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The Weekly WTF: ‘Deathsmiles’ and its Crazy-Ass Halloweentastic

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chris-littlechild - November 7, 2014

If you've managed to briefly sober up in the last week or so, you'll have noticed such trifles as the ‘days of the week' and the ‘date.' None of this BS matters much, but it does bear mentioning that Halloween has just passed.

And you know what Halloween means. Halloween specials, that's what. Here's one of our own, fashionably late. But hey, it works for reruns of The Simpsons. Those bastards show their Treehouse of Horror episodes in mid-July and ignore October 31 entirely. So hold on to your asses, here comes a Weekly WTF that's creeptacular in more ways than one.

Deathsmiles is probably a little obscure. It's a macabre, witchy, demon-y, bullet hell shooter, from genre masters Cave. It first hit Japanese arcades in 2007, before finally hauling its ass onto Xbox 360s worldwide in 2011. Because clearly, a slice of batshit crazy of this caliber cannot and will not be stopped. Let's take a look.

The plot is your standard WTF fare. You know how it is: you're a tiny witch named Sakura. On Halloween night, your creepy-ass sorcerer dad (Jitterbug) opens a big ol' portal to hell, and invites every slavering deathly death-beast to pass through and chew on the citizens' ‘nads. Well, of course. We've all been there.

Yup, this boss is a big effin' cow. What of it?

Not being an asshole like your pa, you have mixed feelings about the whole situation. But fear not, because a band of fellow witchly do-gooders is on the case.

At its heart, Deathsmiles is fairly conventional. You fly from left to right, mangling your many, many opponents as an epilepsy-inducing shitstorm of colorful light effects goes off everywhere. When they say ‘bullet hell,' they aren't kidding. Along the way, there are some fancy tricks you can perform to bolster your score and keep your damn self alive.

But something happens when you exchange your future-tastic spaceship for a broomstick. And your generic space-y enemies for furious chef-pigs brandishing butcher knives. If there's one thing Deathsmiles has an eye for, it's inexplicable enemy design. A fatass cyclops thing in a waistcoat? I was not prepared for that.

In short, Deathsmiles is a deft blend of genre conventions and a unique spirit all its own. Case in point: just when you think you've whupped the final boss, it'll be eaten by the demonic zombie skeleton of a T. Rex, which then attacks your ass as well. Just so you know what you're dealing with here.

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