Darius Gaiden

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Darius Gaiden Arcade Flyer.jpg
Darius Gaiden

Title screen

Developer: Taito
Music: Hisayoshi Ogura, Katsuhisa Ishikawa
Program: Akira Kurabayashi, Naoto Omura, Hidetaka Harada
Art: Hisakazu Kato, Masami Kikuchi, Kentaro Matsumura, I.G Tatsunoko
Release date: Arcade
JP: September 1994
NA: November 1994
Previous game: RyuJin (Developer)
Darius Force (Release)
Darius (Chronology)
Next game: RayForce (Developer)
G-Darius (Release)
Darius II (Chronology)

Darius Gaiden is a horizontal-scrolling shoot-em-up released by [Taito] in 1994, and is the third arcade title in the [Darius] series. It is the first game in the series to use a single-screen display, and has a heavy focus on the use of psychadelic effects, bizzare atmosphere and an unusual soundtrack from TAITO's music team Zuntata to produce a dreamlike experience. The Stage 1 Track VISSIONERZ, composed by Hisayoshi Ogura, formed the basis for all of the music and the presentation of the game, with the opening lyrics telling the player to "Close your eyes..."

As is typical for the Darius series, Gaiden features Fish-based theming and bosses, Branching Pathways - with a total of 28 stages - and multiple endings.

Darius Gaiden has been ported to the Saturn, Playstation, and to the PS4 and Switch as part of the Darius Cozmic Collection.

Darius Gaiden chronologically takes place between the first two Darius games, which is where the name draws from - Gaiden is often used in Japanese titles, loosely translated as "Another story".

Darius Gaiden was followed up by G-Darius in 1997.

For replay videos, visit the Video Index.

Gameplay Overview

Darius Gaiden is a 2-button Horizontal shmup, which is fairly classical in style - with typically lower numbers of bullets on screen and a larger hitbox than Bullet Hell styled games. There is only one player ship, the Silver Hawk. The gameplay is largely focused around power-ups, with power ups for your main shot, the bombs shot from your ship, and a shield which can take 3 hits, upgrading to 4 and then 5 as more are picked up. Upon death, your shot power decreases one full stage whilst shield and bomb stage remains constant - except after new credits.

There are also Score Item Pickups, Screen-clearing item pickups, and Pickups containing extra lives. Enemies that drop all types of pickups, and those revealed when shot in secret parts of the stage, are Fixed, though their quantities do vary depending on the route you take throughout the game.

The Black-Hole Bomb is a new addition to the series, and serves a very similar purpose to the traditional bombs found in most shmups - destroying weak enemies immedietly, providing invulnerability for a few seconds (except from stage hazards such as walls), and clearing the screen of enemy projectiles. However, the black hole bomb also sucks up and destroys floating pickup items and prevents pickup enemies dropping them. Bombs are lost upon death.


  • A: Fires the main shot and standard diagonal bombs. When held, fires at about a 5hz, but can be tapped quickly for more rapid shots
  • B: Fires the Black-Hole Bomb

Note: most arcade cabinets and ports of the game include an additional 30hz turbo fire button for the main shot in addition to the above two buttons.


How a player starts the game.
A player maxed out on all weapons and shield.

Darius Gaiden has two main weapons, SHOT and BOMB. These can be upgraded individually by picking up the appropriate powerups. Understanding the differences between the different levels of shots is key to understanding the game and routing accordingly. Shots shoot forward from your ship, and Bombs fire forward and downward from your ship.

