The king of bullet hell shooters, CAVE, has ported Deathsmiles to the PC. Playing as one of five angels from around the world, you’ll spend a lot of your time dodging the hundreds of bullets that fill the screen while firing in pretty much every direction. There are various modes available, ranging from the original arcade version of the game with no graphical updates for the retro-ists out there to the Xbox 360 mode (called the normal mode in the port) that has improved/updated graphics. Along with these are the 1.1 and Mega Black Label variations of the game.

Version 1.1 allows players to manually control the familiar creatures that fly along with them shooting an absorbing select types of bullets; familiars automatically rotate around players based on movement in the “vanilla” Deathsmiles. The Mega Black Label modes have an additional playable character, an extra level, and an extra difficulty mode for hardcore bullet hell vets. That being said, Mega Black Label 1.1 is the mode that is considered “feature complete,” having everything the others offer in one convenient place. The only real reason to play the other modes would be if you care at all about getting on their separate leaderboards for bragging rights, or if you want to see the original arcade graphics.

Graphically, Deathsmiles isn’t too easy on the eyes, considering the source material is only from 2007. Don’t get me wrong, though. This in no way means it is unplayable. Levels and characters mostly consist of gothic “Lolita” imagery, but there are a few levels that take place in a forest or volcano, just to mix it up a bit. Depending on the difficulty setting, there won’t be much time to admire the graphics anyway as there will be, literally, hundreds of bullets and items filling the screen. Once 1,000 items are collected in the game, they can be activated to power up your bullets and boost your score. You will also find your standard bullet hell bomb that clears the screen of all enemies and bullets.

Instead of starting from scratch, the PC port is essentially just the PAL Xbox 360 version ported right to PC, minus the online multiplayer. Local multiplayer is still intact, though, with the option to have both players play on the same keyboard or with separate controllers. The PAL localization used a lot less flamboyant dialogue than the NTSC version, which is preferred by some players. Personally, I would have preferred the zany, over-the-top dialogue found in the North American release. But, truth-be-told, no one is really playing this game for its, at best, paper-thin story. You’re playing to try to dodge bullets as teenage girls.

If you’ve never played a bullet hell shooter, or fear they may be too difficult, Deathsmiles is a darn good place to start. The game offers multiple difficulties ranging from really easy to astoundingly over-the-top difficulty. It’s just a colorful and fun game though, regardless of your skillset. If you’ve got a thing for gothic “lolitas” or giant bosses, you’ll definitely get your fill here. Deathsmiles is easily one of the best shooters in recent history, and definitely recommended for those looking to experience the genre on their PC.

4 stars out of 5