Reviews: Deathsmiles

Deathsmiles for X-box 360

Deathsmiles is a 2-D shooting game which started on the arcade and was later ported to the X-box 360 and iOS. The iOS version was reviewed earlier, and now I've got my hands on the X-box 360 version.

  • Excellent visual intensity and detailed 2-D graphics
  • So far (April 2012) this is the only version of Deathsmiles that has the Black Label mode, with Sakura as a playable character and the Crystal Palace bonus stage. (the arcade got a Black Label version but only 150 units were ever made). Sakura is a joy to play and the Crystal Palace stage is one of the most difficult and intense levels ever designed by Cave ever in the history of all Cave shooting games.
  • This version probably has the best sound and music quality of all the versions released so far.

  • The theme of the game, especially the front cover and the image on the disc, may be off-putting to some people.
  • All of the modes available in this version are essentially about getting a high score without dying. If you only liked the iOS port for its iPhone mode then you will not find a lot of replay value here.
  • It does not have the special arrange soundtrack from the iOS port, since the X-box 360 version was created long before the iOS version.

Deathsmiles iPhone

Deathsmiles is a 2-D shooting game about shooting enemies, collecting goodies, and avoiding getting hit. It distinguishes itself from the rest in a number of ways, such as being focused on a Halloweentown and dark gothic aesthetic, having Elegant Gothic Lolita characters with detailed costumes and realistic body proportions, and being much more story-focused and character-driven than most other games in the genre.

  • The artwork for Arcade mode is by "Joker" Junya Inoue, and is not very anime-esque despite being focused on Elegant Gothic Lolita girls. Instead, it brings across a slight hint of realism, and a lot of darkness, horror, depth, and gothic atmosphere.
  • The iPhone gameplay mode has tons of replay value. You could spend multiple days collecting everything that there is to get and completing the jigsaw puzzle.
  • RPGElements for those who really like them, in the form of equipment that increases certain stats. Mastery of them is not strictly required to beat the game on Easy and Normal, though.
  • Arcade mode has a soundtrack by Manabu Namiki and other Basiscape co-workers, with a good range from dark swampy horror to hard-thumping techno-rock fusion to fast-paced techno to classical waltz. iPhone mode has a completely new soundtrack that really taps into the whole Halloweentown aesthetic and is quite good in its own right.

  • Lots of paid downloadable content. It is not required to beat the game on Hard difficulty, though.
  • The Arcade mode only has the original Arcade content, and lacks Black Label or a playable Sakura.
  • Depending on your setup, your own finger may get in the way of visibility.
  • Some of the visuals might be considered NSFW or at the very least not-safe-for-spouse.

Deathsmiles IIX downloadable

Deathsmiles IIX is a shooting game about Elegant Gothic Lolita girls saving the day. It is in 3-D, but its gameplay is mostly focused on 2-D plus a lock-on shot for attacking enemies who are not in the main plane. Simply playing the game just to see all the endings already takes plenty of gameplay hours, nevermind the multiplying factor of also trying to get high scores with every character without getting hit.

  • Visual variety in the stages, enemies, bullet shapes, and on and on. Despite being a 3-D game, the enemy bullets are 2-D, so they are still bright and easy to see like in all other CAVE games.
  • Plenty of gameplay modes, including one that is easy for casual players to figure out, as well as plenty of possible adjustments within these modes.
  • Each character plays so differently that it is almost like playing entirely different games.
  • Full voice acting for all of the modes except for Arcade mode, a rarity for 2-D shooting games.
  • Interesting and varied soundtrack by Manabu Namiki and other Basiscape co-workers

  • This is one of CAVE's first attempts at a 3-D game. If you are one of those people who needs Real Is Brown, HDR & bloom effects, bump-mapping, dynamic shadows, and so on, this game is not for you. It is focused entirely on the gameplay.
  • This game can only be downloaded through the Microsoft Marketplace, which means that it requires either doing business with Microsoft directly or buying Microsoft Points.
  • It is completely untranslated.
  • Unlike the first game, the artwork is totally anime-esque and stereotypical in many ways. There is no longer a feeling of horror, darkness, depth, or shadows.
  • The lock-on shot is now much more important, but the default game mode keeps it working like in the first game, thus making it more difficult to control when you go into power-up mode.
  • Sakura is not playable