It takes 3 power-ups to move your SHOT or BOMB level up however SHOT levels have sub-levels for each powerup collected. The SHOT levels are:

  • Missile is your beginning shot. It has two sub-levels, and Missile sub level 3 is the highest DPS weapon in the entire game. The only downside is that it does not pass through enemies or obstacles.
  • Laser is a very weak shot, but it can pierce through enemies, including enemy armor that may attempt to block Missile shots (like Golden Ogre's scales in Zone A)
  • Wave is also very weak, but these shots pass through enemies and obstacles in the environment. Sub-level 2 also reintroduces two missile shots- above and below the wave shot. This makes sub level 2 the most powerful of the three sub levels. These missile shots still do not pass through enemies or obstacles.
  • Wave Lv. 2 Is wider than LV. 1, with a higher DPS and better ROF. Sub-level 2 also includes two missile shots and thus, like in Lv. 1, sub-level 2 is more powerful than sub-level 3.
  • Wave Lv. 3 Is more powerful than Lv. 2, and introduces two smaller ships above and below yours that fire homing waves at enemies. Just like the previous two levels, sub-level 2 includes missile shots, making this the second-highest DPS weapon in the entire game, after Missile sub-level 3.

In Darius Gaiden Extra, there are two more sub levels beyond Wave Lv. 3 sub-level 2.

Each bomb level increases damage in addition to the following attributes. The BOMB levels are:

  • Napalm Bomb Lv. 1
  • Napalm Bomb Lv. 2
  • Napalm Bomb Lv. 3
  • Twin Napalm Lv. 1 fires another bomb upwards from the front of the ship.
  • Twin Napalm Lv. 2
  • Twin Napalm Lv. 3
  • Multi-Napalm Lv. 1 fires two more bombs upwards and downwards from the back of the ship.
  • Multi-Napalm LV. 2
  • Multi-Napalm Lv. 3
  • Multi-Homing Napalm Lv. 1 Adds a homing element to all bombs fired.
  • Multi-Homing Napalm Lv. 2
  • Multi-Homing Napalm Lv. 3


Players will encounter several item pickups throughout the course of the game. Once they appear, the move towards the left side of the screen while rotating in a circle. They are shaped like Silver Hawk emblems and their colour indicates their function, except for the 1up icon which is a miniature Silver Hawk inside a bubble.

  • Red

Red power ups increase shot level, explained in detail in the weapons section above.

These are found by destroying red tinted enemies and asteroids and some boss parts.

  • Blue

Blue power ups increase ARM (shield) level and restore shield strength.

At shield level 1, a shield pickup gives you a shield that can take 3 hits before being destroyed. However, it can only 'repair' a shield by one hit point. So if you have a shield with 1/3 hits left, a shield powerup will only restore it to 2/3 hits. If you destroy the shield completely, a new shield item will give you 3 new hit points.

Once you reach shield level 2, your shield changes colour to silver and increases to 4 hit capacity, and at level 3 it changes to gold and has 5 hit capacity.

Damaged level 2 ashields are repaired at 2 units per pickup instead of 1. Damaged level 3 shields are repaired at 3 units per pickup instead of 2.

These are found by destroying blue tinted enemies and asteroids and some boss parts.

  • Green

Green powerups increase your bomb level by one unit. Once increased enough, your missile powers up and gains new attributes. Check above section for details.

These are found by destroying green tinted enemies and asteroids.

  • Silver

Silver power ups give a random score bonus between 50-52100 pts. It should be noted that some guides falsely claim you can consistently gain specific score bonuses by collecting the powerup at specific angles. This is not true.

These are found by shooting specific parts of the environment, revealing their invisible location.

  • Gold

Gold powerups deal damage to all enemies on screen. Usually enough to kill all enemies, but several are strong enough to withstand the damage in later stages.

These are found by shooting specific parts of the environment, revealing their invisible location.

  • Purple

Purple power ups increase bomb stock by 1, to a maximum of 5.

These are found by destroying purple tinted enemies and asteroids.

  • 1up

Adds a life to the player's stock.

These are found by shooting specific parts of the environment, revealing their invisible location.


This section should cover a general breakdown of the scoring system of the game. Feel free to put the meat and potatoes here. A great example of a scoring section is the DoDonPachi page.


