Deathsmiles is CAVE's bullet-hell shoot-'em-up where you take the role of one of five Angels to defend the magical land of Gilverado from an invasion by Hell itself! Eradicate this devilish assault!
User reviews:
Overall:
Very Positive (144 reviews) - 97% of the 144 user reviews for this game are positive.
Release Date: Mar 10, 2016

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June 9

Calling all shmup fans: Score Challenge starts today!

Shmups Skill Test Launch Week Challenge!
Think your Shmups Skills are up to the task? Grab Triangle Service's
Shmups Skill test and join in with the Launch Week Challenges!

Details here:
steamcommunity.com/games/430290/announcements/detail/950637823028983312

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April 28

It’s the Anime Weekend Sale, and Deathsmiles is part of the fun!

Degica is happy to be a part of Steam’s Anime Weekend Sale and with that comes terrific deals on some of our most popular titles!

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Grapple your way through branching surreal environments and hook giant fish in the quirky platformer Umihara Kawase!

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Or experience the first Japanese RPG Maker game to be fully translated and made available on Steam, Hero & Daughter+!

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Hot off of PAX East, there's still a few days left in our Legendary Loot Giveaway and to celebrate the Anime Weekend Sale, we've added a bunch more ways to win!

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Reviews

“...a cause for celebration... will still put a smile on any shooter fan’s face.”
8.7/10 – GAMERamble

“Deathsmiles manages to hit the perfect difficulty level so that both newcomers and old hats at the genre will find the challenge level they desire.”
8.2/10 – GamersFTW

“Deathsmiles has an awesome combination of arcade-y controls and mechanics along with a easy-to-pick up hard-to-master scoring system... Overall, the title is a must-buy for shumps fans.”
10/10 – Subaltern Gaming

Deathsmiles RPG Maker assets

To celebrate the release of Deathsmiles, Degica is pleased to announce that official RPG Maker assets based on Deathsmiles are now available for purchase!

RPG Maker MV version
store.steampowered.com/app/450480/

RPG Maker VX Ace version
store.steampowered.com/app/453160

About This Game

Deathsmiles is CAVE's bullet-hell shoot-'em-up where you take the role of one of five Angels to defend the magical land of Gilverado from an invasion by Hell itself! Team up with a friend, choose an angel, and eradicate this devilish assault across six different game modes!

Deathsmiles’s developer, CAVE Co., Ltd., is the powerhouse behind revered bullet-hell shooters such as Mushihimesama, DoDonPachi, Espgaluda, and many more!



  • Horizontally scrolling bullet-hell madness across six different game modes including Mega Black Label mode.
  • Spooky good fun! Battle ghosts, demons, man-eating plants, and even giant cattle in this gothic horror-themed adventure.
  • Five playable angels to choose from, each with her own faithful familiar.
  • Supports two-player local cooperative play. Banish the forces of Hell together!
  • Reap what you sow with the challenging and powerful Counter system.
  • Freely choose your path and difficulty with nonlinear progression between a variety of macabre stages.

System Requirements

    Minimum:
    • OS: Windows 7/8/8.1/10
    • Processor: Intel Core i3 2GHz or higher
    • Memory: 2 GB RAM
    • Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 5000, Geforce 9500GT, Radeon HD 3650 or better
    • DirectX: Version 9.0c
    • Storage: 3 GB available space
    • Sound Card: DirectSound-compatible sound card
Customer reviews
Customer Review system updated! Learn more
Overall:
Very Positive (144 reviews)
Recently Posted
SwordslingerIW
( 16.1 hrs on record )
Posted: July 16
If i'm being honest this game was well worth the 20 dollars, though i don't come back to it often i have Mushihimesama Futari on the xbox 360 though i don't play that often as well mainly for the reason that i can't participate in score attack anymore (My xbox 360 wireless adapter broke for some odd reason, i'm not sure i take good care of my things) Why i only play this every so often though is because for one it became a hassle to log into steam. I have beaten the game once with continues and have been trying too without for a little bit on the easiest setting, i'm relatively new to this genre and i still have a lot to learn, it's just if i have the motivation to learn it. The scoring system like all cave games takes a bit to get used too but it makes sense once you piece things together and the gameplay itself is a bit self explanatory, this gave has been very positive though i don't have much to say about the positives, it was more of an experience thing than something i can rather say.

