The Devil is in the lack of details
While the title of this game may initially sound absurd, after playing the game for a few minutes, it begins to make some sense. The game is classic in the sense that its gameplay is loosely based on the classic title Breakout. The gameplay is also fast paced and reliant on destroying obstacles and enemies, so that takes care of the action part.
Devilish also makes sense since the game’s “story” revolves around the horrors that Satan is causing a peaceful people. That being said, even though I can see where the name came from, it doesn’t become any less ridiculous. By this same logic, Mario Bros. should have been named Questing Happy Jumping Plumbers. But as the old adage goes, this poorly named rose would play the same no matter its title.
As I alluded to earlier, Devilish’s storyline is virtually nonexistent and completely uncompelling. It is delivered in a very uninspired fashion with still screens, fading text, and perhaps the lamest soap opera music to ever grace a video game. Through these segments, you learn that Satan and his minions have attacked a once peaceful kingdom, killing their queen. The king and princess are forced to flee and make plans to combat this evil. I’m still not entirely sure how this makes sense, but it somehow results in sixteen levels of bouncing around a destructive ball with a final confrontation with the devil himself.
Lame story and odd name aside, Devilish is a fairly interesting game. Instead of just being a gothic themed clone of Breakout, Devilish puts a unique spin on this classic action title. The ball in this game isn’t limited to just destroying a number of blocks located at the top of the screen in order to advance. Devilish takes more of an action/adventure approach, having you navigate through dungeons until you find an exit portal. Along the way, you will combat numerous enemies, open treasure chests, destroy various obstacles, and even participate in some boss battles. These levels are like Legend of Zelda dungeons if Link put on some weight, turned into a ball, couldn’t control his ability to stand still, and could break through barricades and damage enemies by rolling into them. This is a fairly valid comparison except there are really no puzzle elements involved in getting through any of Devilish’s levels.
To navigate through these levels, you are given a ball and two paddles. The bottom paddle remains at the bottom of the touchscreen, while the upper paddle can be moved wherever you wish, including the top screen. While having action on the top and bottom screen seems like a good idea at first, the break between these screens becomes very disorienting. The upper paddle can also be tilted using the left and right shoulder buttons to adjust the angle that the ball will bounce. Unfortunately, the ball will frequently ignore the tilt of you paddle and react as if you hadn’t bothered to move it from its flat position. While this is unfortunate, the ability to scout ahead with the upper paddle is a very welcome addition.
Throughout each level, you will have the opportunity to snag various power ups such as paddle stretchers, speed boosts, 1ups, and ball strengtheners. You will need to be careful about what you are picking up though because for virtually every power up the game offers, there is an equal and opposite negative power up. This keeps the gameplay both interesting and challenging at the same time. The boss battles are fairly simplistic, having you hit a specific piece of the boss until it is defeated. These battles, because of the bosses’ sizes, are often the best examples of just how disorienting the split between the DS screens can be.
Devilish is not a pretty game by any stretch of the imagination. Most of the objects and enemies in the game are quite pixelated and blocky looking. It is also difficult to tell the difference between most of the enemies in the game. The sound effects and music in Devilish are also fairly below average. There seems to only be three sound effects for your ball making contact. One for hitting enemies, one for striking a metal object, and one for coming into contact with everything else. The in-game music is passable but quickly becomes repetitive while the “cinema” music, as I mentioned earlier, will give you flashbacks of an episode from last week on “Days of Our Lives.”
Even with all of its faults, Devilish is still a unique and fun game. Unfortunately, the game will only take between one and three hours to play through. Since there is no multiplayer or alternate play modes besides trial (playing levels over again to beat high scores), there is a serious lack of play value. This game was truly different, but ultimately, poorly executed. With more options, play modes, and sizably larger amount of polish, I would be very interested in a sequel to this absurdly named game.