Auto Fire/Turbo Fire

The game has a native autofire rate that its stages and bosses are designed around, but many players choose to use 30Hz turbofire which can speed-kill bosses and cause captured captains to behave improperly. It is included on most Gaiden cabinets, most notably at Taito's own game centers as well as in Darius Gaiden Extra Version - a special hack of the game featuring a marathon mode combining all zones into a single playthrough. Despite its ubiquity, it is perfectly possible to play the game without turbofire. This being said, auto-fire on its own needs to be managed. Many shot types have differing amounts of bullets allowed to persist on-screen, meaning without point blanking you will get "clumps" of shots that do a poor job covering enemies during the stages. Rapid-fire also raises rank at a higher rate than regular shots- a small consideration as well (see: rank section below). Due to this, it is wise to have a button for regular and turbo fire and the switch between them as the situation permits (this is the standard for arcade cabinets).

King Fossil's bullet patterns change size, shape and speed when your rank increases
Rank System

Darius Gaiden uses a rank system for difficulty. Rank ranges from 8-256, and the higher the rank, the more difficult the game becomes.

Rank can affect the following:

  • bullet speed
  • The amount of bullets an enemy fires
  • The size of the bullets fired

Rank is affected by the following actions

  • Passage of time
  • Firing shots
  • collecting power ups
  • destroying entire enemy formations
  • breaking boss parts

Breaking boss parts tends to cause the sharpest rank increase, and since rank increases with each shot fired, 30hz turbofire can increase rank significantly faster than standard autofire.

Upon death, rank is temporarily halved before quickly climbing up to where it was before death.


At the end of a game, you are given bonuses for each of the following:

  • Remaining lives - 1,000,000 points per life left
  • Remaining bombs - 300,000 points per bomb left
  • Successful Captain Capture - 200,000 points per capture

This means that in most runs your bonus score will vastly outweigh your regular score, so captain capturing, no-missing, and no-bombing are requirements to attempt high score play (route dependent).

Boss parts can be broken for 30,000 bonus points, except for Risk Storage. If you destroy Risk Storage's tail you are granted an extra 900,000 points.

Score items give you a random score bonus up to 51,200 points. It is completely random and there is no way to guarantee a certain amount of points.

Boss Strategies

One of the main elements that separates score runs from survival runs is boss milking. Almost every boss has destructible body parts or spawns destructible enemies that can be milked for score. Each Boss also has a timer that, when it runs out, summons the "Yazuka Takami". However, these cubes aren't worth any points at all and therefore can't be milked for additional score.

Stage V is the easiest final stage, and most survival-routes end there, as its final boss, RISK STORAGE being easily the least tanky and difficult of the final bosses. Stage Z', meanwhile, is the hardest final stage, with GREAT THING effectively serving as the [True Last Boss] of the game. Stage V' is also very difficult with STORM CAUSER serving as the second hardest boss.

(Currently evaluating whether or not this specific section should even include information outside of the separated Strategy pages. Worth thinking about as a community.)

General Tips
  • Understand the weapons system and plan your weapon pickups around the bosses you have to kill. This is useful for both survival and score. For example, many players avoid the final shot powerup since it has a lower DPS than the penultimate shot level.
  • locate secret score items, bomb stock, screen clear items, and lives in your route. Every route has two 1UPs that must be shot, revealed, and collected. There are also hidden score items and screen clear items that are useful.
  • This game has obstacles- use them to block enemy shots and use the wave weapon to shoot through them.
  • Several Captains can use special attacks through fighting game inputs. If you are playing Cozmic Collection they are displayed on the gadget when you capture them.
  • ACEHLQV and ABDGLQV are popular routes, with the former being slightly more difficult than the latter, and having higher score potential.


Like many other games in the Darius series, Darius Gaiden allows you to pick which Zone to play through in each stage. There are 28 Zones total across 7 stages.

Below is a list of stages and their respective Zones.

