Suckered in by the promise of a Limited Edition with some cool bonuses, I first played Deathsmiles when it dropped for the Xbox 360 back in 2010. The game is off the rails in all senses (save for the central on rails shooter mechanic, of course) but at its core, it is a beautifully-illustrated bullet hell shooter that did not take itself too seriously. I turned down the difficulty, turned up the volume, and experienced a trippy hour of gaming.
Other than a few memorable tracks from its soundtrack, the game did not resurface at all in the decade that followed. I’m not the biggest shooter fan, so the need to replay, beat my high score, or test drive the alternate characters did not arise. It wasn’t until I needed footage from the game for my 30-Day Game Music Challenge video last year that I picked up the Steam release to revisit the title’s dark witchy world.
The game’s graphics did not look as great on a PC monitor as they did on my Xbox all those years ago, but there’s enough detail to appreciate the game’s amazing monster designs. On recommendation from the Steam forums, I used the bonus character Sakura for my second playthrough. She – and her tiny troop of magical penguins (what is it with these silly games and penguins?) – do a decent job of filling the screen with firepower, even when my lack of skill prevents them from doing anything impressive.