Onto the negatives though, there are few but it doesn't really prevent the game from being enjoyable, achievements don't unlock, i was sent a forum by the developers and tried stuff with default settings and multiple game modes but i haven't had any luck with it, and one day when i was opening it and even today when i launched the game and it launched fine but whenever i did go into stuff like Mega Black Label or just a normal game the game would crash, reinstalling the game fixed this issue, the hassle with bringing a console game to PC sometimes isn't very smooth but as far as i'm concerned most of the bugs with the pc port have been worked out these are 2 where 1 isn't effecting me now and 1 still is.

Buy this one, well worth it.
Edit: Default settings with achievements may have been the issue but i had no idea they were mode dependent because it never said so in the descriptions haha.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
Big Anal Bead
( 2.0 hrs on record )
Posted: June 23
Smoke bowls, fight giant cow.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
ashram363
( 15.7 hrs on record )
Posted: June 15
An excellent port of one of the best shoot'em up released on the xbox360.
IMPORTANT:be sure to play the "Normal" or "Version 1.1" game modes to enjoy the game's impressive visuals in high definition.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
Daydreaming Uzume
( 2.7 hrs on record )
Posted: May 14
Deathsmiles... it feels like... an eye examination.
Basically, you're a girl on a horizontal shooter, and you can shoot in two directions, forward and backward. And yes, you can shoot backward. Why? Because enemies might actually show up behind you. Don't worry. Enemy indicators are present to let you know an enemy is behind you.
It looks simple at first, you shoot enemies on the front and on the back. But, the real eye examination begins when your enemies scatter bullets all over your screen and you have to dodge them all, or use a magic spell to eradicate the bullets (and enemies and certain destroyable objects). You have a tiny hitbox, so don't worry if your character might get a headshot. Worry about that hitbox where you'll actually take damage if a bullet strikes that hitbox!
This means your eyes are concentrated on both the left and right side, and all the bullets on screen. Luckily, with the bullets, the game will lag for you just so you can read and analyse and plan an escape from the stream of bullets. This is probably the only time lag is your best friend, so don't blame your graphics card for not maintaining 60FPS.
So, does this look easy? No. But you can still win this arcade game using a combination of good eyesight, quick response, and timing (for the magic spells). This, ladies and gentlemen, is pure bullet hell from famed bullet hell developer, Cave, and Deathsmiles proves to be very fun and challenging.
All you need, is focus.

Oh, and it also has amazing gothic art style and a rocking soundtrack. You can also have co-op, which is always nice to have on a shoot-em-up game.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
Tawhiri
( 0.3 hrs on record )
Posted: May 7
Must buy if you like danmaku games.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
xCROOKEDx
( 2.1 hrs on record )
Posted: May 1
Love it. Lots of fun, and able to be played in bite sized bursts.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
that one seinfeld episode
( 0.3 hrs on record )
Posted: April 19
this game is great, i know because I played it on 360 (lol wtf why did xbox have this game). i bought it just to show support for Cave honestly, they make great games but are ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥ in the business sense. hopefully this game being on Steam means they hired someone that can pull them into the 21st century. cmon cave just cart out the dodonpachis and the ketsuis i got my wallet ready
Helpful? Yes No Funny
KILLER Loli
( 2.9 hrs on record )
Posted: April 17
It's a difficult decision to either give Deathsmiles a 'Yes' or 'No' recommendation.
I'm giving it a 'Yes' vote, but there is some things to note about it.

First of all, Deathsmiles is a short game for its price. 6 Stages, no mid bosses, infinite continues and an almost inexistent story outside the game manual; which unfortunally we didn't get in the Steam version.
While the infinite continue can be a good thing if you are stuck in a level and don't want leave the game picking up dust forever in your library (hi Suguri, wish I could beat you)
It really shortens the game.
It is possible to beat the game within +/- 30 minutes for each character using the infinite continues.
And please do note that the only thing that will really change between characters it is... well... the character that you play + it's short dialogue. And I guess a new boss if you are playing with Sakura.

The graphics are not... good. But I don't mind they. It is a old game, to be honest, I find it a little charming. But that is probably nostalgia playing with me.

Now, the Art direction is excellent! I love the gothic style Deathsmille has! I really like every character design, especially the bosses, Casper and Windia.

The same can be said about it's soundtrack. The OST is very memorable and it will stuck in your head.

I really like the gameplay system. Nothing much to say about it other than 'it is very fun to play'

For it's full price, Deathsmilles suffers for its lack of in-game story, replay value and shortness.
The music and art style begs for you to buy it, but please be wary of the things that I have mentioned.
If you are going to play, be sure to check on the internet more about the story otherwise you will not know much about.