Stage 1 (Planet Vadis)

  • Zone A: An abandoned city on Vadis, now occupied by the Belsar. Boss is Golden Ogre.

Stage 1 takes place on the surface of Vadis.

Stage 2 (Satellite Contrary)

  • Zone B: A vast expansive forest on Contrary. Boss is Ancient Dozer.
  • Zone C: An ocean reef on Contrary. Boss is King Fossil.

Stage 2 takes place on Contrary, a satellite orbiting Vadis.

Stage 3 (Satellite Contrary)

  • Zone D: An asteroid field near an enemy space station. Boss is Folding Fan.
  • Zone E: A large enemy-occupied space station. Boss is Electric Fan.
  • Zone F: A battlefield in open space. Boss is Folding Fan.

Stage 3 takes place near Contrary, a satellite orbiting Vadis.

Stage 4 (Warp Zone)

  • Zone G: An unknown region of hyperspace infected by a living plague. Boss is Prickly Angler.
  • Zone H: Takes place in open hyperspace. Boss is Neon Light Illusion.
  • Zone I: A cave located in hyperspace. Boss is Prickly Angler.
  • Zone J: An enemy-controlled region of hyperspace. Boss is Neon Light Illusion.

Stage 4 takes place in a hyperspace warp zone between Vadis and Darius' systems. After a brief moment in open space, a warping effect will be triggered, and the real level begins.

Stage 5 (Satellite Weather)

  • Zone K: Takes place near a series of destroyed space stations orbiting Weather. Boss is Fatty Glutton.
  • Zone L: Takes place near the surface of what is presumably Weather. Boss is Double Dealer.
  • Zone M: A brief moment amongst the asteroids. Boss is Titanic Lance. Due to the absolutely massive size of Titanic Lance, its boss fight is structured like a battleship raid and makes up most of the level. It is likely a successor to Peace Destroyer from Darius Force.
  • Zone N: Takes place within the asteroid ring orbiting Darius. Boss is Double Dealer.
  • Zone O: Similar to Zone K. Boss is Fatty Glutton.

Stage 5 takes place near Weather, a satellite orbiting Darius.

Stage 6 (Planet Darius)

  • Zone P: A series of ruins on the sea floor. Boss is Crusty Hammer.
  • Zone Q: An arctic cave beneath Darius' surface. Boss is Deadly Crescent.
  • Zone R: A series of large mountains and cliffs. Boss is Crusty Hammer.
  • Zone S: A vast desert with various ruins. Boss is Deadly Crescent.
  • Zone T: A massive ruined city on Darius. Boss is Crusty Hammer.
  • Zone U: Similar to Zone P. Boss is Deadly Crescent.

Stage 6 takes place on the surface of Darius. Early into the level, the Silver Hawk will begin to burn up on re-entry. This has no effect on gameplay.

Stage 7 (Planet Darius)

  • Zone Z': An abandoned city on Darius, now under Belsar control. Final boss is Great Thing.
  • Zone V: A Belsar stronghold, deep beneath the sea. Final boss is Risk Storage.
  • Zone W: A massive cavern, similar to Zone A of the original Darius from 1986. Final boss is Vermillion Coronatus.
  • Zone X: The enemy headquarters, floating in the clouds of Darius' atmosphere. Final boss is Hysteric Empress.
  • Zone Y: A thick jungle, home to the native creatures of Darius but occupied by the Belsar. Final boss is Odious Trident.
  • Zone Z: A volcano on Darius' surface. Final boss is Curious Chandelier.
  • Zone V': The eye of a storm out in the seas of Darius. Final boss is Storm Causer.

Stage 7 takes place on the surface of Darius.


Taking place after the original Darius, Gaiden focuses on the refugees of the Planet Darius after the climactic battle of the original game, who having left for the planet Vadis, now attempt to return to their home planet. Upon doing so, they are ambushed by a Belsar fleet, which destroys most of the Silver Hawks, leaving only two remaining Silver Hawks, piloted by Keith Arden (1P Side) and Anna Steiner (2P Side), where the game begins...

