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Majyuuou (SNES) artwork

Majyuuou (SNES) review

"A colorful apocalypse"

Majyuuou (SNES) imageMajyuuou (SNES) image

The Super Nintendo was host to a wide plethora of memorable action titles, from Super Castlevania IV to Mega Man X. However, there are IPs that didn't take off but still tried to do something unique. King of Demons -- that's the English translation of this Japan exclusive, by the way, and the tile I'll be using for this review -- is one of those games, and it may be your next favorite if you're into difficult action platformers.

King of Demons is an action platformer with a Gothic setting. The game begins with Abel, the apparent "strongest fighter in the world," tracking down the man who kidnapped his wife and daughter, but, alas, they have been sacrificed for demonic power. It turns out a handgun isn't effective against demons unless you're roughly Dante-tier, so Abel gets beaten up only to be revived by the might of anime women bestowing willpower. After a brief scuffle, you run into the ghost of your late wife, who turns into a scantily clad fairy so she can help you save your daughter from the Demon World. Just like anime!

Majyuuou (SNES) imageMajyuuou (SNES) image

Abel has a very small moveset that you'd better master quick if you're not to be torn to shreds by the relentlessly difficult levels. He has a very Castlevania-esque jump with no air control, a reliable projectile, a drop kick that's really easy to misuse and get hurt with, and an indispensible roll that has a few invincibility frames. Aside from the sweet dodging, movement feels very constrained, but Abel has a mildly generous health bar, considering the genre. As an immodest fairy, Abel's wife Maria can swipe at enemies if the player uses a directional input when attacking; very handy, especially for a deceased spouse. Abel himself gets some more power to his techniques after transforming into demonic states upon defeating certain bosses; there's no reason, he just shoots a demon in the face and suddenly a bolt of lightning strikes him and it's Devil Trigger time. Just like anime!

Hard-as-nails gameplay alone doesn't sell for me unless the movement is fluid, but the aesthetic of King of Demons is its best draw. It is by no means the most technologically impressive game on the SNES -- that honor is reserved for R2: Rendering Ranger -- yet it is without a doubt one of the best-looking. The artistic style recalls Berserk at times while still being all its own, and the backgrounds and tile sets may be the best I've seen in any 16-bit game. Overgrown cities, industrial sewers, and mountains frozen and volcanic have been seen in many a title, but seldom as beautifully rendered as in King of Demons. Unfortunately, the game takes its Gothic inspirations too far.

Majyuuou (SNES) imageMajyuuou (SNES) image

Something rather peculiar about King of Demons is just how most certainly not family friendly it is. Such is to be expected from a game titled "King of Demons," but I can't say I know of many other Super Nintendo games, or even Nintendo games in general, with the violence, approximate nudity, and profanity found in this 1995 SNES title. There's even a train level with f-bomb graffiti and a pointless flogging scene! All this unwelcome grimdark-ness led me to believe that the abrupt bad ending was just how the game concluded. However, it turns out I missed one of the game's core features.

Remember that deal with the lightning making you transform? Yeah, well, it turns out that you have plenty of cooler forms to pick from, such as a blue dragon or a pherodactyl-man. There's no explanation for this in-game, so those of us emulating a translated ROM got no information as to this mechanic. If you want to play this game, do yourself a favor and look up how to use these forms in order to get the good ending. I understand some info got lost in translation since the game intended the player to read its manual, but it would have been better to reference the games own mechanics in the actual game. And hey, maybe don't have any ending to your difficult game be a short, lousy one? Sure, Environmental Station Alpha had the same problem, but ESA's design was so sublime that it's still one of my all-time favorites. Even the "good" ending here isn't satisfying, so don't play this for the story.

Majyuuou (SNES) imageMajyuuou (SNES) image

Despite the poor choice to lock players into a bad ending by starving them of important information in-game, King of Demons is a solid action game for the SNES. I wasn't a big fan of the gameplay, but the wonderfully creative aesthetics and some of the best backgrounds and tilesets in any pixellated game kept my interest for its short duration. Fans of old-school Castlevania, Ghost 'N Ghouls, and the like should check this one out.


Follow_Freeman's avatar
Community review by Follow_Freeman (March 06, 2018)

When he isn't in a life-or-death situation, Dr. Freeman enjoys playing a variety of video games. From olden shooters to platformers & action titles: Freeman may be a bit stuck with the games of the past, but he doesn't mind. Some things don't age much.

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If you enjoyed this Majyuuou review, you're encouraged to discuss it with the author and with other members of the site's community. If you don't already have an HonestGamers account, you can sign up for one in a snap. Thank you for reading!

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Masters posted March 08, 2018:

Good, funny review of a game I'd never heard of. The screenshots are intriguing too; how does this compare with something like Actraiser 2, another very difficult platformer with great graphics?
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EmP posted March 10, 2018:

This is a very good review, but it's an excellent choice of game to talk about. I wasn't even aware this was a thing, and you make it sound like something I should have known about.
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Follow_Freeman posted March 10, 2018:

Thanks for the positive feedback! If I were to make a specific comparison, I would say that a major difference between this and Actraiser 2 is that your sprite here is very, very small. This allows for more situational awareness of stuff going on onscreen (though this is an old action game, so expect plenty of untelegraphed attacks), and while not every object gets lots of detail, the zoomed-out camera allows for big vistas.

What saves the gameplay from being bad is that roll; the jump has zero air control, and this may be a favorite of mine if that wasn't the case. Majin Buu -- I mean, Majyuuou is still really cool, though; just not something one who hasn't grown up with Super Castlevania IV and the like may enjoy. I'm glad we've moved on from jumps/air control in games being like irreversible tickets to likely death.

Also, keep an eye out for more cool forgotten gems...

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