I recommend getting this if you don't mind self-imposing a limit of continues to your plays or get Deathsmilles in a promo!

Yet, a very enjoyable game.
Have fun.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
somebody336
( 6.3 hrs on record )
Posted: April 9
Deathsmiles is a horizontal Bullet Hell centered around five girls and their fight against evil. Right off the bat you are given 6 modes to choose from which all feature subtle tweaks to the gameplay. Normal mode allows you to pick which ever difficulty you want and Arcade mode only allows you to pick the easier levels a few times before forcing you to up the challenge. “Ver.1.1” is definitely a mode you'd want to avoid picking the first time around as it only gives you one bomb per health bar and causes enemies to fire yellow projectiles once they are defeated far more often. Mega Black Edition adds an extra fifth character called Sakura to the fray as well as one new optional level and an new harder, more insane difficulty called “Level 999” that will test even the most hardened bullet hell player's skills. It is quite an overwhelming number of modes to choose from the first time you play and they don't state what the differences are so I thought I'd dedicate a paragraph properly explaining them.

After you choose your mode of choice, the game will start up in a rather small screen that you can tweak to your liking in the options menu as well as change the border art. Depending on the mode you choose you are able to choose from either 4 characters or 5. They all have the same speed and health though what really separates them is how they shoot their projectiles and their unique familiars that accompany them throughout. Sakura fires in a narrow spear like formation and has two crow familiars that take quite a bit of skill to use correctly but allows you to fire at any angle. Follet fires in a wide helix like formation and has a dragon familiar that rains fire in a short but devastating stream while Rosa has a single giant stream that sparks a few extra projectiles toward the end of it and has a fairy companion that can shoot through any objects which is insanely useful. The other two have their own quirks too and none of them feel better than the other which really helps fuel the need to discover the ins and outs of all the cast.

One of Deathsmiles most unique features is the ability to choose in what order you take the first 6 missions on. You can play them in any order and if you are playing Arcade mode gives it a bit of strategy as it will not let you play all the levels on easy so choose wisely. After you finish the batch of 6 levels you are then given the option to head to either the last mission or the completely optional stage. Mega Black Label modes adds another optional level resulting in two optional stages if you are brave enough to face them. Those two optional levels do not have a difficulty mode you can set so these will be your demise if you are used to playing on easier difficulties. You don't receive anything for completing them other than a higher score at the end assuming you don't die so it may be best to skip them if you are attempting to run with no continues or a 1CC as Shmup fans call it. With 7 levels and two optional ones it will take you around 40 minutes to get through this.

The gameplay has a rather neat feature in which you can shoot to the left with one button or to the right with another. I really liked this unique mechanic as it keeps you from remaining stationary on the edges of the screen like so many other bullet hells. In Deathsmiles sticking in the middle is your best bet as enemies will swarm you from both sides of the screen which feels absolutely awesome as you lay waste to your foes and feel like the anime version of Neo from the Matrix. Unlike most other games of this genre you will not die from a single hit, instead you have a life bar with three sections. Taking a hit will cost you one section of the life bar while touching an enemy or a hazard will cost you half of a section. Losing an entire section will reset your bombs to max capacity though they do not stack so taking a hit while still having bombs left is incredibly wasteful. Bombs work like in any other game and they clear the screen of all projectiles and does heavy damage to your enemies.

You can increase your life bar to allow you to take more hits if you do well enough though it is a very difficult task and using a continue will reset it back to normal. Holding both firing buttons at the same time allows you to fire at any enemy in short range of your character which is less useful than simply firing in that direction. Where it becomes really useful is when facing bosses as getting in close and holding both buttons locks on to him meaning you can focus on just avoiding his attacks while doing consistent damage. As you defeat enemies they will drop items that both increase your score and fill up a number meter at the bottom left of the screen. Once you hit 500 or more in that meter and you press both attack buttons you will enter a “Power-up mode” where you cause more damage and receive much more points per kill.

In “Ver.1.1” entering this power-up mode becomes much riskier as killing an enemy while it's in effect guarantees that it shoots projectiles once it dies and your attack becomes much more flashier making it hard to keep track of where the projectiles are. It is a risky gamble while on death's door and you are hoping the extra points you get from it will get you a health item or a bomb. Holding the attack button slows you down and deals more damage but the amount it slows you down is so minimal you are unlikely to notice. The amount of continues you can use is unlimited so any one can get to the end of this title.One minor annoyance that remains from Cave's last Steam release called Mushihimesama is the lack of one overall option for your screen settings. That means you will have to tweak your preferred screen settings on each of the 6 modes which is a very slight annoyance yet a remaining problem of their ports.

