The side-scrolling shoot ’em up genre pretty much peaked in the late eighties, with games like R-Type and Gradius spawning numerous clones and a few sequels as well. The ‘bullet hell shooter’ emerges a decade later, but traditional side scrollers remained popular, with new releases popping up on every console generation so far. The Darius series is no exception, because the series that started over 25 years ago just had Dariusburst: Chronicle Saviours come out for PC, PS4 and Playstation Vita. We had a go with the Playstation versions.
To be fair, Chronicle Saviours isn’t an entirely new game, but rather an enhanced version of the Dariusburst game that was originally released for Sony’s PSP and later re-released in arcades with extra content and features. The latest release contains all that and more, and is the ultimate Darius experience so far, faithful to the source material – at times, almost to a fault. Luckily, a ton of extra content was added on top of what was there to begin with, making for a package that is richer in content than any shooter we’ve seen before.
Dariusbust: Chronicle Saviours features thousands (!) of stages and multiple game modes, but the majority or the game can be split up into two parts: the brand new Chronicle Saviours mode that it’s named after and the Another Chronicle EX mode that is a carbon copy of the game that was released in arcades a few years ago.
The arcade game comes with a feature that unfortunately holds the home version back a little: the game was released with an ultra wide-screen monitor (with a 32×9 aspect ratio), which is basically two regular monitors side by side. This experience is recreated on the PS4 and the Vita, but it’s done by scaling down everything to a single screen, keeping the ‘wide perspective’ (and aspect ratio) of the arcade original intact. The downside of this? The top and bottom of the screen aren’t being used and the part of the screen that shows the actual gameplay becomes quite a bit smaller. Somewhat bothersome on the PS4, a real issue on the Vita’s handheld screen (see the screenshot below for how wide this is exactly).
The technical conversion to Playstation is excellent, with responsible controls and silky smooth frame rates. When the screen size isn’t an issue, this makes for a wonderful old school shooter experience. Luckily, the Chronicle Saviours mode doesn’t restrict you to the ultra wide perspective of the arcade game and this is where Dariusburst really shines. In Chronicle Saviours, you fight through over 200 stages with ships and enemies that are lifted from (or inspired by) the Darius games that came before it. The game looks especially impressive on the Vita this way, with excellent performance throughout and explosive and colorful visuals.
Chronicles Saviours features all the crazy fish-like spaceships the Darius series is known for, as well as an original storyline which strings everything together. It’s a AAA retro shooter for the PS4 and Vita – platforms which don’t have too many of those. The game was introduced with a hefty price tag which may hold some people back or wait for a sale, but there’s a wealth of content here that is sure to make shooter fans very happy. It’s a shame that the arcade portion doesn’t quite live up to its potential (especially on the Vita), but the Chronicle Saviours mode is excellent and makes Another Chronicle a great bonus. The game is also Playstation TV compatible, so if you own one of those then that would be a way to enjoy the Vita version on a larger screen. Either way, a great example of how old school shooters should be done, despite the minor issues in parts of the game.