1995 Sega Saturn

The last fully 2D Darius game is still a subject of much contention among hardcore shooter fans. Many long-term fans of the series seem to dislike the fact that Darius Gaiden has 'smart-bombs', but it has to be said that the Silver Hawk's 'Black Hole Bomber' weapon is still one of the most visually impresive effects in a 2D shoot em up. Also it seems that the difficulty of the game's many bosses is a bit too much for many to cope with (see Hard Bosses). Still what we have here is a very competent horizontal scrolling shooter with attractive and often psychadelic 'anime' style visuals (god knows what the Taito designers were on at the time) and memorable bosses, some great weapons, varied stages (28 in total through multiple branching routes), a spaced-out but truly evocative Zuntata soundtrack (some people dislike it but I love it myself) and a lot more replay value than a whole bunch of shooters out there - I still have yet to see 3 out of 7 of the multiple endings in the game after a lot of play over the years. It was also one of the few Saturn shooters to reach Western shores (along with Rayforce/Galactic Attack) via Acclaim, so you might be able to get it fairly cheaply nowadays. I'd recommend picking it up if you can do so relatively painlessly.

Japanese booklet artwork detailing the games' first three
bosses 'Golden Ogre', 'King Fossil' and Electric Fan'


Acclaims' release in the West (this is the European version) featured completely
revamped cover artwork seemingly bearing no relationship with the actual game.
Why did they do this? The original Japanese artwork was so much better!

Darius Gaiden fans should look out for a massive Rogues Gallery feature
I'm working on at the moment highlighting all of the game's 28 stages and
20 different bosses (phew!). Coming soon.. ;)