Can you survive An Unholy Return: The 31 Games of Halloween?
Devilish Reviewed by Josh Dollins on . Rating: 78%
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  • Review Score:

  • B+
Devilish (both the original and the Game Gear remake) can be best summed up as a horror-themed Arkanoid meets 19XX. Sure, that idea may sound pretty stupid, but back then it churned out a pretty good game.

Players take on the role of a young couple, a Prince and Princess. One day, a dark demon appears and transforms them into, what else, two stone paddles. Shortly afterwards, the demon's hoards enter the world, transforming it into a hellish abode. However, a giant blue orb also falls from the sky. Utilizing their cursed forms, the couple must use the orb to defeat the demon and regain their human forms. Okay, it's not the best storyline, but back in those days that wasn't really important. Besides, you try coming up with a decent storyline for a Breakout-type game, I'd like to see how far you get.

As I said earlier, this game's a lot like Arkanoid. However, as opposed to one paddle, players take control of both of the transformed lovers. It's odd to describe, but while the paddles are linked on a horizontal axis, the top one can move freely on the vertical axis, while the lower one is stuck in position near the bottom. Players can also change the positioning of the paddles, from the standard stack to a split lower block that extends the reach of the paddle and two arrangements that turns the top block sideways in some sort of pseudo-corner.

There are six stages in this game, each with their own time limits. Players have to direct the aforementioned blue orb in such a way that it blasts through various headstones and other obstacles like zombies and evil decapitated women. The goal of each level is to reach a whole slot marked with arrows. In some stages, there are giant bosses, somewhat like the ones found in those pinball games like Kirby's Pinball Land or Sonic Spinball.

There's also a time trial mode, in addition to the "story" mode, dubbed "Normal Mode" in this game. Comparing it to the Genesis version, there is one thing missing that I think would've been an awesome addition to the game: a two-player mode. Granted, it may have been a hard addition to the game, but even an alternating single-system mode would've been nice.

The graphics are actually pretty good. Everything is clear and has a nice visual flare to it. Sure, it's not quite as good as the Genesis version, but that's to be expected. The atmosphere of the game comes into full effect here, with the environments and enemies fitting the game's horrific tone. Hell, the bosses are even designed well. Still, there is a fairly limited look to the game (especially in the menus), but considering how early in the Game Gear's lifespan this game was released, I think I can let that pass.

The music's pretty good too. For the most part all of the melodies fit with their respective environments. However, most of the songs aren't exactly memorable, with the exception of the first stage's theme. Sound effects are okay too. There all fit for the most part and there is one piece in particular that impressed me: the digitized beep “laugh” that is played when the start button is pressed at the title screen. Granted, it isn't exactly realistic, but it's still awesome, especially considering the game's age.

As for replay, well, this game's actually pretty fun. There are a few areas that could've been improved though: more game modes would've been neat. You know, like a two-player mode or maybe a mode that would've changed some of the game's mechanics (like limiting players to one paddle or making the game more like Breakout). But, you can't win them all. It's a good game nonetheless.
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