Where Deathsmiles really messes up is on the story. It is pretty terrible and that is nothing new to the genre but there is too much of it here and no way to turn it off. It's pretty bothersome to mash a button to slightly speed up the cutscenes that were boring the first time around and it does reduce my will to keep on replaying it. Each character has slightly different things to say throughout the course of the game and each one also have one of two endings to choose from at the end. You know nothing about the characters which makes it hard to care but it's a cool feature nonetheless. A simple option to turn the story off would do wonders for those that have already seen all it has to offer or simply don't care. Graphics are do the job yet for some reason the characters are 3D models that have aged far worse than the 2D sprite work. The game also has objects like walls or cliffs that block you and forces you to make your way around it. I'm personally not a fan of stuff that impede your movement in bullet hell games but the real problem here is that you occasionally don't know if it's an actual object or just background scenery until you try flying through it. In a genre that requires split second timing second guessing yourself like this will likely spell your doom.

Enemies in this game range from minotaurs, cyclops and even tanks. It is a very cool and whacky mix of both reality and fantasy. Each level has a boss at the end waiting for you and they all fight quite differently. Bosses are far odder than regular enemies and your jaw will likely drop when you see one of them is a giant cow. All in all Deathsmiles is a fun Bullet Hell that tries many different things and succeeds on most of them. While the story is a pain to read through having 5 characters, multiple routes and many modes to choose from is more than enough reason to replay this game time and time again. It's not the best the genre or Cave has to offer but it is a unique enough experience to warrant a buy from any fan of Bullet Hells.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
Bechstein
( 3.5 hrs on record )
Posted: April 4
Horizontal fantasy ecchi shoot 'em up by CAVE with lots of projectiles and pretty colors. Underaged lesbian bikni models. In short, Deathsmiles is bonafide pedo bait. I don't want to go to jail. Please, just let me play Progear or Raiden II instead. Or mod this so I don't have to justify why it's in my Steam library.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
Most Helpful Reviews  Overall
147 of 172 people (85%) found this review helpful
2 people found this review funny
Recommended
11.4 hrs on record
Posted: March 10
For this review of Cave's latest Steam release, I'm going to talk about a concept known as the wall. When you can't get past wave 9 in Robotron 2084, that means you've hit the wall. One of the many walls I've run into is Black Heart from Battle Garegga. No challenge is impossible, but the ones that are the most improbable to overcome can be considered walls. Deathsmiles is one of Cave's easiest 2D shooters, but it's definitely not without walls of its own. Through the use of a brilliant rank system and a multitude of deep scoring methods, players will find many ways to test their abilities.

Unlike other Cave STGs, this one allows players some freedom in determining their route. There are eight stages in the game, one of which is entirely optional. Furthermore, players can choose from one of three ranks of difficulty, for the first six stages. The higher ranks result in tougher bosses, enemies spitting more bullets, and other dangerous occurences. Still, the walls aren't liable to appear until you aggressively pursue the hardest possible route.

If you decide to play the extra stage and/or go through five of the other stages at rank 3, you're going to enter "Death mode". At this point, every gothic horror you destroy will unleash a flurry of suicide-bullets. In order to combat this new threat, you'll have to change tactics. Your familiar is essential in Death mode, because they can absorb these last-ditch attacks. The little beasts are rather tricky to manipulate, and since they float so far from the player, there's a good chance suicide-bullets will still get uncomfortably close. The presence of physical walls and swarms of foes add to the claustrophobia.

I'll admit, at first I hated the presence of suicide-bullets. I've been playing Deathsmiles off and on for over five years, and I'm just now starting to get accustomed to them. Their presence requires players to adopt new strategies. The monsters of Gilverado are rather weak, and they don't flood the screen with bullets as soon as they appear. This gives players time to position themselves as well as their familiars. The keyword here is restraint. Enemies in this game can approach from both sides, and you can box yourself into really bad situations if you shoot everything as soon as they appear.

Admittedly, I'm nowhere near qualified enough to discuss how to get hi-scores in this game. On average, players better than I are scoring ten(!) times as many points. Still, it doesn't hurt to go over the basics. When you're in the middle of several monsters and their bullet-spewing corpses, you still have to consider how to get some extra points. First off, your shot determines what items you collect. Depending on the enemy, tapping the fire button or holding it down, can result in more or less valuable items. By holding both fire buttons, you get a lockshot, which drains your item-counter, but can award even more items if used properly.

