Game Review: Dezaemon Plus!
Genre: Vertical Shoot’em up
Developer: Athena / MonkeyPaw Games
Available Platforms: PlayStation Network, PSP
ESRB Rating: T for Teen
Website: Official Website
As with Alundra, Arc the Lad and Magical Drop F, MonkeyPaw Games seems to be completely committed in bringing classic PSX titles to the PSN. The latest one, a vertical shooter among the likes of Ikaruga, has just been released, and it’s bringing a little twist; now you’ll be able to design your own stages, ships and enemies. But aside from the neat concept, how does Dezaemon Plus! fare after 14 years of its initial release?
Dezaemon Plus! is divided in two main areas. Gameplay offers a nice selection of levels designed by people back in the day, so in theory, you’re not playing only one game. These custom-made designs are very interesting to play and look at, but they’re essentially the same game. The other half of the game, Edit, includes a fairly vast editor (that was used in all the Gameplay scenarios) which lets you create your own levels either from scratch or using the game’s own assets, in areas such as graphics, level architecture and even music.
As stated before, Dezaemon Plus! is, at its core, a vertical shooter. You start a level with your basic shooting mechanics and as you progress through the level you get some power-ups to help you beat the boss, in order to get to the next level. As simple as gameplay is, it becomes a little hard because your ship is usually too slow and the increasing amount of enemy fire makes it difficult to handle, let alone getting the power-ups that make the game significantly easier. This, however, loses relevance as every time right before a boss, there are a couple of enemies carrying some important items; one of them, a green orb that will grant you the most over-powered laser ever created by a developer. Not only the difficulty significantly decreases after getting such orb, but you get to keep the power-up even if you die. It should be noted, however, that even with its shortcomings, there’s good fun to be had within the various designs offered in the Gameplay area, and the fact the art between those is so vastly different does leaves you wondering what’s coming next, which is good.
The other half of the game is probably the most interesting and innovative one. It’s a level creator with a plethora of options for you to build your own levels. Considering this is a 1996 game, this is a pretty ambitious and novel concept to incorporate in a game like this. The Graphical Editor will let you edit existing assets, or draw new ones in order to create ships, enemies, explosions and so on. On the other hand, the Construction Editor will let you customize how the actual level will perform. Lastly, the music editor acts like a Mario Paint of sorts. Unfortunately, given the complicated and badly designed interface, there’s really no fun to be had. Some of the icons are unintelligible, while others are simply bad; the movement is extremely erratic, which leads to an overly frustrating experience when it comes to drawing. I know it is possible to actually create something with this tools, but they are so poorly executed, you will probably want to avoid this section altogether.
It’s clear the developers had their heart in the right place, as it’s palpable they wanted to deliver quality shooting and a wide array of options and tools to create, but it’s also clear they should have planned the game in a more, I don’t know, communication-friendly way. You see, all the aspects are put in place for a good product, but they fail to deliver. A testament that always a final product should be a lot more than the sum of its parts.
Julian’s Final Say: Dezaemon Plus! is a fun, but poorly controlled and overly easy effort in the shooter genre. Boasting a nice amount of content but failing to deliver when it comes to its biggest selling point: The Level Builder. It’s nevertheless admirable they were trying bold ideas and concepts back in 1996, but this game is still really hard to recommend.
- The visuals are just appropriate for the kind of game and the time it was conceived but the interface is simply unintuitive.
- Plethora of building tools and options, as well as a good amount of content.
- It is compatible with a mouse. In fact, the editors should be played with a mouse.
- The single player stages are fun but easy once you realize how to exploit certain aspects. The editing part is no fun.