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Deathsmiles (Xbox 360) artwork

Deathsmiles (Xbox 360) review

"Instead, you control underage goth girls with magical powers, tasked with stopping a demonic invasion on the verge of All-Hallows-Eve, ignited by a man obsessed with creating a portal back to the real world. Ye... it's not as creepy as it sounds."

It's really hard to describe Deathsmiles without making it sound like the thousands of shoot-em-ups already in existence; the game is a horizontal Cave manic shooter where purple projectiles flood the screen at any given moment, has different fighters with varying attack patterns to choose from, accompanied by tiny back-up helpers, bomb attacks that blanket the play field, obliterating bullets, and a special power that can be unleashed after accumulating 1000 items. Nowadays, it's rare to see a truly unique take on the genre's basic formula, and whenever it does occur, it's met with mixed reactions. But that doesn't mean things have gotten boring, because we're still treated to outlandish scenarios with imaginative foes, set against interesting worlds. That's to say, if the developers can be creative, and do it in a solid shoot-em-up.

Deathsmiles does this, and does so without resorting to using super-powered spaceships on the brink of saving the entire galaxy. Instead, you control underage goth girls with magical powers, tasked with stopping a demonic invasion on the verge of All-Hallows-Eve, ignited by a man obsessed with creating a portal back to the real world. Ye... it's not as creepy as it sounds. The girls will be pitted against formations of flying, one-eyed ghouls, dragons, giant spiders, grim reapers, and other wicked beings in a world based on early 20th century Europe. I'll take the manual's word on this, since there's only two actual levels, a town and a castle, that resemble such a setting. The rest take place in swamps, graveyards, and volcanoes. A few oddities are mixed with the creepy bunch, like pig chefs, floating swamp islands, a huge face strapped to the ground, and a towering, ticked cow which gives chase while juggling cubes. Deathsmiles definitely gets things done when it comes to standing out from the recycled crowd, at least with looks.

Particular to this Xbox 360 edition is the plethora of ways you can fiddle with the game; there's the original arcade version that forces you to play on harder difficulties as progress is made, the Xbox 360 mode which furnished some graphics and allows for any difficulty setting throughout, and Ver 1.1, a mode that rearranges certain aspects to give the game a somewhat fresh approach, as well as gaining control of your back-up fighter's movements. You even get Mega Black Label renditions of these modes, an edition of Deathsmiles that added a new playable character and an extra stage. And if you're feeling ballsy, there's the included Level 999 difficulty setting, which makes enemies fling a gauntlet of projectiles when they're destroyed. Other such assortments are Leaderboards, saved replays, and even online co-op. I shouldn't even have to tell you that, for a shoot-em-up product, this is as jam-packed as it can get.

I have to warn, though, as solid as this release is, unless you're a huge fan of these type of bullet hell titles, you can only replay the 30/40-ish minute adventure so many times with different methods before growing weary. On a weekend, no less. Again, the main "issue" is that Deathsmiles brings absolutely nothing new to the table, providing an experience that's been experienced many, many times in the past. And again, there's nothing wrong with that, long as it's not a broken glitch-fest, which this game successfully avoids. Know what you're getting into, and Deathsmiles will deliver in that aspect, especially if you buy the cheaper edition without that giant box that comes with the customized faceplate. That, and prepare to show how manly you are by controlling Lolicon-Goths!

Not as creepy as it sounds! .... is what I keep telling myself.


pickhut's avatar
Community review by pickhut (October 29, 2011)

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