When the item-counter fills to 1,000, then you can unleash the Power-Up mode. Now, when you destroy enemies, they drop truckloads of valuable items. You'll want to gather gold crowns until you're awarded 10,000+ points apiece. At this point, you allow the crowns to hit the floor, where they will break into several skull rings. These items don't build your counter as quickly, but once that's maxed out, you'll still recieve the 10k bonus for every ring. Finally, you have to time your kills so that as soon as your Power-Up runs out, you recieve a huge in-flux of gold crowns. This will fill up your item-counter almost immediately, allowing for another Power-Up. Naturally, this is all easier said than done. Your timing has to be precise, and everything falls apart if you fly into a bullet. The scoring system is a little convoluted, but it also feels very rewarding. Collecting thousands of 10k rings at once makes for a very lovely visual.

Deathsmiles boasts six modes of play. While these modes are very similar in terms of stage layouts and bullet-patterns, they're quite different in other ways. Version 1.1 introduces suicide-bullets at earlier ranks, more maneuverability for your familiar, and several scoring changes. Mega Black Label offers a fifth playable character, another Extra stage, the dreaded 999 rank, and its own set of scoring rules. Both modes also have their own variations on cumulative multipliers, which will result in hundreds of billions of points. To me, 999 rank might as well be Ultra mode from Mushihime-sama, the density and speed of bullets is just too much for my puny brain to handle. However, I really like all of the variations on the scoring system. Sakura's a good character as well, probably too good. She has two familiars! Two! This makes suicide-bullet absorbing less ardous a task.

For the sake of completionists, the original Arcade versions of Deathsmiles and Mega Black Label are also included. When this game was ported to the Xbox 360, it recieved a graphical overhaul and some slight rule changes. Certain stages and bosses also have varying amounts of slowdown, which further differentiate the arcade and 360 versions. To be honest, I can't pick a favorite mode. They're all great, because none of them feel too easy or too confusing. Although, the 1.1 modes are probably best-played with a 360 pad, since the right-stick can be used to control the familiar.

Having so many modes of play can seem overwhelming, but I think it works for this game. Despite the sizable differences between them, these modes clearly communicate all of the basics needed for players to succeed. If learning the extra stage in one mode is giving me a headache, I can move to 1.1, MBL, or MBL 1.1 and practice them for awhile. There aren't any variations of the game that play entirely different, so most of what you learn can be applied universally. Coupled with the exceptionally fluid rank system, this makes for an STG that's approachable for gamers of any skill level. If you hit a wall, at least you have something else to work towards in the interim, rather than just head-butt the bricks in the hopes that you'll make a few cracks appear. There's a constant sense of accomplishment, and you'll always feel like you've made some progress.

Due to a (recent) disc-drive failure, I haven't been able to compare the PC port with the Xbox 360 version. Still, from my experience I feel confident in saying that this edition is well-done. The slowdown is accurate, even when accounting for all of the various game-modes. Like Mushihime-sama, this port lacks standard resolution options, but the screen-size can be adjusted for most any monitor.

Deathsmiles is one of the rare titles that understands the balance of accessibility. It offers enough challenge through its various systems to satisfy hardened veterans, but also allows concessions that appeal to casual STG-fans, without being condescending. It doesn't make players ashamed of themselves for choosing rank 1, or opting to not play the Extra stages. At the same time, there are sizable scoring benefits for learning Death Mode, 999 rank, and possibly challenging the true last boss. Whatever the case, players are treated to Cave's trademark mastery of STG design and mechanics. All in all, it's a fantastic addition to any fan's library.

Disclaimer: For the purpose of this review, a key was provided by the publisher.

If you liked this review or want to see more recommended games, be sure to follow our curator group: Follow Original Curator Group
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
38 of 59 people (64%) found this review helpful
3 people found this review funny
Recommended
14.3 hrs on record
Posted: March 10
"Angels Smile in the face of Death"

Well, Degica yet again brings you another CAVE game, that brought you guys Mushihimesama, here's Deathsmiles.

Made in 07-08 within Arcades and then later on to X360 ports worldwide and into Mobile, Deathsmiles is one of CAVE's greatest Shmups ever made.

