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Updated March 10, 2005

Darius Gaiden

From the arcade to your home in just under a decade! That’s the unspoken battle cry of Interplay’s Value Division. In this case, the arcade game in question comes to us by way of the disastrous Sega Saturn console -- but the less said about that the better. As easy as it would seem to kick around a 2001 release of the nonsensical space shooter Darius Gaiden onto the PC -- believe me I was ready to do just that-- it’s actually a surprisingly solid value title.

Like all the classic side-scrolling shooters, Darius Gaiden is about fast-paced mayhem. The game plays straight off the CD with no installation necessary, and less than a minute after opening the package you can be furiously dodging dozens of projectiles.

An inscrutable attempt at a story flashes across the screen (aliens are bad, get ‘em!) for a couple of seconds, then it’s straight into the dogfight. Anyone who has played one of the dozens of Japanese space shooters that once swarmed arcades will be immediately familiar with the kill-things-and-pick-up-weapons gameplay, and novices won’t exactly find it rocket science to puzzle it out. There’s only two buttons and lots of swerving.

Okay, so it’s not a particularly impressive game by today’s standards, but as a value title Darius Gaiden delivers. For a $9.99 MSRP (we found it online for as little as $4), you get 28 levels with branching paths and ridiculously complicated level bosses to keep things interesting. The game is playable in multiplayer mode on the same keyboard, and it runs just fine off of any old Pentium machine. For fans of the old-school side-scrollers or folks who don’t mind dropping less than the price of a movie ticket for a fast, fun, brainless diversion, Darius Gaiden is a great buy.

--Daniel Erickson


 FINAL VERDICT
PC Gamer 74%

   

100% - 90%
EDITORS' CHOICE - We're battening down the hatches and limiting our coveted Editors' Choice award to games that score a 90% or higher. It's not easy to get here, and darn near impossible to get near 100%. Games in this range come with our unqualified recommendation, an unreserved must-buy score.

89% - 80%
EXCELLENT - These are excellent games. Anything that scores in this range is well worth your purchase, and is likely a great example of its genre. This is also a scoring range where we might reward specialist/niche games that are a real breakthrough in their own way.

79% - 70%
GOOD - These are pretty good games that we recommend to fans of the particular genre, though it's a safe bet you can probably find better options.

69% - 60%
ABOVE AVERAGE - Reasonable, above-average games. They might be worth buying, but they probably have a few significant flaws that limit their appeal.

59% - 50%
MERELY OKAY - Very ordinary games. They're not completely worthless, but there are likely numerous better places to spend your gaming dollar.

49% - 40%
TOLERABLE - Poor quality. Only a few slightly redeeming features keep these games from falling into the abyss of the next category.

39% - 0%
DON'T BOTHER - Just terrible. And the lower you go, the more worthless you get. Avoid these titles like the plague, and don't say we didn't warn you!


Drakan: Order of the Flame  69%
Driver  78%
Drome Racers  59%
Ducati World Racing  28%
Duke Nukem: Manhattan Project  75%
Dune  25%
Dungeon Keeper 2  89%
Dungeon Siege  91%
Dungeon Siege: Legends of Aranna  80%
Earth & Beyond  80%
Earth 2150: Lost Souls  80%
Echelon: Wind Warriors  79%
Elder Scrolls III: Bloodmoon  84%
Emergency Fire Response  70%
Emergency Rescue  24%
Emperor: Rise of the Middle Kingdom  72%
Empire Earth  85%
Empire of Magic  68%
Empire of the Ants  56%
Empires: Dawn of the Modern World  80%