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Darius (Arcade)

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Title Screen


Developer: Taito
Publishers: Taito (JP/US), Electrocoin (EU)
Platform: Arcade (Custom)
Released in JP: February 1987
Released in US: March 1987
Released in EU: 1987

DevTextIcon.png This game has hidden development-related text.
GraphicsIcon.png This game has unused graphics.
LevelSelectIcon.png This game has a hidden level select.
RegionIcon.png This game has regional differences.
Carts.png This game has revisional differences.

Darius is a triple-screen bass-pumping seafood-blasting extravaganza!

Debug Functions

Crash Handler

Both the main and sub CPUs have handlers for the standard 68000 exception vectors. The main CPU will write to the right monitor, while the sub CPU will write to the left monitor.

Debug Mode

There's code in the dip switch lookup subroutine that would change the function of dip switches A4, B7, and B8 if dip switch A1 (The first one labelled as "Unknown" in MAME) was set, but in the final game this dip switch is essentially ignored. Put this code in darius.xml to restore the functionality of dip switch A1:

  <cheat desc="Enable Debug Dip Switch">
    <script state="run">
    <script state="off">


  • Dip switch A4 will enable No-Hit mode (Game status bit 0x0002). Enemies, their projectiles, and the terrain will no longer harm the player, but colliding with a boss still will.
  • Dip switch B7 will enable a stage select (Game status bit 0x0020); Insert coin(s), then hold 1P Button 2 while pressing 1P / 2P Start to access it. Use 1P Joystick to choose a stage, and press 1P Button 2 again to start a new game.
  • Dip switch B8 will enable game status bit 0x0010, which doesn't seem to be referenced anywhere in any version of the game.

(Initial discovery: ねこ自慢ブログ (升) Wayder Cheat 0.191)
(Dip switch fix: Original TCRF research)

Free Play

Game status bit 0x0004 toggles Free Play mode, but there's no code in the game that sets that bit. Put this code in darius.xml and enable it to trigger Free Play mode:

  <cheat desc="Free Play">
    <script state="run">
      <action>maincpu.pw@822EC=0004|(maincpu.pw@822EC BAND ~0004)</action>
    <script state="off">
      <action>maincpu.pw@822EC=0000|(maincpu.pw@822EC BAND ~0004)</action>
(Source: Original TCRF research)

Unused Graphics


Darius was originally planned to include 26 bosses, one for each zone. But due to time constraints, the final game ended up having only 11 bosses. Two of the cut designs -- Hyper Sting, a lionfish, and Mystic Power, a nautilus -- only made it onto the artwork on the front of the game's Japanese flyer...

...and two more made it in sprite form onto the inside of the flyer: Big Rajarnn, a stingray, and Guard Savage, a tiger shark. They'd be found in (at least) Zone G and Zone S, respectively.

(Scan source: The Arcade Flyer Archive)

As was stated in a developer interview, the art for the latter two bosses is still in the game's sprite graphics ROM, though the tilemaps, palettes, and coding for these bosses are nonexistent. The closest fit for Big Rajarnn's palette is Electric Fan-B, though the real palette should use deeper purples.

Scaled-down versions of both bosses were used in Super Darius, Darius Alpha, and Darius Plus. To fit the less powerful TurboGrafx systems, the animation of the back pincers was removed, and one of the frames of the laser ports flashing was taken out. This is the only version of Big Rajarnn that keeps the blue eyes seen in the concept art.

DariusArcBigRajarnnTail.gif DariusArcBigRajarnnDamaged.png

Graphics for firing and damaged laser ports. The TurboGrafx sprite cuts down the firing frames from 5 to just 1 and removes the highest-angled tail sprite entirely. Conversely, the energy wave projectiles from Super Darius are nowhere to be found in the original Darius.

The closest palette for Guard Savage is Green Coronatus, though it should be pure green instead of the blue-green colors seen here. Compared to Big Rajarnn, Guard Savage made it to Super Darius relatively unscathed; two of its front flipper frames were removed, and the pectoral and caudal fins were slightly reduced in size.

