Thursday, August 19, 2010

Deathsmiles | Review

Synopsis: Cave, one of the biggest names for shmup or bullethell titles has released a new entry for their fans, Deathsmiles. Those new to the term shmup are most likely familiar with the genre and have played their fair share of these whether killing time in an arcade or devoting hours into getting the high score or playing cooperatively. Deathsmiles takes you to the world of Gilverado, a land full of monsters and tortured souls, while your role of course is to rid the land of the baddies with one of five available gothic Lolitas, each with their own unique abilities and demon familiars. Aside from the single player gameplay, players are able to save, playback, and download the top 20 scoring runs from the leaderboards, along with online coop to see how you rank with players worldwide through Xbox Live.

Praise: There are a few things a shmup needs in order for me to have a lot of fun with, mainly bright crisp looking environments, lots of bullets and enormous boss fights. Cave has delivered these prerequisites and then some. Gameplay is very fluid with the occasional slowdown, which some would see as a bad thing, but in these kinds of titles I see it as a blessing in disguise as the slowdown often times helps keep me from dying. A new feature to this shoot em up is the shooting mechanics, where you shoot left with the left trigger and right with the right trigger, requiring a new strategy from the gameplay I’m used to. Mega Black Label seems to be an additional game mode on the disk that includes an additional character and level to add to the replay value. Lastly, you WILL get a handful of achievements from this game as they seem to be thrown at you left and right.

Gripes: First and foremost, this would be a great game to play online coop, the problem is, there doesn’t seem to be anyone playing this game online any longer. I have tried multiple times on multiple days and waiting 5-10 minutes each time for someone to join me, but nothing. The three graphical modes, from arcade to Xbox 360 are a nice variety, but after playing on Xbox mode, I had no intention of going back to play the others as it looks visually better. Other than that, my only complaint is the length of the game as it takes about 30 minutes to play through all the levels and complete the story mode, making it harder to justify the full retail price as opposed to the Xbox Live Arcade game prices as it feels as if it is the same size, if not smaller than the downloadable arcade titles.

Overall, as a fan of shmups, I enjoyed this title playing in one hour increments for about a week. Without being able to find anyone else online, it does reduce the amount of replay value to continuously playing; however couch coop would be a lot of fun if I had others in the house into these types of games. The nice part about this release is that the limited edition includes swag, consisting of Deathsmiles Xbox 360 faceplate, CD soundtrack and special box art. Unfortunately, for the price I would like to have more content to keep me engaged, but is a blast to go back and play for a half hour or so to work your way up the leaderboards. gives Deathsmiles a 7 out of 10.

Deathsmiles is available now for the Xbox 360.

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