Review: Darius Twin (SNES)

Double the monotony

The Darius series has long taken a backseat to some of the more prominent shoot 'em up series, despite featuring some absolutely amazing releases on the various 32-bit game consoles. Darius Twin still features much of the aquatic-themed shooter action of its brethren, but for some reason the game comes off feeling very stripped-down and lacks much of the intensity other releases in the series have featured. Perhaps this was done in an effort to keep the game running smoothly on the Super Nintendo's rather slow processor or in order to allow the two-player cooperative play. Either way it ultimately ends up bringing the entire experience down with it.

The layout of Darius Twin doesn't stray too far from the norm of shooters of the time period. You'll navigate your way through a steady flow of enemies and their firepower until you reach the boss at the end of each level. There are a few mini-bosses to tangle with, but they don't stretch too far from the regular enemies other than being larger in size and requiring a few more bullets to take down. As in other Darius releases, you'll find that you can take different paths at the end of some levels that branch off in various directions, allowing you to choose your own unique path to the final level of the game.

Your ship features two different types of cannon fire. Your straight shot fires directly in front of your ship and will provide the majority of your assault power. You also have a secondary weapon that will initially drop bombs but can be powered up much like your primary weapon to become a very effective weapon that will fire in all four diagonal directions. You'll find this quite handy for times when enemies are flying all around you.

The biggest problem in Darius Twin lies in the way your ship can be powered up to make it actually too effective. This means that you'll be firing in some many directions at once that you can virtually destroy any incoming enemies even if you're standing still. To add insult to injury, you won't lose your firepower when your ship is destroyed which can make blowing through the game far too easy. You'll find that even with your limited supply of ships, it's still quite simple to beat the game. There are even many times when you can find a safe spot on the screen and ride out the entire level completely out of harm's way. It's this lack of challenge that proves to be one of the biggest detriments.

One interesting feature of Darius Twin comes in its two-player cooperative mode of play. This allows two players to tackle the game together. While this is certainly a welcome mode for players who enjoy this type of atmosphere, it does tend to make an already easier game even less challenging. Of course it does add a bit of competitive fire to the experience for those who treat it as such.

There were some impressive visual presentations in various shooters during the 16-bit era, but sadly most of the backdrops in Darius Twin are fairly devoid of detail or any type of visual flash. Occasionally you'll see some nice touches here and there, but most of the time you'll be staring at black space with only a host of tiny stars to spice things up around you. Although the individual enemies are fairly typical in design, the large aquatic bosses do liven things up a bit once you reach the end of each level, so all is not completely lost.

The soundtrack in Darius Twin is a difficult one to pin down. On one hand there are some very catchy melodies to be heard, but sadly the synthesized instruments used to play them tend to be very grating and many times come off sounding rather flat. They're complimented by the usual batch of explosions and sirens wailing as the bosses approach, but don't expect much beyond that. After experiencing such musical masterpieces as R-Type and Lords of Thunder, it's a bit difficult to stomach something this lacklustre.

Conclusion

The Darius series has always been a bit streaky in terms of playability and difficulty, so it comes as no real surprise to see Darius Twin leaning heavily to the side of bland gameplay and fairly low difficulty. If you're a fan of the series and just can't pass up a Darius release, you should find at least enough to provide you with a couple of hours of shooting action, but for everyone else, there are just far too many outstanding shooters available on the Virtual Console service to recommend this rather insipid offering.

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