Tuesday 15 December 2015

Devilish (Game Gear review)

Developer: Opera House
Publisher: Sage's Creation
Released: 1991

Devilish is inspired by Breakout (1976, Arcades) and it also saw release on the Sega Mega Drive in 1992.

There's eight stages and the objective is to direct a ball to the exit within a strict time limit. To do this you use both your paddles to bounce the ball around but if it lands at the bottom of the screen you lose a life. There's four different paddle formations you can switch between on the fly; stacked vertically, spread across the screen, in an L shape and a reversed L shape. The last two allow you to bounce the ball left and right as the levels scroll upwards and to the sides as you progress. Along the way you'll face numerous obstacles such as breakable blocks, water that pushes you down and dragons that temporarily swallow the ball making you lose precious seconds. There are power-ups to obtain though, one of which allows you to plough straight through blockades without the ball ricocheting. The action moves at a brisk pace and the controls and scrolling are spot-on. Each stage has tons of interesting ideas to keep you guessing what lies ahead and the intriguing themes include graveyards, castles and volcanos. The switchable paddle formations are awesome as they add layers of strategy and greatly increase replayability. There's some fun boss battles too and highlights include the vampire that shoots projectiles at you and a fight with a ghoul while giant snakes drop down to block your attacks. In later stages the time limit is a bit too strict and annoyingly if you die you're sent back to the beginning of the level! Also, with only eight stages you're likely to see the end credits just as things start heating up. The game's SFX are great with satisfying explosions and the music is atmospheric.

Devilish is a highly unique title and one that's perfectly suited to the handheld given its condensed stage lengths and pick-up-and-play nature. It does a great job of evolving the genre and the paddle formations, abundance of gameplay ideas and cool level design make for a really entertaining experience.

Random trivia: In 2005, a sequel called Devilish: Ball Bounder was released on the Nintendo DS.

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