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4.5 out of 5 stars33
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39 of 42 people found the following review helpful
on June 29, 2010
I can't stress enough how excellent this game is(provided you like the genre). Cave has long been known as one of the kings of bullet hell type games, but this is surprisingly the first Cave game to be localized for a US release on a console. The only other I know of to get on shore at all is Espgaluda II, which was released on iPhone and is also an excellent port.


There are basically 6 different versions of the game. They are split up into the original arcade port, a version 1.1 arrange version and an xbox 360 specific version. There are 2 versions of each of those, the normal and the MBL(mega black label) version. MBL versions are a special edition of sorts. In that version there is 1 extra character playable and 1 extra level.

Anyway, you are presented with a choice of 4 different girls to play and you play through an other world where you are attacked by monsters and spirits typical of a Halloween setting. You will fight flying pumpkins, ghosts, goblins and Death himself. As you progress farther the difficulty increases and you eventually reach the your goal. Don't worry about whether or not you'll make it here. There are different difficulty levels selectable per level, and you can continue after deaths. Difficulty levels range from a relative easy to blisteringly hard so you can suit that to your own tastes. There's even a "Level 999" option if you really want to hurt yourself.

As far as controls go, they are spot on. You'll never feel like you're fighting the game to do what you want. Everything is fluid and solid.

Finally, there are several nice extra features. You get online leaderboards, a score attack mode, replay saving so you can watch how you did and a practice mode for attacking a specific level until you get it right.

I really can't recommend this title enough if you enjoy these types of games. We don't often even see bullet hell shooters on US soil. It would be a shame to pass up one of the best ones.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on September 27, 2010
If you grew up playing old school 2D shoot 'em ups like I did and hate to see that Japan is getting all the new old school games then you'll be happy with this U.S. release of Deathsmiles. It features side scrolling 2D action with very tight controls. Designed by Cave, modern "bullet hell" masters. This game even on harder settings didn't feel too difficult. You'll want to play through the various game types more than once - which is needed if you want to unlock the various Achievements. The bonus soundtrack and faceplate is a nice touch since this limited edition retails for less than more new releases.
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on July 13, 2010
First off, Im not going to "whine" about the graphics- Theyre sprite based which i like anyway, and it seems for some reason nowadays the kiddies only like shiny polygons and dismiss 2d graphics.

This game isnt about shiny graphics anyway, its about GAMEPLAY.

Let me first say that Im a big fan of shmups. The original R-Type is still my favorite shooter to play,(although Gradius V comes super close) along with UN Squadron, Lifeforce, Thunderforce series, Raiden I, II and IV, and 1943/45/xx to name a few. I tend to prefer horizontal shooters to vertical ones and Im glad CAVE chose to port Deathsmiles to usa, being as its a horizontal shooter.

There's a ton of different modes available, and the achievements are what really keep me coming back for more, simply because there's some to cater to the more novice player, and others which cater to the hardcore players. Beating the game with each character (4 total)+plus picking where they go after the game is over adds replay value. On top of that each character isnt a copy/paste job-they each have slightly different speeds and have different shooting patterns. And although there are unlimited continues, there's achievements for each character that challenges you to beat the game without continuing-on any difficuly level, (1,2,or 3). I have to say, beating the game with Rosa without continuing felt very rewarding in itself.

Arcade mode has the original graphics which look a bit rough since its a direct port which is fine. On the other hand, Xbox 360 mode looks great on my 42 inch lcd tv- and i have it stretched to 16:9 and i have no issues with the look of the game at all. So far Ive probably put about 5 hours of playtime in to the game on Xbox 360 mode alone and have yet to play the Mega Black Label and the Arranged Version, so theres still a lot of game left to enjoy. Online co-op is a nice touch as well, and being able to save your own replays plus save replays from top players on the leaderboards acts as a built in guide to see when and where to use your powered up shots and so forth.

