G Darius is a 2D side-scrolling shoot-em-up and the 4th mainline game in the Darius series. The player controls a futuristic ship, called the Silver Hawk, and shoots hordes of enemies ranging from robot ships to organic creatures such as fish or birds. Many of the enemy ships are modeled to look like fish or birds as well. The emphasis is on lots of firepower and tons of enemies.
This game is notable for being the first Darius game with polygonal rendering. The player can obtain shield, primary weapon, and secondary weapon power ups for the Silver Hawk during the course of a stage. The ability to capture and control enemy ships using Capture Balls makes a reappearance from the previous game in the series, Darius Gaiden, although captured enemy ships can now be used throughout the entire stage. This was also the first Darius game to adopt the "beam duel" mechanic in boss battles first introduced in Metal Black, another Taito shooter.
The PlayStation version features 3 main modes:
- Arcade Mode - This mode is taken straight from the arcade version
- Beginner Mode - This mode has adjustable difficulty levels and ship customization. It's designed for players who are not ready for Arcade Mode.
- Vs. Boss Mode - This is a boss rush mode which allows the player to fight all the enemy battleships bosses that appear in Arcade Mode.
Zones and Areas
As with all Darius games, levels are called Zones, and upon completing a level and defeating the level's boss the player is presented with a branching Zone tree and must select which of the next two Zones they wish to tackle. Zones are labeled with Greek letters, and the zones the player picks determine the difficulty level of the game - all zones cannot be experienced in a single playthrough.
As is traditional for the series, G-Darius is a horizontally-oriented shoot-em-up, with the ship on the left side of the screen, facing the right. Occasionally in boss battles, the ship will switch to the right side of the screen and face the left. Some levels also feature a diagonal view with the ship pointed up in a 45 degree angle.
By shooting certain enemies the Silver Hawk can obtain power ups that add weapon upgrades. Weapon upgrades are broken up into different categories and are based on the color of the power up. They include:
- Red - Missiles (for shooting air enemies)
- Green - Bombs (for shooting ground enemies)
- Blue - Shields (for protecting the ship)
- Purple - Capture Balls (for controlling enemy ships)
- Silver - Extra Points
- Gold - Major Damage (Instant destruction to all enemies on screen)
Capturing Enemy Ships
The Silver Hawk can use a Capture Ball to capture and take control of any enemy ship. The enemy ship acts as a satellite ship or "option" that fires its own weapon. Capturing larger enemies can also allow the player to execute more powerful attacks using button combos a-la Street Fighter. Additionally, captured ships can be consumed by firing an "alpha beam" - a powerful screen-filling laser blast. Bosses occasionally fire their own alpha beams, and if the player triggers their own alpha beam right when the boss does, the Silver Hawk can push back and neutralize the boss's alpha beam in a "beam duel".
G Darius features a considerable number of different bosses confronted at the end of each level. Most of the boss characters (some of which have 2 different color variations) are presented as gigantic mechanic battleships that resemble various sea creatures such as a jellyfish, sea devil or an oversized shrimp. Every boss battle is preceded by a short cutscene showing the superior size and power of the enemy.
- Eclipse Eye
- Tripod Sardine
- Queen Fossil
- Dual Horn
- Dimension Diver
- Absolute Defender
- Fire Fossil
- Death Wings
- Eight Feet Umbrella
- Eternal Triangle
- Lightning Coronatus
- Heavy Arms Shell
- The Embryon
- Accordion Hazard
- G.T. (Gerat Thing)
Arcade Ver. 2
A revision of the original arcade version, titled G-Darius Ver. 2, was released exclusively in arcades. This version contained balance fixes, added a Beginner Mode option, increased the difficulty, and added timers to boss battles, granting players extra score for dispatching them quickly. As of this writing this version of the game has never been released or ported outside of Japanese arcades.
The original arcade game ran on the Taito FX-1B arcade board, which was based on the retail Sony PlayStation hardware. The home PlayStation port of the arcade version is relatively faithful to the arcade original, adds the Beginner Mode similar to Ver. 2 (but oddly lacks other Ver. 2 changes) and a boss rush mode not found in the arcade version, but runs at half the framerate (30 vs 60FPS) and suffers from significant slowdown in spots, due to the PlayStation's reduced VRAM and slower main CPU.
PS2 Taito Legends 2 Port
A version of the game was also included in the PlayStation 2 version of the Taito Legends 2 compilation. It is not the PlayStation version, but is instead a direct port of the original arcade release (not Ver. 2). It does not run at the original game's 240p resolution however, and is line-doubled to match the then-typical 480i resolution.