In the game, Prince Myer, on the eve of his coronation, is informed that a wizard named Rubas plans to overthrow Myer's kingdom by summoning an army of demons with seven magic bells. To ensure that his kingdom stays peaceful, Myer is charged with traveling to Rubas' castle, burning down the seven bells and destroying the bell tower, before ultimately confronting Rubas himself.
The game has a notoriously obtuse navigational structure, as to proceed through the game, you will sometimes find yourself entering rooms with no clearly marked entry or exit point. In addition, the rooms in some of the dungeons look the same, with only a difference in color palette setting them apart.
This game was reviewed by The Angry Video Game Nerd in Episode 54 of his series.
Deadly Towers uses the following tropes:
- American Kirby Is Hardcore: Compare the Japanese Famicom box art above to the ripped, manly Prince Myer on the American box art.
- Another Dimension: The dungeons and "Parallel Zones", which are the most annoying thing about the game in that just walking on the wrong floor tile instantly sends you to them, typically far from the exit. Just look at how big the very first one is. Note specifically that the entrance and exit are on opposite sides.
- Blob Monster: Blue Blobs are one of the first enemies encountered. One type is round, fairly durable and bounces around. Another type is weaker and follows the player around.
- Blue Is Heroic: Prince Meyer is the hero protagonist and wears blue armor.
- Bottomless Pits: If you get knocked off a clearly-marked ledge by anything, you'll die instantly.
- Classic Cheat Code: Of a sort. The password system stores Myer's equipment values in the first two characters, so swapping any password's intro characters with FE or EF would resume your progress with endgame-level gear. You can intentionally die on the first screen to abuse this from the get-go.
- Depth Perplexion: A consequence of the Isometric Projection, hitboxes surrounding entire sprites and some sprites being taller than they are wide (including the player's).
- Diagonal Speed Boost: Played straight in the first place, but there is also an item (called the Hyper Shoes) that increases your move speed... but only if you're moving diagonally.
- Early Game Hell: Myer starts with horrible offense and defense and there's no indication of where to go to even find better equipment. The early game also forces the player through a gauntlet of room-to-room combat in cramped quarters against numerous enemies with downright unfair spawn points. Once you reach the titular towers, the game actually gets notably more manageable, with fewer and more spaced out enemies that often can easily be defeated with ranged weapons, and even the bosses aren't too challenging.
- Fake Difficulty: An obtuse navigational design combined with wonky knockback mechanics make this game much harder than it should be.
- Fictional Currency: Ludder is used as currency.
- Fireballs: Balls of fire emerge from the bottom of the screen. Some of the enemies also attack with fireballs.
- Graphics-Induced Super-Deformed: Player's body proportions are more realistic on the cartridge cover than in the game.
- Guide Dang It!: The lack of an in-game mapping system is incredibly cruel, especially since there are entrances that lead to other rooms in another part of the dungeon, some of which are invisible.
- Knockback: When enemies damage Myer, he's pushed a considerable distance in the direction opposite his heading. In a game which also features Bottomless Pits, this will likely be what kills you outside the dungeons and parallel zones.
- Mercy Invincibility: It's there, but it's so short that it actually wears off BEFORE damage knockback. It's possible to get knocked around and chip-damaged to death by many a Goddamned Bat.
- Nintendo Hard: It's infamous as one of the hardest games on the NES.
- One Bullet at a Time: Possible to avert with two powerups — one that lets you throw a second sword after the first, and one that lets you throw two simultaneously.
- Opening Scroll: One of the longest ones in video game history.
- Password Save: Infamously, there is a timer for it, and you have to input it before it runs out.
- Permanently Missable Content: The towers permanently seal off after you defeat their bosses and retrieve the bells, so any items hidden in their secret rooms and parallel zones are gone for good if you don't get them before completing them.
- Respawning Enemies: When you enter and leave a room, the enemies will be right at the same positions they were when you first entered it. This can lead to an unfortunate situation in one instance when you can accidentally reenter a room on top of a dragon. And since there's no Mercy Invincibility...
- Sequel Hook: The ending alludes to the return of evil to the kingdom in 1000 years during the Iron Age. The credits end with "See you next time!"
- Throwing Your Sword Always Works: Myer's main method of attack is to lob his sword at foes. However, he can't stab with it, which leaves him defenseless until the sword he's already thrown hits something. Even the manual says that "you have no confidence in this sword."
- Treasure Is Bigger in Fiction: However, due to protagonist's Hyperspace Arsenal, lots of ludder coins can be carried around despite them being very large.
- Trial-and-Error Gameplay: Several items give no indication of whether they are working or not; this is especially bad with any that are not potions, and the red necklace's purpose is still unknown to this day. Also, the game never tells you that you need a complete set of helmet, armor and shield in order to get any appreciable effect on your defense.
- Useless Useful Spell:
- The green crystal freezes all enemies in their tracks, but also leaves you unable to attack.
- The red scroll destroys every enemy in a room, but only in dungeons.
- The magic key prevents two knights from blocking a single doorway in the castle, one you never even need to pass through.
- Videogame Cruelty Punishment: Kill the prisoners in the tower? You lose all your ludder.
- With This Herring: Despite being a prince, Myers goes into Rubas's demon-infested castle with only a short sword, no shield, no items, and what appears to be crappy leather armor. To add insult to injury, the sword isn't even good (as noted above, even Myers himself has no confidence in it). He at least has the sense to bring 50 ludder coins.