DariusArcGuardSavageBlast.gif DariusArcGuardSavageDamaged.png

Firing animation and damaged variant. The TurboGrafx ports actually increase the firing animation from 7 to 8 frames and add shark-shaped projectiles and caudal firing sprites that don't exist in Darius. The damaged sprite is completely different: In Darius, it seems that the caudal fin and caudal armor could be destroyed, while in Super Darius, the first dorsal fin and pectoral fin are the destructible parts of Guard Savage.

(Source: Magma MK-II)


Japanese text, 画面後方にさがれ, that translates to "Get behind the screen!" Bosses always spawn on the right monitor, so it might have been used to give the player a heads-up on that.

(Translation: Divingkataetheweirdo)
Early Final
DariusArcPlayerEarly.gif DariusArcPlayerFinal.gif

An earlier version of the player ship, the Silver Hawk model 3F-1B, is the first sprite in the sprite graphics ROM. This version is technically more on-model than the final sprite, though that doesn't necessarily mean it looks better.


Unused vertical and diagonal versions of the Missile weapon. Upgrading the Missile weapon might have been planned to transform it into a three-way or five-way shot instead of just doubling and tripling the player's bullet output.

DariusArcWaveSmall.gif DariusArcWaveLarge.gif

There are eight different versions of the Wave weapon in the sprite graphics ROM, one for each level of power, but the smallest and largest two aren't used.

Early Later
DariusArcMiniShip1.gif DariusArcMiniShip2.gif

Smaller versions of the player's ship. According to a developer interview, the power-up system originally included pods that circled your player's ship, so that's probably what these are. At some point, the flames and tips of the ship's wings were touched up.


HUD icons for these pods also exist and would have been second and third-tier upgrades to the "Arm" shield system. No code or tilemaps for either the pods or the icons exist in either CPU.

Early Final
DariusArcRawagasEarly.gif DariusArcRawagasFinal.gif

An earlier version of the Rawagas enemy. This older version is taller, lacks the glowing animation of the final design, and has a duplicate flashing frame.

Early Final
DariusArcEndingHatchEarly.png DariusArcEndingHatchFinal.png

The Zone X ending consists of the player moving into a larger mothership. The hatch for the ship originally used a much simpler design...

...which was meant to split open with the help of these two sprites, at which point the ship(s) would go into the mothership on their own. This was changed to having the hatch retract into the ship, then the player ships are transported into the mothership by a tractor beam - DariusArcEndingTractor.gif

(Source: Original TCRF research)

Demo Easter Egg

Every time a demo starts, there's a 1/256 chance that the text "DEMO PLAY BY H.HASHIMOTO" will be printed on the left monitor. Hideki Hashimoto is one of the game's programmers.

(Source: Original TCRF research)

Version Differences


The way that the player continues and the nature of dip switch B8 was changed in non-Japanese sets:


  • In JP sets, players cannot continue on their own, but a second player can join an in-progress game unless they're in Zones V through Z. If dip switch B8 is set, players will be unable to join in-progress games.


  • In the World and US set, players can continue in single-player games and join in-progress games, again, unless they're in Zones V through Z. If dip switch B8 is set, players will be unable to continue, but a second player can join an in-progress game one time only.


  • There's an extra feature that can only be triggered in the US Set: If both Coin A and Coin B coin settings are set to 2 Coins / 1 Credit, continuing only costs a single coin. This half-price feature can be disabled by flipping dip switch B7.


The checksum verification subroutines in the first JP set (labeled dariuso in MAME) seem to be bugged, so they won't be able to detect changes in the main or sub CPUs. This was fixed in all other sets.

Both JP sets have an oversight where if a player enters at the start of the game before the transition ends, they'll be able to move around freely while the other player is stuck in place.

(Source: Original TCRF research)

Darius - Extra Version

To do:
  • Difficulty rebalance changes.
  • Swapped hidden white/yellow orbs.

An even later version of the game that was released only in Japan.

  • The replicating orbs that preceded the bosses are more bouncy, making them more of a threat and slightly harder to take them all out.


  • A point bonus has been added after defeating the final zones which rewards the players with 1,000,000 for each extra life that they have remaining.