Fires the main shot and bombs. Each press of the A button will fire a volley of 3 shots.
- A (Hold): Charges a captured enemy into an Alpha Beam. Releasing the button when fully charged will fire the Alpha Beam.
- B: Fires a single Capture Ball if the player has any. Pressing the button again with a captured enemy will cause it to explode into a large bomb.
- C: Rapidly fires the main shot & bomb. (Ver. 2 Only)
Note: most arcade cabinets and ports of the game include an additional 30hz turbo fire button for the main shot.
Just like previous entries in the Darius series, the Silver Hawk has a basic SHOT and BOMB attacks. These are upgraded by picking up enough red and green pickups respectively. It takes 7 red pickups to advance to the next weapon and 4 green pickups to upgrade the bombs. Red and Green pickups can be found by destroying colored enemies.
- Missile is the starting shot type. It has the most damage but cannot pierce enemies or the terrain. Collecting additional red pickups will add an extra Missile to the shot, up to three.
- Laser is a weaker shot type obtained after upgrading the Missile, and has the ability to pierce through enemies. Additional red pickups will cause the Laser to elongate.
- Wave is the final shot type and the weakest out of the three, but is able to pierce through enemies and terrain. Red pickups will widen the shot.
(The Laser and Wave shot type cannot pierce through bosses.)
Bombs fire diagonally from the ship, and are used to destroy ground-based enemies. Each green pickup will make the projectile larger until upgrading to the next Bomb type.
- Bomb is the starting Bomb type. It fires a single missile downwards from the front of the ship.
- Twin fires another bomb in front of the ship upwards
- Multi Bombs fire two additional bombs behind the ship.
Alongside Shots and Bombs is also Armor, which protects the Silver Hawk from multiple hits before being destroyed. Armor can be obtained by collecting blue pickups, obtained from blue-colored enemies. It takes 6 Arm pickups to upgrade. When an Armor pickup is collected when the player has no Armor, the player will always receive 3 hits, if they do, it will "repair" a certain number of units depending on the tier. On it's last hit, the Armor will shrink.
- Arm is the starting Armor tier. It can hold up to a maximum of 3 hits and repairs up to one lost unit.
- Super Arm is the second tier, which can hold up to 4 hits, and repair 2 units.
- Hyper Arm is the most powerful tier, where it holds up to 5 hits, and repairs 3 hits. Hyper Arm will also protect the ship from terrain.
Armor pickups are rather rare to come by during a play-through, so it's advised to use captured enemies to shield incoming damage instead.
Capture Balls allow the ship to capture nearly any enemy in the game and use it on their side. Captured enemies will fire back toward other enemies with their firing pattern and behavior being dependent on what enemy was captured, with some acting as a shield instead of firing back. Captured enemies are not permanent, and will be destroyed if they take too much damage. Before this happens, the enemy can be turned into a powerful bomb that nearly covers the entire screen, or into an Alpha Beam which fires a huge, wide laser for a short period of time. The player starts with 3 capture balls by default and can be increased buy collecting purple power-ups found by destroyed purple colored enemies. Enemies that are are gold or have gold plating are immune to the Alpha Beam.
Around halfway through the stage, a Captain (Mid-Boss) may be encountered - a larger enemy with much more health and has gold-plating on their face. In order to capture a Captain, the armor must first be destroyed by firing enough shots onto it or by using a bomb from a captured enemy. Once the gold-plating is destroyed, firing a capture ball will capture the Captain. Aside from having more health than a common enemy, Captains have wilder attack patterns and can do a special move when a command input is performed with the joystick followed by a press of the shot button.
While the Alpha Beam is a very powerful tool for dealing with formations of enemies and large score multipliers, their best use is to counter Beta Beams fired from bosses. After a Boss has attacked the player enough, they will proceed to fire a Beta Beam towards the player. If the player has a captured enemy at the time, they can fire their Alpha Beam to counter the Beta Beam and engage a Beam Duel. This turns into a tug-of-war battle where the player must rapidly press the Shot button to overpower the Beta Beam and increase the size of the Alpha Beam, resulting in massive damage to the boss or their demise. Later Bosses will have more then one Beta Beam, and if all countered, can create even bigger counters and even higher score multipliers.
There are two different types of rank in G-Darius: Gameplay Rank and Technical Rank.
Like most shoot-em-up games, G-Darius has a ranking system that determines the difficulty of the game. Except for a few instances, Gameplay Rank never decreases and goes up at a rather linear pace as the game progresses until capping at 255.
The Rank at the start of the game is determined by the set difficulty.
