Today I will be looking at the newest shooting game released for the Xbox 360, Deathsmiles. This title was developed by Cave, makers of other shooting (or shmup) hits such as DoDonpachi and Ketsui. The game falls in the shooting genre of "bullet hell", as the enemy can be relentless in releasing bullets, sometimes having thousands on the screen at one time making it hell for the player to dodge. As far as the "bullet hell" shmup's diificulty, Deathsmiles isn't as intense as some of Cave's other titles; but it is no cake walk either.
The game involves the story of several young women transported to another world filled with magical creatures. They receive new powers and go on an adventure to find the portal to return home. The game's theme follows the Japanese fashion of Gothic Lolita. It seems to represent a vampire-like post renaissance attire, and if you notice the young heroines are dressed in this manner. This theme also carries over into the game as the levels have a Halloween like setting; and some levels have an almost "Castlevania-esque" music to them.
Deathsmiles was ported from an arcade release; but the Xbox offers several updates. First and foremost the Xbox mode allows players to play the game with HD graphics. This is more noticeable when compared to the original and 1.1 versions of the game also included on the disc. Overall the graphics are pretty awesome, especially for a shooting game. Other updates include full-voice acting(Japanese only) and Achievements for tasks such as beating bosses or the always evil "beat the game on one credit."
The levels in the game range from volcanic caverns to 17th century ballrooms (complete with masquerade ball dancers attacking you!) Bosses also vary from cool to insane. One stage you battle dragons, and another you battle a giant cow will telepathic powers. One let down is the length of the stages, they are over far too soon.
The soundtrack is really great. Gothic tunes, and upbeat techno music carries you through the levels. I haven't liked a soundtrack this much in a long time...definately worth picking up the special edition of this game since it is thrown in. The sound effects are also notably cool, especially the explosions.
The big draw of these sort of games is the scoring system, and Deathsmiles doesn't disappoint. Three difficulty levels exists for the first few levels of the game, and then an unforgiving difficulty is applied to the extra stage and final stage. One cool ability is the downloadable replays via Xbox Live. Watch experts get massive scores, and learn their techniques.
It is unfortunate this game was only released in Japan, as it is a high quality game. It is pretty funny we get utter shit released in the US like Face Breakers boxing but no great shmups. If you have the money, invest an import Xbox 360, as it seems to be this generation's shmup haven. I hope Atlus or Xseed grab this gem up before its too late.
- An update to the game will be released soon for DLC. It will include a new playable character, a new stage, and a super difficulty for shooting game veterans.
- The game sold 20,000 in it's first week in Japan. It is the highest amount for a bullet hell title yet!
- A recent sequel has been released in arcades with a Christmas theme.