You get 3 bombs per life, and as you kill enemies you get skulls, if you let them hit the ground then pick them up, theyre worth more to add to the total. Get 1000 total and you get to activate a short "power up" mode which makes your shots more powerful and cover a wider area for a short amount of time. Combine this with a point multiplier and it makes it feel rewarding when you find the perfect spot in each level that was designed for this, which maximizes your points and gets you closer to earning an extra 1-up and boast a higher score on the leaderboards- a nice touch. :)

One thing i just dont get is the whole underage lolita thing thats taken over the shmup genre. Its strange how the genre went from spaceships to underage girls shooting stuff, but whatever, a shmup is a shmup i guess. :)

And one more thing-Who cares if its short? Since when does a game have to be X number of hours to be fun? Mega Man 2 can be beat in 45 minutes, and ive beat that game probably 100 times and still enjoy playing it to this day because its FUN...Deathsmiles is the exact same way. If youre a shmup fan, would you really want to play a 10+ hour shmup? I sure wouldnt!!

All in all to me, its well worth the $50. Its a refreshing break from the constant onslaught on FPS games that come out week after week. The extra stuff is nice, but all i care about is the game so i consider that a bonus item. If you enjoy horizontal shmups like i do, do yourself a favor and pick this game up. We need more games like this here in the states and not just Japan.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on July 4, 2010
This game is fantastic. CAVE, the Japanese company known for their manic shooters, released their first U.S. game ever, Deathsmiles. Deathsmiles was released in Japan in April of 2009, but U.S. gamers without an imported Japanese Xbox were not able to play it. Luckily, Aksys Games released it here for everyone to enjoy. The game itself is instantly addictive, devilishly difficult and incredibly addictive. The crisp, colorful 2D graphics shine through the waves of bullets and enemies and even with hundreds of bullets on screen, everything is easily visible and highly detailed. The music matches the feeling and mood of each level, from pumping metal to eerie classical. The game's dark lolita theme is brilliantly captured by CAVE...each level has its own life and personality. The gameplay is where the game really shines. This is CAVE's second horizontal shooter (the other being an arcade game from the 90's--Progear) but they have really shown their versatility with it. The character can shoot both left and right. Enemies attack from both sides of the screen, a formula that is very unique and very entertaining. It's the kind of game you can play in an hour but spend a lifetime perfecting. Highly recommended for any shooter fans, vertical or horizontal.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on July 7, 2010
This game is absolutely fantastic and if you are at all a fan of action arcade games and/or 2d art and sprites then you should own this. This was originally an arcade title, and that mode is faithfully ported here. In addition the redid all the original arcade lo-res sprites in high res (like Guilty Gear, Odin Sphere, or Muramasa) for the xbox 360 mode. Then they add an arrange mode that changes the gameplay and on top of that there is the mega black label mode which adds another character, stage, and new mechanics and harder difficulty). The scoring mechanics are complex and mastering this game on the hardest difficulty settings will take a long time. The art is wonderful and imaginative and some of the bosses look amazing, especially in the xbox 360 mode. Some may complain that there are unlimited continues and a single play through the game is less than an hour, but those people miss the point. You play this because it is fun and because it is fun to improve your skills, which can take a very long time and remain fun the entire time.

I have loved shmups since the sega master system and genesis days and I have continued to follow them through today and I can confidently state that we are extremely lucky to get this in the US. In Japan it was closer to $70 on release and the mega black label mode that is included on the us disc was dlc content in Japan costing around 1200 microsoft points. I single run through of this game may be short, but it was designed to be played hundreds of times. I hope you can appreciate these comments and please keep supporting great shmups!
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on January 19, 2011
Deathsmiles is a shoot 'em up arcade game from Japan that has been ported to Xbox 360. The basic premise is very simple: you choose one of four "angels" who fly around, dodge bullets, and use magic to destroy a variety of Halloween-themed monsters. Single player and co-op modes are available.

The game is suitable for players of all skill levels due to selectable difficulty before most stages and unlimited continues. Deathsmiles is short, taking about 25-40 minutes from beginning to end, but it also has high replay value due to the variety of characters, game modes, and difficulty settings available. Plus you can try unlocking the achievements, beating the game without continuing, and climbing the online leaderboards.