Rank is increased by the following:
- Collecting a Shot or Bomb pickup: +2
- If the Shot pickup upgrades weapon to Laser: +4 instead.
- If the current Shot type is Laser or Wave, every 2nd red pickup will add +3 instead.
- Entering a Zone: +5
- Starting a Boss fight: +6
- 2nd Player joining the game: +32
- If the player has a captured enemy, the Rank will increase by 16 until the captured enemy is spent.
- Collecting an Arm pickup: +1
- If the player has no Arm power upon collecting an Arm pickup: +2 more.
- If Arm level is reset to base power (caused by a death): -2
The number of hits remaining on the player's Arm also affects Rank:
|Arm Power Remaining||Rank Modifier|
During Co-Op games, the player who has survived longer will determine the Rank.
Gameplay Rank affects the following:
- Enemy Health
- Enemy firing speed and projectile speed
- Boss Health
- Boss pattern aggression
Technical Rank is a grading given to the player at the end of the game, ranging from 0-105. Technical Rank is determined by the following:
- Enemies Shot Down: Total enemies shot down, either singular or in groups.
- VS Boss Shot Hit: How many shots hit during a Boss fight.
- Cap. Survive: The number of captured enemies that were used as Bombs or Alpha Beams.
- Pow-Up Got: How many power-ups were picked up.
- Reached: How far the player got in the game. Adds 3 points per Zone cleared.
- VS Boss Final Blow: The best final blow inflicted to a boss. Letting a boss self-destruct is worth the least at 2 while a Fourfold Counter is worth the most at 10.
- Miss: Losing lives negatively affects Technical Rank.
- Continue: 1 point is lost per continue used.
Scoring is multiplied by the following actions:
- Destroying the last enemy in a formation with a captured enemy: 2X
- Destroying the last enemy in a formation with a Capture Ball Bomb: 3X
- Destroying the last enemy in a formation formation with an Alpha Beam: 4X
- Alpha Beam Single Counter: 6X
- Alpha Beam Double Counter: 8X
- Alpha Beam Triple Counter: 10X
- Alpha Beam Fourfold Counter: 12X
Upon finishing the game, extra bonuses are given:
- Remaining Lives: 1,000,000 per extra life
- Captured Captains: 300,000 per captured Captain
- Finishing off a Boss with an Alpha Beam (No Counter): 200,000
- Finishing off a Boss with a Single Counter Alpha Beam: 400,000
- Finishing off a Boss with a Double Counter Alpha Beam: 600,000
- Finishing off a Boss with a Triple Counter Alpha Beam: 800,000
- Finishing off a Boss with a Fourfold Counter Alpha Beam: 1,000,000
G-Darius Ver. 2 is a updated version of G-Darius released in 1999, which includes several changes in order to make the game more difficult.
- Significantly increased difficulty. Enemies and Bosses are much more aggressive from the start.
- Tweaked Arm system. Armor no longer protects the Silver Hawk from an enemy collision unless they have upgraded Armor.
- Added a beginner mode similar to that of Gradius III. Lasts up to 3 Zones and death reduces all power-ups by 1 unit instead of being reset to base power.
- Increased amount of Captains per Zone. All Captains fire the spiraling laser attack from First Captain. Captured Captains have significantly less health.
- The player is no longer invulnerable when using a Capture Ball's bomb.
- Boss battles now have a timer, which lasts 3 minutes normally and 7 minutes for final bosses. Defeating the boss will award 10,000 points per second remaining.
- There are high score tables for every Zone.
- Continuing provides a pickup for Missile, Bomb, Arm, and Capture Ball instead of the former three in a combined power-up.
G-Darius was ported to the original Playstation in 1998, which features a beginner mode, options to fight only the bosses, and FMV cutscenes. It was also ported to Windows in 2001.
Taito Legends 2 on the Playstation 2 includes G-Darius. It is a nearly perfect arcade port, but includes loading times, and very little slowdown.
The game would be re-released again in 2021 as G-Darius HD for Nintendo Switch and Playstation 4/5, as a stand-alone release and as part of the Darius Cozmic Revelation package. The remaster was developed by M2 and includes an option to play G-Darius at a higher resolution with a higher-poly Silver Hawk model, as well as a Capture Gallery, achievements, online leaderboards, and replays. An update in 2022 would add G-Darius Version 2, G-Darius "for consumer" (PS1 port), and added gadgets including capture and boss health bars. G-Darius HD was also released on Steam, which has an exclusive "Expedition Mode" and sub-woofer support.