Taito’s Darius series has always stood out from other shoot ‘em ups thanks to its unique sea life-themed enemy ships and memorable Zuntata soundtracks. A few years back, Dariusburst: Chronicle Saviours arrived on PlayStation and Steam, impressing fans with its 4-player co-op and robust gameplay modes. Now, the arcade follow-up Dariusburst: Another Chronicle EX Plus has launched on PlayStation and Switch (sorry, PC gamers) with a handful of new content but without some of the additions from Chronicle Saviours. Which version is the one to get? That depends…
Note: We'll be describing the game as DARIUSBURST: Another Chronicle EX Plus because our system really doesn't like to display the plus symbol. The real title has the symbol in it.
DARIUSBURST: Another Chronicle EX Plus is a 2.5D side-scrolling shoot 'em that utilized a dual-monitor setup in arcades. PlayStation and Switch don't support dual monitors, so Another Chronicle EX Plus presents the large gameplay field in a letterboxed format. The game is totally playable like this, but certain elements like the map screen in Chronicle Mode are difficult to read because of the zoomed-out view. The Steam version of Chronicle Saviours looks incredible when played on dual monitors, so it’s a real shame that Another Chronicle EX Plus has not been released on Steam.
In gameplay, Another Chronicle EX Plus is virtually identical to Chronicle Saviours. After the lead player selects a game mode, he or she can generally select between limited lives or unlimited lives for the game session, with the latter disabling online leaderboard support. Nearly all content supports 4-player drop-in, drop-out local co-op. Everyone shares lives when playing with limited lives, so you’ll want to choose unlimited when playing with less skilled players. Players can select from 9 ships, each with slightly different weaponry and burst attacks. The ships mostly come from past Darius games (I prefer the Gaiden version), but the Silver-Hawk Murakumo is newly created for this installment.
Another Chronicle EX Plus includes these four modes. All support 4-player local co-op unless otherwise noted:
Original Mode: Play the original Dariusburst arcade game with branching paths and 12 levels in total. Original and Original EX Mode have lots of different endings, greatly adding to the replay value.
Original EX Mode: Structured the same as Original Mode, this adds 12 harder stages to the mix.
Chronicle Mode: A huge mode filled with remixed stages that are accessible and replayable from a galactic map. Some levels are locked to 2-player or 4-player co-op, so completionists will need co-op buddies to finish them all!
Event Mode: A collection of levels that were available in arcades for a limited time, including 8 exclusive new stages featuring music by Zuntata’s Shohei Tsuchiya. Of the 21 total stages in Event Mode, 17 support 4-player co-op, 1 supports 2-player co-op, and 3 are restricted to single-player.
Event Mode, the ability to automatically saved replays, and the ninth playable ship are the only significant additions to Another Chronicle EX Plus. I love the savable replays, but the replays don’t seem to be sharable, severely limiting the usefulness of the feature.
Another Chronicle EX Plus offers a good volume of content on its own, but the game is missing two important modes from Chronicle Saviours: CS Mode and DLC Mode. CS Mode is a robust single-player mode in which the playing field utilizes the full 16:9 screen instead of the letterboxed view of other modes. The DLC mode allows players to take on expensively priced and overly difficult levels featuring ships from other game series such as Fantasy Zone and Space Harrier. Given the high price and un-fun difficulty of the DLC, its omission is probably not a huge loss for most players. CS Mode, though, was the best part of Chronicle Saviours and is sorely missed.
DARIUSBURST: Another Chronicle EX Plus is a great shoot ‘em up, but it’s hard to recommend over the previous installment, Dariusburst: Chronicle Saviours. The new content here does not exceed Chronicle Saviours’ exclusive content in size or quality. Only hardcore Darius fans will want to buy both games. If you don’t already own Chronicle Saviours, though, then price and platform must surely be considered. Another Chronicle EX Plus sells for $40, $10 less than Chronicle Saviours. You can get Another Chronicle EX Plus on PlayStation or Switch, whereas Chronicle Saviours is only available on PlayStation and Steam. Both games offer great visuals, excellent music, 4-player co-op, and lots of fish-shooting fun, so make sure you don’t miss out on Dariusburst!
A PlayStation code was provided by the publisher for review.
The Co-Op Experience: All four game modes support 4-player co-op, though certain levels have restrictions on player count. In co-op, all players share lives (unless the Infinite Ships option is selected). Players who run out of lives can't continue until the last remaining player dies.
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