The story is this...4 (or 5) Girls from various countires (Windia/Casper/Follett/Rosa), known as Angels by none other than the host of the manor they live in by Count Dior, have suddenly been transported to Gilverado, unbeknowning to them, they appear to understand and how its connected to their fates, they also appear to have "Faimilars" as well. Thus far, on All-Hallow's Eve, a man named Jitterbug appears in Hades Castle, summons a portal between Gilverado, and the real world and tries his way to get back into the real world, he also has a family with his Wife and his daughter, Sakura, the Witch of the Bog Wastes (Also a playable Angel), from where the portal appears, monsters and beasts have appeared all across Gilverado, and its up to the Angels to stop Jitterbug and turn everything back to normal, but not only that, a sinister being appears what stands between them and it, can they defeat it? Its up to you, the player to find out.

Either way, the game's based more or less on the US/PAL 360 version (with less on the text accents) with all of the features so far and all modes pertaining to this release (Arcade/1.1/Normal/MBL/MBL 1.1/MBL Normal), Arcade and Normal modes are your default modes with its own scoring mechanic and difficulty selections in-game, while the 1.1 Arrange modes play slightly different, and requires a controller with the 2nd thumbstick to move your familiar to handle the suicide bullets easier. (Be reminded, there's no online co-op unlike the 360 version has.)

PC Options will be there as usual to check within your own resolution and style. For bug problems and all that, as usual, refer to the forums for this game.

Note: More on this review will be compared and fully complete as soon as I get enough time onto it. I recommend it, as would others that like the Shmup genre as well, thanks CAVE/Degica! X3
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
35 of 56 people (63%) found this review helpful
3 people found this review funny
Recommended
3.1 hrs on record
Posted: March 10
A lovely direct port of the 360 version, works fine with every feature included except online coop.
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
10 of 11 people (91%) found this review helpful
Recommended
2.4 hrs on record
Posted: March 27
I loved this game back when they released it for the Xbox 360, and I love it now. CAVE releases some of the best bullet hell shmups out there. Creative artwork, lots of great bullet patterns, and best of all they are really approachable.

While your goal should be to avoid death and rack up the highest score possible, they are content to give you continues out the wazoo, so that you can experience the entire game no matter your skill level. This way, if you are new to games like this, you won't be put off by hitting a wall right away, and can still experience all the challenge and creative fun this game has to offer while you work on improving your skills.

Between finding the best ways to maximize your points and use your familiars, this is the kind of game you can lose countless hours just trying to perfect. If you haven't liked shmups in the past, this MIGHT change your mind just due to its more forgiving nature. Of course, if you just don't like chasing high scores or the concept of shmups, this game probably isn't going to change your mind.
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
12 of 15 people (80%) found this review helpful
2 people found this review funny
Recommended
6.3 hrs on record
Posted: April 9
Deathsmiles is a horizontal Bullet Hell centered around five girls and their fight against evil. Right off the bat you are given 6 modes to choose from which all feature subtle tweaks to the gameplay. Normal mode allows you to pick which ever difficulty you want and Arcade mode only allows you to pick the easier levels a few times before forcing you to up the challenge. “Ver.1.1” is definitely a mode you'd want to avoid picking the first time around as it only gives you one bomb per health bar and causes enemies to fire yellow projectiles once they are defeated far more often. Mega Black Edition adds an extra fifth character called Sakura to the fray as well as one new optional level and an new harder, more insane difficulty called “Level 999” that will test even the most hardened bullet hell player's skills. It is quite an overwhelming number of modes to choose from the first time you play and they don't state what the differences are so I thought I'd dedicate a paragraph properly explaining them.

After you choose your mode of choice, the game will start up in a rather small screen that you can tweak to your liking in the options menu as well as change the border art. Depending on the mode you choose you are able to choose from either 4 characters or 5. They all have the same speed and health though what really separates them is how they shoot their projectiles and their unique familiars that accompany them throughout. Sakura fires in a narrow spear like formation and has two crow familiars that take quite a bit of skill to use correctly but allows you to fire at any angle. Follet fires in a wide helix like formation and has a dragon familiar that rains fire in a short but devastating stream while Rosa has a single giant stream that sparks a few extra projectiles toward the end of it and has a fairy companion that can shoot through any objects which is insanely useful. The other two have their own quirks too and none of them feel better than the other which really helps fuel the need to discover the ins and outs of all the cast.

One of Deathsmiles most unique features is the ability to choose in what order you take the first 6 missions on. You can play them in any order and if you are playing Arcade mode gives it a bit of strategy as it will not let you play all the levels on easy so choose wisely. After you finish the batch of 6 levels you are then given the option to head to either the last mission or the completely optional stage. Mega Black Label modes adds another optional level resulting in two optional stages if you are brave enough to face them. Those two optional levels do not have a difficulty mode you can set so these will be your demise if you are used to playing on easier difficulties. You don't receive anything for completing them other than a higher score at the end assuming you don't die so it may be best to skip them if you are attempting to run with no continues or a 1CC as Shmup fans call it. With 7 levels and two optional ones it will take you around 40 minutes to get through this.

