After playing a ton of missions in the CS mode of DariusBurst: Chronicle Saviours, I was starting feel like I was getting pretty good at the game. So I figured, why not test my skills on something really hard? The game’s trophy list seems to have a fixation on clearing the “QUZ” route of the game’s arcade mode (which lets you select what levels in a branching path) without dying or getting damaged, so I figured that the route must be pretty tough. Naturally I don’t expect to clear it without dying, but I figured it might be worth trying to see how far I’ve come.
The first stop on my path to glory was Zone Q. This level is all about meteors flying into your face. Thankfully the flying rocks are completely destructible, which means that they’re really good for keeping my laser indefinitely charged as it clears a way through the all the rocks. Things become a little more interesting as I began to fly around indestructible rocks that had enemies hiding on them, but overall the level is pretty straightforward, and, dare I say, easy.
Zone Q’s boss similarly seems to be a bit of a pushover. My opponent was Dark Flare, an eel-looking battleship with a neat Mohawk. Dark Flare’s main gimmick seems to be that it can coil its long body around you, all while shooting out massive amounts of bullets at you from its body. My laser effectively cut out most of the danger of the attack. Beyond that, the boss seems to spend an excessive amount of time just firing a giant red laser that is pretty easy to avoid. After making surprisingly short work of my foe, I was ready to move on.
Zone U raises the stakes. Shortly after your arrival, enemies begin to surround you in circular patterns, limiting your mobility to a very small area in between them. The main thing I began to worry about here was enemies swarming me from two directions at once. Sometimes large swarms would pull up from my right and left and other times cannons would come from directly above and below me. With the threat of so many enemies coming from every side of the screen, I felt myself gravitating towards the middle of the stage, which is unfortunately one of the most dangerous places to be, since that is where all the enemy bullets seem to converge.
After surviving the onslaught, I ran into the boss of this area: Heavy Gluttons. Heavy Gluttons is a giant finish battleship surrounded by a host of tinier glowing battleships. The machine’s assault started off with the ships floating around Heavy Gluttons like a barrier while firing off a constant barrage of bullets. Quickly realizing this was way too much for me to handle, I activated my laser to try to deflect as much of the bullets as I could.
My laser helped, but not as much I hoped. Heavy Gluttons began to fire a giant laser of its own, that it drags up and down across the screen. I was forced to move in very close to Heavy Gluttons to reach the laser’s blind spot. Unfortunately this left me with only a small triangle’s worth of space to work with in avoiding the bullets the minions were firing. I lost more than a few brave ships to this combination.
After Heavy Gluttons gets bored of that, it actually seems to give you a breather. The big ship flies into the background and sends its glowing minions directly at you instead. Neither my bullets nor my laser were strong enough to kill the tinier ships, so I had no choice but to dodge them. Once that wave was over, things actually got extremely easy, as I managed to place my laser right in the middle which managed to cancel out a lot of bullets as the first phase of the fight repeated. It only took about a minute for him the Heavy Gluttons to finally fall.
Finally, I reached Zone Z. The opening surprisingly doesn’t seem that bad, with enemy waves coming at you one by one at a relatively slow pace. Things start get to get trickier as enemies at the bottom of the screen sitting on ruins start to appear (I thought I was in space but I guess I ended up in an underwater city somehow) and shoot you from inconvenient angles. Some of the ruins jut out which blocks all of your shots and almost forces you to just let the enemies fire shots as they please.
Zone Z really doesn’t feel like the previous levels, which makes it fitting that it’s the last one. I ended up treating this section almost like a platformer. Instead of blowing up my foes to prevent them from shooting at me, I began to time my advances to just narrowly avoid their shots. My laser helped me block some bullets and get past the last section, but since I wasn’t really killing any enemies, the help didn’t last for long.
The last stretch of level following the ruins requires you to take on a robotic seahorse, and it puts up a fight almost as tough as some bosses. Not only does the seahorse take what seems like a million shots to kill, but it fires off incredibly hard to dodge bullet patterns as it spins across the screen. To make matters worse, tons of other enemy waves were continually flying at me, including ones that fire off giant red lasers that severely restricted my movement. I eventually took the seahorse down, and the level seems to quiet down a lot. The game threw a few more simple waves of enemies at me, and then I finally reached the final boss.
My final foe was G.T.V, a gigantic whale battleship that takes no prisoners. G.T.V is a monster of firepower, and it starts off by firing almost every type of bullet or laser in the game at you, with an additional giant missile exclusive to the boss. My only strategy was to have my laser block as much of the artillery it could while I focused on trying to survive.
G.T.V absolutely destroyed me. I seemed to be dying every few seconds because there’s so much happening on-screen. It has different patterns of attack as it lumbers across the screen, but all of them involve totally filling the screen with hazards. I could see myself someday getting past the rest of this route without dying, but G.T.V was just too much for me.
Draining G.T.V’s massive amount of health left me feeling rather unsatisfied. I had practiced a lot in the game’s C.S. mode beforehand, and while I certainly didn’t expect to become a master at the game, the final fight remained pretty humbling. I still have a long way to go before I can become a shmup master.
Food for Thought:
Beyond the route-picking, the biggest difference between the CS and Arcade modes is actually your viewing area. The original Arcade version of DariusBurst is known for having a very long screen, which this version tries to emulate, but it makes the game’s visibility suffer a bit in the transition, as everything is much smaller compared to the more zoomed-in CS mode. This is especially bad in the Vita version, where you can barely see your ship and the game is surrounding by obnoxiously large black borders. If you want to take on the QUZ route yourself, I’d highly recommend doing it on the PS4 over Vita.