Developer: Cave
Publisher:  Aksys Games/Rising Star

This has to be the best SHMUP I've played in years, originally I was a bit wary of the game as this was my first bullet hell SHMUP and my first game from Cave, I was expecting to get my ass kicked, but instead, I found a game that is actually very newbie friendly, with a nice scaled progression and three difficulty settings that will appeal both newcomers and pros, I also liked how the game doesn't punish or insult you for playing at a lower difficulty.

You have four playable characters, all of them with different attack patterns, familiars, speed and gameplay tactics, there are no powerups in this game but don't worry, these girls carry enough firepower to level a small nation.

You're also given an infinite amount of continues, so if you just want to see the endings you'll probably be done with the game in an afternoon, however the point of Deathsmiles, isn't to beat the last boss as much as it is to rack up the highest score (if you use a continue your score it reset).

The game's scoring system is pretty clever, every monster has a base value and you get extra points depending on how you kill some of them, but the real objective is to increase your score multiplier which isn't all that easy considering some of your moves will decrease it.

We're pretty lucky though, the western release of Deathsmiles came will all of the original Japanese DLC included on the disc, granting you a total of SIX gameplay variations and a fifth playable character for some of them.

Lastly, I would talk about the story, but really, the game forgets it even has one, there's no intro cut-scene or dialog, you just start the game by shooting everything sight, though somewhere near the end you get some small snippets of dialog, yet, somehow, you have two endings per character, that's certainly a weird passing, if you really want to know what the plot of it all is, you'll just have to read the manual.

Overall the game is fun, flashy and very artistically creative.

- Difficulty level appeals to both beginners and veterans without punishing or rewarding either side
- All of the Japanese DLC is included on the disc
- Great Artsyle

- The story feels like an afterthought
- Not everyone will feel comfortable with playing as underage school girls

Final Grade: A+

(This review is for the Pal edition)

I'm usually not fond of Anime, but I have to say, I'm a big fan of the box art, it's colorful and will stand out in any shelf.

The game's manual isn't too bad, it gives you four pages of background information and character descriptions, not great, but in this day and age I'll take what I can get, however, apart from the game itself you also get two extra discs, these are the soundtrack and a disc with some wallpapers, a Deathsmiles themed calendar, that sort of thing.

Warning: The original packaging comes with a soundtrack disc that has its songs in a format unrecognized by older stereos, however if you email Rising Star with proof or purchase they'll mail you a new CD free of charge.

Packaging Grade: B+

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