The gameplay has a rather neat feature in which you can shoot to the left with one button or to the right with another. I really liked this unique mechanic as it keeps you from remaining stationary on the edges of the screen like so many other bullet hells. In Deathsmiles sticking in the middle is your best bet as enemies will swarm you from both sides of the screen which feels absolutely awesome as you lay waste to your foes and feel like the anime version of Neo from the Matrix. Unlike most other games of this genre you will not die from a single hit, instead you have a life bar with three sections. Taking a hit will cost you one section of the life bar while touching an enemy or a hazard will cost you half of a section. Losing an entire section will reset your bombs to max capacity though they do not stack so taking a hit while still having bombs left is incredibly wasteful. Bombs work like in any other game and they clear the screen of all projectiles and does heavy damage to your enemies.

You can increase your life bar to allow you to take more hits if you do well enough though it is a very difficult task and using a continue will reset it back to normal. Holding both firing buttons at the same time allows you to fire at any enemy in short range of your character which is less useful than simply firing in that direction. Where it becomes really useful is when facing bosses as getting in close and holding both buttons locks on to him meaning you can focus on just avoiding his attacks while doing consistent damage. As you defeat enemies they will drop items that both increase your score and fill up a number meter at the bottom left of the screen. Once you hit 500 or more in that meter and you press both attack buttons you will enter a “Power-up mode” where you cause more damage and receive much more points per kill.

In “Ver.1.1” entering this power-up mode becomes much riskier as killing an enemy while it's in effect guarantees that it shoots projectiles once it dies and your attack becomes much more flashier making it hard to keep track of where the projectiles are. It is a risky gamble while on death's door and you are hoping the extra points you get from it will get you a health item or a bomb. Holding the attack button slows you down and deals more damage but the amount it slows you down is so minimal you are unlikely to notice. The amount of continues you can use is unlimited so any one can get to the end of this title.One minor annoyance that remains from Cave's last Steam release called Mushihimesama is the lack of one overall option for your screen settings. That means you will have to tweak your preferred screen settings on each of the 6 modes which is a very slight annoyance yet a remaining problem of their ports.

Where Deathsmiles really messes up is on the story. It is pretty terrible and that is nothing new to the genre but there is too much of it here and no way to turn it off. It's pretty bothersome to mash a button to slightly speed up the cutscenes that were boring the first time around and it does reduce my will to keep on replaying it. Each character has slightly different things to say throughout the course of the game and each one also have one of two endings to choose from at the end. You know nothing about the characters which makes it hard to care but it's a cool feature nonetheless. A simple option to turn the story off would do wonders for those that have already seen all it has to offer or simply don't care. Graphics are do the job yet for some reason the characters are 3D models that have aged far worse than the 2D sprite work. The game also has objects like walls or cliffs that block you and forces you to make your way around it. I'm personally not a fan of stuff that impede your movement in bullet hell games but the real problem here is that you occasionally don't know if it's an actual object or just background scenery until you try flying through it. In a genre that requires split second timing second guessing yourself like this will likely spell your doom.

Enemies in this game range from minotaurs, cyclops and even tanks. It is a very cool and whacky mix of both reality and fantasy. Each level has a boss at the end waiting for you and they all fight quite differently. Bosses are far odder than regular enemies and your jaw will likely drop when you see one of them is a giant cow. All in all Deathsmiles is a fun Bullet Hell that tries many different things and succeeds on most of them. While the story is a pain to read through having 5 characters, multiple routes and many modes to choose from is more than enough reason to replay this game time and time again. It's not the best the genre or Cave has to offer but it is a unique enough experience to warrant a buy from any fan of Bullet Hells.
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19 of 28 people (68%) found this review helpful
Recommended
3.5 hrs on record
Posted: March 11
Status: Completed (w/ Rosa)

This is an enhanced port of the 2007 arcade shooter from Cave, which was also ported to Xbox 360 (and later to mobile platforms). It feels and plays like a very high quality old school arcade game.
The chosen theme here is nothing new for Japanese shoot'em'ups - witches and castles entourage, bizarre enemies and story which doesn't take itself seriously (well, if you choose Rosa, that is), and it reminds me of games like Parodius and Cho Aniki. You will fight bosses like giant cow and giant man head, it's that kind of game.

