Casey Scheld ReviewsGame ReviewsPC Reviews

Deathsmiles I・II Review

Official Score

Overall - 65%


The titles found in Deathsmiles I・II are still some of Cave’s finest, but this slapdash port is a disservice. Between its rampant slowdown and its steep price tag, this collection is only suited for the most diehard of shmup fans.

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Cave’s infamous Angels hit the skies once more with the Steam release of CITY CONNECTION and ZERODIV’s Deathsmiles I・II. Gothic horror, frenzied arcade action, and adorable characters await – should players gear up for some shmup action?

Deathsmiles I・II Review

Set in an alternate reality where monsters roam the land, players will take control of Angels packing fire, wind, death, spirit, and even dream energy through each title. The goal of this shoot-em-up is still the same – kill or be killed – but the mechanics of these score chasers make them one of the more unique series on the market today.

For one, players can shoot from the left or the right, meaning that players will have to keep an eye on all parts of the screen at any given time. Needless to say, this makes things fairly chaotic – especially with a giant cow that wants you dead. There are a few tools at your disposal – one can increase the power of their shot by holding down the fire button, but this slows you down. A Summons Bomb can also clear out the bullets at any given time and cause massive damage, and targeting magic goes after the nearest enemies.

Rather, the biggest ace in the hole (and key hook) of Deathsmiles I・II is its Power Up mode. Collecting items from dropped enemies increases a counter for each of the girls, which maxes out at 1,000. Get to that point, and one can enter a powered up mode where they can pass through bullets, dish out more damage, and go for a higher score. Play your cards right, and you can stay in this state for a good while.

This encourages two things in Deathsmiles I・II – offensive play and speedy play. It’s important to grab the items dropped by enemies before they disappear into the ether, meaning that players need to be on their foes like white on rice. This also means that once players are in this state with a counter rapidly moving to zero, they need to think fast and keep a cool head. It’s a fun dynamic that sets the titles in this collection apart.

This collection features the original Deathsmiles and Deathsmiles IIX Merry Christmas in Hell, each of which featuring a similar structure. These titles have been released separately in the past, and while there are some additional modes, it’s still a barebones package that does not reach the heights of the recent Capcom Fighting Collection or even Sonic Origins. While it’s nice that one can choose between Arcade, Normal, and Ver. 1.1 for the original and Arcade, IIX, and Arrange for the sequel, it just doesn’t feel like enough.

If anything, this collection could have used some improvements. Slowdown plagues all titles in this collection like a nasty virus, serving as an unnecessary handicap. The original Deathsmiles was released in 2007; there’s no excuse at this point.

The titles found in Deathsmiles I・II are still some of Cave’s finest, but this slapdash port is a disservice. Between its rampant slowdown and its steep price tag, this collection is only suited for the most diehard of shmup fans.

This review of Deathsmiles I・II was done on the PC. The game was purchased digitally.
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Casey Scheld

Drawn to the underground side of gaming, Casey helps the lesser known heroes of video games. If you’ve never heard of it, he’s mastered it.
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