Gaiden features 7 Endings, most of which focus on the dreamlike nature of the game itself. The endings to Zone Z' and V' can probably be seen as the game's good endings, whilst the rest are more ambiguous.

  • Zone Z': Upon defeating GREAT THING, Keith and Anna witness the battlefield and desolation they've thought through give way to a forest scene, and they are unsure if what they have just fought through is real or a dream.
  • Zone V: Going deep underwater to defeat RISK STORAGE, the Silver Hawks are destroyed by water pressure, fall to the bottom of the sea, and are covered by the Marine snow.
  • Zone W: Reveals that Darius Gaiden is just a game Keith and Anna were playing in the arcade, with Keith cheering in triumph. Essentially a joke ending.
  • Zone X: Destroying the Belsar citidel, Keith and Anna ruminate that the battle isnt over yet, as shadows lurk in the clouds.
  • Zone Y: Upon defeating ODIOUS TRIDENT, Keith and Anna land in a forest similar to that shown in the ending to Zone Z', and are welcomed by the native species, being lauded for destroying the enemies that were destroying the forests of Darius.
  • Zone Z: Defeating CURIOUS CHANDELIER and the rest of the Belsar fleet, Anna and Keith leave Darius, only to find that the fighting had caused so much damage that Darius explodes. Keith and Anna are at a loss what to do.
  • Zone V': Defeating STORM CAUSER clears the huge storm around the stage and reveals the lost fleet of refugee ships from the opening of the game, which settle on Darius once again. Peace is restored. Definetly the "best" ending, and seeing as the Zone's inclusion as the final stage in the EXTRA version, is the closest to a "true ending."

Version Differences

  • Darius Gaiden Extra Version, an official hack, rearranges the stage order of the original game and provides a 30Hz autofire by default for pressing A. As a special extra, starting the game as 2P side starts a version of the game where all 28 stages are played in alphabetical order, ending with stage V' and the boss STORM CAUSER, and also utilising its ending.


Darius Gaiden was released on the SEGA Saturn, PS1, PS2, PC (Windows 95), Xbox, Nintendo Switch and PS4.

The original Saturn release runs slower than the arcade game and also has some slowdown. Before Cozmic Collection released, this was the best version of the game available on home consoles and is still one of the better ports of the game- especially if playing on a CRT.

The PS1 port suffers from more slowdown, jerky scrolling, and other graphical issues and features a new FMV intro sequence instead of the arcade original intro.

The Windows 95 version is essentially the Saturn version but it has different sound effects and slight loading hitches before bosses.

The PS2 and Xbox versions are emulated and part of Taito Legends 2- an arcade compilation disc. The PS2 version does not run properly and does not have progressive video. The xbox version has progressive video and does not have the performance issues of the PS2 version.

In 2019, Darius Cozmic Collection was released in Japan for Nintendo Switch and in 2020 for PS4. It includes a new port of Darius Gaiden with credits to the M2 Shottriggers team. This port is 100% arcade faithful and features save states, high score leaderboards, gadgets for rank, score, boss health, ARM level, and more. A training mode was added in a patch that allows stage, rank, weapon and shield selection. This training mode is included as default in the DL and english versions of the game. It comes highly recommended, even if you already own the Saturn version or a PCB.


  • According to a Doujin roundtable interview published in Shooting Gameside #1[1], Darius Gaiden is one of ZUN's favorite shmups. Besides, he has been influenced by this game and its focus on memorable boss battles when creating Touhou Project, according to the Bohemian Archive in Japanese Red interview.[2]
  • This is one of the last products ever released baring the I.G Tatsunoko name before they renamed themselves Production I.G


See Darius Gaiden/Gallery for our collection of images and scans for the game.


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