Deathsmiles Review

Recently, Cave has brought their arcade shooters to iOS and adapted them for a new audience. Last year’s Dodonpachi Resurrection is just one example of Cave making exciting “bullet hell” titles available in the App Store. With this track record, we’re not surprised by the quality of their latest port, DeathSmiles.

Deathsmiles for iOS includes the original arcade game, and adds a brand new experience as well. Rather than play as one of the four witches from the main game, you can now control an umbrella-toting princess in a story set after the events of the main game. This new content isn’t limited to its narrative, though– it also adds an entirely new RPG-like aspect to the game.

Anchors aweigh!

In this new mode, you collect gold and items that you can use to better equip your character. You’ll need to increase both your defenses and your firepower if you wish to be successful at the higher difficulties, which are predictably unforgiving, given the genre. Only the lowest difficulty is available from the beginning, and the next level up will rigorously test the skills of most players.

Even with the inclusion of this new iOS-exclusive mode, we can’t help but wonder why some of the more interesting content from the Xbox 360 release of Deathsmiles didn’t make it to this version. The 360 version included more ROM select options than you could shake an umbrella at, and there were some brutal difficulty options for those brave enough to face them. Even though this version costs far less than its console counterpart, it’s a little disappointing that some of the best content for hardcore fans isn’t available.

Deathsmiles has a great look, thanks to well-realized, pre-rendered sprites, like in Mortal Kombat and Donkey Kong Country. The action can get pretty crazy, but the frame rate never suffered on our iPod Touch 4G. We also have to mention the soundtrack, which is exceptional.

Don’t get up.

The game makes the jump from gamepad to touchscreen flawlessly. Creating a satisfying control scheme is half the challenge of making a good game for iOS, and Cave has really cracked the code when it comes to bullet hell shooters. You simply move your auto-firing character by swiping the screen, and the few onscreen buttons are easy to use.

Even if this isn’t the definitive version of Deathsmiles, it’s still a game that fans of bullet hell shooters should pick up. Competitive players will undoubtedly keep coming back to improve their scores and unlock achievements, and the new RPG-like mode adds extra replay value to the game. Even if you already own this game in another form, you’ll probably enjoy this new, portable version of it.

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