Presentation

...is fantastic. Gorgeous art, highly detailed everything. Non-stop action, bright colors, little touches here and there. It features both pixel art and pre-rendered sprites (some of the enemies and bosses like Mary).

Gameplay

The controls are simple, yet not really common - you have one button to shoot right and another one to shoot left. You also have a bomb / spell which kills everything on the screen and “Targeting Magic”, which is an alternate attack which features lock-on mechanics.
Bullet hell shooters are known for being very unforgiving. But Deathsmiles has...how would you say...democracy? All stages except the last one (and the bonus one) have Rank system (difficulty level). You choose 1, you get a walk in the park, you choose 3, you get the true bullet hell.
So both groups of players would be happy – the ones who play shoot'em'ups for entertainment and the ones who play it hardcore, for scores and ranks.
Every stage is different and the game introduces new enemies with each one. I never felt like something was recycled.
Its length is exactly would you expect from an arcade game – 30-40 minutes and it's GREAT. The replayability is there – choose different characters (all have different attacks), choose different ranks, choose a different mode, heck, choose a different ending (quite literally, you just choose the ending you want in the end of the game, A or B).

Technical

There are many options to customize your experience. Make it 4:3 or 16:9, choose background image, zoom the screen how you want, etc.
The game has framerate slowdowns. They're not common, and they usually occur when there are hundreds objects on screen at the same time. In such games it's something that people see as both good and bad, so it's up to you to judge is it a problem or not.

A quality port and great game, a must have for shoot'em'up fans.
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21 of 33 people (64%) found this review helpful
7 people found this review funny
Recommended
1.6 hrs on record
Posted: March 10
"Death smiles at us all. Lolis smile back." -Aksys Games

Buying this game is a no-brainer if you have any interest in shmups. It's got CAVE-grade, bi-directional shooting action and creative level design and characters. This game is my only regret selling my 360, and Degica did a fantastic job with this port.
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28 of 48 people (58%) found this review helpful
10 people found this review funny
Recommended
2.9 hrs on record
Posted: March 10
1.famous arcade shmup game.the enemies design is so western festival style.
2.the european mysterious lolita girls'style.the female characters are so kawaii.
3.the operation is so smooth.the bgm is Bach fantasy style!
4.the bullets is so nice.you can play the game and appreciate the beauty of bullets.
5.the adequate missions are funny,you will never feel bored,when you complete this game.
6.the story comes from european fairy tale.the boss is child fairy tale.
7.let's play the game with charming girls,and enter magical fantasy world!
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11 of 16 people (69%) found this review helpful
Recommended
15.7 hrs on record
Posted: June 15
An excellent port of one of the best shoot'em up released on the xbox360.
IMPORTANT:be sure to play the "Normal" or "Version 1.1" game modes to enjoy the game's impressive visuals in high definition.
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4 of 4 people (100%) found this review helpful
Recommended
8.9 hrs on record
Posted: March 13
The Steam version of Deathsmiles is finally here and for the most part is faithful to the Xbox360 port. This version also includes all of the updates and modes, including the Mega Black Lable DLC with Sakura as the 5th playable character and an extra additional level. Deathsmiles stands out as a Cave shmup title because they've committed to a horizontal side shooter which has been rarley seen with their titles. Each of the 5 playable characters have their own individual abilities with slightly different mechanices and their own familiars that also adds another layer to the gameplay can can be used in a number of situations.


Pros:
-4 Playable characters with different attributes with a 5th playable character in the included MBL
-Decent amount of variety in its mechanices with the characters and their familiars
-Non linear levels with various difficulty levels ( Levels 1, 2, 3 and the dreaded 999)
-For the purist out there, the arcade modes is mostly faithful to the original arcade's resolution while Normal and 1.1 modes has a much cleaner, updated higher resolution for those who want their old school games to look their best
-Some of the dialogue has been improved
-Gothic lolitas!

Cons:
-Missing online co-op from the Xbox360 version, although there is local multiplayer
-Found a minor bug where the game crashes when trying to switch from window to full screen. Luckily to fix this when the game does crash when switching to full screen, just restart the game and it will display on fullscreen.
-This is considered one of the easier Cave titles to 1cc, which may turn off the most die-hard shmup fans



Verdict: Thumbs up! Despite the minor bug and the missing online feature, Cave and Degica has done this game justice bring it out to steam and for the right price with everything featured. This is another sleeper hit I think gamers should look into and give this one a go. It may not be quite as intense as Mushihimesama but its just as enjoyable.
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