Genre: Shmup Developer: Frontier Development Ltd. Publisher: Sega Europe Players: 1 Released: 1995
Anyone who owns a 32X, or for that matter has even heard of the 32X, has heard of the legendary game DarXide. DarXide (pronounced “Dark Side” but spelled differently due to copyright reasons) is an extremely rare Europe exclusive 32X game released in 1996. It also bears the distinction of being the last 32X title released worldwide. Cart-only versions of this game run in excess of $250, and the game ranks a nine on the Digital press rarity scale. It’s really rare as you can see, but is it really worth the price and the hype? Let’s find out.
DarXide is a 3D shooter much like Star Wars Arcade. You control a ship shooting asteroids and other craft in the same from-behind view of your ship as Star Wars Arcade does. The story of the game is that you’re a lone fighter trying to destroy asteroids that have been displaced from their natural belt by aliens and save the miners stranded on them. Think of it as a 3D take on Asteroids. The storyline is really thin, but the game’s a simple space shooter, so it’s not that big of a deal.
The gameplay in DarXide, again, is a lot like Star Wars Arcade; you’re just flying around and shooting stuff. Now you’re probably thinking “Well, I loved Star Wars Arcade’s gameplay, so this game must be great, right?” Wrong. This game takes the simple, addicting gameplay of Lucas Arts hit and screws it up, plain and simple.
The first problem that I have is how slippery the controls are. The game is just too fast-paced for its own good. You fly by targets so fast that it’s a wonder you’ll even notice them. In order to actually control the ship well enough to play the game, I had to slow it down as much as it could possibly go. Trying to make a turn in this game is ridiculous too, and aiming at a target? Forget it; you’ll probably end up ramming into it instead because of how fast your ship goes. Turning is worsened by the high speed. I end up flying into something behind me or passing by what I was turning around to shoot at because of how fast the ship controls. Even your laser shooting seems really sped up for some reason. The speed is a real problem in DarXide. And that fact that the radar is so crushed up at the top of the screen and only designates enemies and objects as little square dots makes it even harder to find out where you are going. Often I find myself wandering aimlessly because I sped too fast past that asteroid that I had to destroy.
The second problem is that there is no crosshair. Whose smart idea was it to leave out the crosshair in a space shooter? That’s like trying to use a sniper rifle with no scope attached to shoot people far away. It just doesn’t work at all. Trying to target something in this game is near-impossible. The only time a crosshair actually comes up is when you are looking dead-on a target, and since the game’s speed is so fast, your chances of that happening are slim. Combine no crosshair with a ship that goes too fast, and you get some of the worst controls I have ever seen in a space flight simulator. They are just absolutely horrendous.
The graphics in DarXide are actually really nice. It’s the only game in the 32X’s library to have texture mapped polygons, and everything looks really well done. There aren’t any flat-looking textures here, and for 1996, they don’t look nearly as aged as the graphics in Star Wars Arcade do. When you look at this game and then play it, you would think that the developers put all their effort in the graphics and nearly none into the gameplay. The sound in this game is pretty decent, and the tunes sound like your average space shooter stuff, but it’s nothing very memorable.
In conclusion, don’t give into the hype about DarXide. It’s more or less a space shooter that looks nice and plays horribly. I wouldn’t pay $50 for this game. If you’re looking for a new exclusive title for the 32X that you MIGHT get some enjoyment out of, try to find Spiderman: Web of Fire. But always remember this: “just because it’s rare and expensive, does NOT mean that it’s a good game.”