The hand-drawn artwork and soundtrack are quite enjoyable, the controls are very responsive and precise, and the game is pure joy to play. Don't miss out!

Also, for arcade purists, Cave and Aksys are working on a patch that will make the game's deliberate slowdown (during hectic sections) more closely mimic the original arcade game.
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on November 30, 2013
The game is great and the bonus sound track + faceplate are pretty sweet extras. Really good shmup with a great art style.

On another note the limited edition box is somewhat flimsy and can easily be crushed. Amazon packaged mine with 3 other larger/heavier items I had purchased the same day without using any protection :P. End result the box looks like its been stepped on pretty disappointed. Hopefully my other orders are packaged better.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on July 25, 2010
Excellent game. Cave has outdone themselves yet again.

Deathsmiles is an excellent port of the arcade game, but it also includes the Mega Black Label DLC already on the disk. This means that you get 6 game versions on one disk.

Hopefully Aksys releases more of Cave's games in the future!
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on July 21, 2010
There are probably two types of people reading this review: Die-hard shooter fans, and non-shooter fans wondering what the hubbub is all about. Let's address the former.

Deathsmiles is a legendary shooter from japan, from legendary shooter developer Cave. It puts a million bullets up on screen, then gives you all of the tools to survive. The game thrives on giving the player hugely tense, frightening moments, and making them feel like a rockstar for surviving. That's what's here. There isn't aren't RPG stats building, or minigames, or anything more than shambles of a plot. There is a lot of looking like you're going to die, then coming through by the skin of your teeth because you, sir, are one amazing individual. Cave went well out of their way to make the gameplay of Deathsmiles new player friendly, while still making it feel amazingly tense.

But dear non-shooter fans, be aware that this is an indie event. The foreground characters have been upgraded to HD, but the backgrounds still have their original pixellated art. A straight playthrough of the game is relatively short: about 1 hour. And there are way too many options: The original 3 japanese disk modes and 3 japanese download modes start before you even get into the game, with 5 characters and 3-4 per-level difficulty levels. You'll probably want to increase the screen size when you start playing, etc. Just knowing where to start can be a bit of a hassle ( I suggest Xbox 360 mode ). These can be nice, like the ability to change difficult level between levels, but the sheer volume of options can be overwhelming.

Yes, hardcore shooter fans, all of that applies to you too. The game is short enough to encourage replay after replay in search of perfection. There are 6 different modes with 5 different characters to fit your play style perfectly. And while difficulty 999 is not the hardest thing I've ever played, it is just a stunning wall of danger to enjoy. The levels are original. The difficulty scaling feels organic. The gameplay twists are sufficient to create an original feel. This is the event you've been waiting for.

Cave proves once again that they are the masters of bullet hell games, with this their first North American release. If you consider yourself a shooter fan at all, you have to play this game now. If you're still curious about the genre, I recommend Deathsmiles as your introduction. And if you haven't been grabbed so far, there are other great games recently that might be a better fit. Getting Deathsmiles in the US is like buying a rare and expensive print of an Andy Warhol film: Some people will think it is the event of their lives. Some people will wonder what they just spent their money on. Nobody, really, will be inbetween.
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on December 6, 2013
This game is very short, but super fun and has a high replayibility factor. I was not able to test the online multiplayer, which seems pretty dead. This is an Xbox 360 port of a popular Japanese arcade game. While the faceplate is charming, it is useless for anyone who does not have an original model Xbox 360. It's also hit or miss if the faceplate you get fits snugly on the front of your console. Remember to take the old faceplate off if you have an original Xbox 360 and plan to use it.

There's 5 playable characters who all have their own unique fighting styles, and you fight through 6 stages in any order you want until you go to the last and final stage. In some game modes there's an extra stage that is very difficult. The highest difficulty of the game introduces bullets that explode from destroyed monsters that you need to eat with each character's given familiar, which acts like an "option" for those in tune with shmup lingo.
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