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Devilish Review

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Developer: Starfish Publisher: UFO Interactive
Release Date: May 9, 2007 Also On: None

The Breakout/Arkanoid formula has been making a sort of resurgence on the DS. Break Em All and Nervous Brickdown have both been very good representatives of that style of gameplay, and Turn It Around also contained a minigame based on that formula. But there is one other game within that formula that has been overlooked: a game by UFO called Devilish. It is a somewhat older game, one that I found reasonably cheap long after it was initially released, but, for lack of any newer games to try, I have gone back and started playing some I had not had a chance to get to yet. Does Devilish stand up to Break Em All and Nervous Brickdown, or is it better off in its present state of obscurity? Read on to find out.

Graphically, Devilish puts both Break Em All and Nervous Brickdown to shame, and it does so for one simple reason: it attempts to portray real environments rather than just being about breaking generic-looking blocks. The blocks that you are trying to break through look like real parts of a real environment. The ball is larger and more colorful than in most games within the Breakout/Arkanoid genre. These real environments and objects actually look pretty good to boot. Overall, much more has been done with these graphics than what is typically expected from a Breakout/Arkanoid game.

On the sound front, much can be said as well. Since this game actually tries to portray the ball as a weapon in a war, you can imagine that some of the things you will be hitting with it are alive. The small amounts of voice acting are actually done fairly well, regardless of the fact that they are nothing more than the moans of enemies being hit with the ball. The other sounds of objects being destroyed or bounced off of are typical fare for this type of game. The music is pretty good also and rarely gets competitive. The very thin plot in this game (yes, there is actually a plot), however, is carried forth by text rather than voices, but that is pretty normal for when this game was released. Overall, the sound is pretty good for a game of this type.

The gameplay in this game is fairly easy to pick up for those who are familiar with the Breakout/Arkanoid formula. There is no touchscreen control in this game like in Nervous Brickdown (where it was required) or Break Em All (where it was optional). Instead you use left and right on the D-pad. It works fine, although at first the speed at which the paddles move will take a little getting used to. A lot of the typical powerups for a game like this are present in this game also and some of them prove to be incredibly useful, and the game actually is nice to you and shows you the power and speed ratings of your ball on two bars so you can know just what sort of ball you are dealing with.

Notice I said paddles in the last paragraph, as in more than one. This is one of the two major changes to the Breakout/Arkanoid formula in this game. Instead of having just one paddle at the bottom of the bottom screen, you have one down there that can be moved only horizontally and another above it that can be moved in eight directions. The bottom one will always follow the horizontal movement of the top one. This top paddle creates the possibility of bouncing back a ball from any spot on either screen. One flaw to this is that if you move your paddle directly through the ball, the ball will not be pushed down by the top paddle, but will rather bounce up after the paddle gets below it. Technically, it should not be this way, but it does make the game a little easier in some situations.

One other difference in this game is the layout of the levels. Instead of being on just one static screen, the levels actually scroll, and your objective is to get your ball to an exit point at the top of the level. You do not even have to destroy everything on your way to the exit, you only have to get to it. Oh, and before you think that, okay, it is nothing that the screen will actually scroll up as you go, be aware that we are not just talking about scrolling up. The only direction that the screen will not scroll is down, and that is because you lose a life if your ball falls out of the bottom of the screen. Left and right scrolling can go back and forth all day, so aiming the ball becomes more important in this game than it is in many games like this where just keeping the ball bouncing up will result in the right spot being hit eventually.

You do not have all day though, as these levels are timed. Normally, you will have plenty of time to get through the level within the time limit though, so it is not a real issue. There are only two issues with the game itself. First, for a game that has a plot revolving around a war with Satan, there are very few enemies that can be hit. Rather, a lot of this game covers the typical Breakout/Arkanoid formula of block-breaking. Second, there are very few levels, and most of them are quite short. At the end of each of the five areas, each of which has three levels except for the first one which only has two levels, you will fight a boss. The bosses are not the most creative in the world, but they get the job done and are reasonably challenging.

This real problem with this game though is a lack of replay value. There are fourteen levels, none of which really take more than five minutes to get through. They can be played through on any of three difficulty levels, but the only thing that really makes the game any longer is that you have to restart at the beginning of the level whenever you lose your ball. The game also keeps track of your best time and highest score on each level, and there is a trial mode where you can play any level you have beaten to try to improve your score or time. But none of this is going to change the fact that Devilish is a very short game that will not last long.

Make no mistake about it. Devilish is trying to carve out new territory for the Breakout/Arkanoid formula, and does so. The game is actually pretty good while it lasts, but it just does not last long enough to be worth spending too much money on. If you can find this game relatively cheap, and if you are a fan of the Breakout/Arkanoid formula, then you should definitely give this game a try. But if you are looking for replay value, you should probably stick to Break Em All and Nervous Brickdown.

Graphics: 8
Sound: 7.5
Gameplay: 7
Creativity: 8
Replay Value/Game Length: 4.5
Final: 7.1
Written by Martin Review Guide