Devil World (NES)

Game Review

Devil World Review

Europe PAL Version

Posted by Robert Hughes

Absolutely Diabolical

Very few developers can boast the introduction of as many unique and refreshing gameplay concepts as game-crafting master Shigeru Miyamoto. Nintendo’s iconic developer has reinvented and reinvigorated countless genres, breathing new life into stale and tired gameplay tropes and carving a name for himself as one of the industry’s most influential creative minds.

Devil World, in contrast, is what happens when the legendary developer has an off day.

It’s as impossible now as it was 30 years ago to craft a title under the ‘maze-game’ genre without drawing the obvious comparisons to the arcade smash-hit Pac-Man, and very few games attempting to cash in on the '80s craze the yellow pill-muncher began compare favourably. Pac-Man was an exercise in simplicity, a game any novice player could grasp and enjoy without much effort or explanation — oddly enough, these design concepts Mr. Miyamoto purports to strive for in his games today. However, Devil World replicates and then muddies the mechanics Pac-Man so effortlessly perfected, introducing confusing rules and odd iconography that make the game imposing and difficult to enjoy.

Players take the role of Tamagon, a green bipedal dinosaur creature best described as the illegitimate love-child of Mario’s trusty steed Yoshi and Bubble Bobble’s Bub, in his attempt to thwart the dark designs of the devil himself. The demon stands atop the field of play and gestures flamboyantly whilst wearing red speedos, forcing the play-area to scroll in the direction he points. Tamagon’s task is to collect all the non-descript dots on the screen without being either crushed by the scrolling maze or touched by one of the stage’s other enemies. A further wrinkle is that Tamagon can only collect the dots whilst holding a crucifix, a power-up that disappears shortly after collecting, meaning that the player must juggle avoiding being caught between the screen edge and a barrier, collecting crucifixes, dodging enemies and collecting dots. It’s as confusing as it sounds — both in concept and execution — and the game quickly devolves into hanging around a small area of the screen and praying the maze scrolls in a useful direction.

Once one of these main stages has been completed, the player must then collect four Bibles (one at a time) and place them in the middle of the stage to defeat the devil. The screen still scrolls and the enemies are still present, but the Bibles are placed in the four corners of the screen, meaning the player is at the mercy of the scrolling maze. These stages are actually easier than they sound, but can prove frustrating when the final Bible lies just out of reach and the game refuses to allow you to retrieve it.

The game’s confusing concept is baffling enough, but the religious iconography neither portrays the game’s objectives well, nor does it mesh well with Nintendo’s ‘all-inclusive’ image of the time. The game feels similar to how one would imagine a Pac-Man knock-off developed by Wisdom Tree would, an awkward shoehorning of religious symbols into a game where they make little sense. The obvious implication is that the holy artefacts are the eponymous devil’s weak point, but few new players would immediately realise that dots can only be collected whilst holding the Holy Cross, or that Bibles must be inserted into a giant block with a skull on it. It’s surprisingly poor conveyance from a developer so renowned for his effortless design skills and leaves Devil World feeling disjointed and odd, like a Sunday
school ROM-hack, especially when bonus items such as ice-cream blatantly stand out from the theme.

The visuals are entirely uninteresting – there’s very little flourish one can give a maze-game, in fairness – and the characters are bland and forgettable, except the devil himself (whose red undies and disturbing gesturing are forever burned into my retinas). The screen scrolls
smoothly on the horizontal axis but awkwardly jumps when scrolling vertically due the the technical limitations of the NES, and this quickly becomes irritating and even slightly nauseating. The music, when present, is actually fairly decent – it’s got simple, catchy melodies akin to Ice Climber and the like – but throughout most of the game the soundtrack is the bleeping of the scrolling screen.


Devil World’s worth is only as a curio, an odd reminder that even the greatest creators can’t strike gold every time. It pales in comparison to the simpler and infinitely more entertaining games in the Pac-Man series, games that Devil World is desperate to trump but seems to fail to realise what makes them so engaging. Those looking to experience a little schadenfreude at Miyamoto’s failed creation may find Devil World interesting, but those just after a good time are better off looking elsewhere.

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User Comments (41)



Kaze_Memaryu said:

Yeah, it's hard to like Devil World, but there are enough worse VC releases out there to risk the curiosity.



Gold said:

I can imagine Bubble Bobble being rebooted into an FPS. Also, hope this goes on NA VC.



Agent721 said:

Terrible Review. I got this two months ago on famicom, and despite not speaking Japanese, I had no problems figuring out how the cross worked, or anything else in the game. I figured out the entire game in about half an hour, without ever getting stuck in any part of the game field or without much trouble getting the bible or any thing else. And, gosh, I didn't even get nauseated (I can't believe that statement was made). The devil, IMO, looks like Ganon from the 1st Zelda, which is kind of neat.

I bought my copy in its full famicom glory as a curiosity more than anything, but I found the game to be a 7/10. The coop mode is cool & the game is somewhat challenging, which I enjoy. I am a big Pacman fan, so maybe I'm biased, but this game is not as hard or confusing as this review makes it out to be. It's a charming game that reflects its built date of 1984, well before the Nintendo era had officially arrived in most of the world. And you get to see what Miyamoto was doing before hitting it big. For many reasons, it's worth checking out.



BlackStar9000 said:

This is why I joined the Nintendo Redirect Movement, dam u Nintendo, we dont care about no-name titles like this, WHERE IS SUPER MARIO 3?! Iwata needs to see a therapist cause the dude is delusional if he thinks this game will get my money....



C-Olimar said:

Review reads more like a 3, maybe 4. End score doesn't matter really, though. I'd rather just play Pacman...



Melkac said:

I think a dungeon-crawler reboot of Devil World would be interesting...
But Tamagon needs to be redesigned >_>



Windy said:

Chalk up another Dud for the VC. VC guy your fired! lol that's twice this week I fired that guy



2Sang said:

I kinda want this game even if I'm not going to play it just because it's a somewhat important piece of nintendo history. This series could be perfect for a remake, albeit in higher quality.



tanookisuit said:

I've got to agree with Agent, this review is over the top low considering what there. Sure it's not the best MIyamoto game, surely on the lower end of the scale but a nice average 7 is solid for the mechanics and thought that went into this game as it plays fine.

Clearly with the title and the crosses uptight NOA wouldn't have this out here, but I've had it a few years now on a 115in1 cart I found at a flea market and it's a decent distraction, especially in download form.



StarDust4Ever said:

@Agent721 I agree with you on the bad review part. It seems many reviewers seem to be unfairly harsh on early NES/Famicom games. People need to remember that the Famicom released in 1983, right around the time video games crashed in the states. Compared to Atari visuals, even the earliest NES/Famicom games were bright and vibrant compared to what was currently available. I too imported Devil World Famicom a few years back, mainly as a curiousity, and have found replay value in it. Yeah I'm aware if the reasoning behind this game coming to the states due to the religious imagery, but there is nothing offensive at all in the way the symbols are used. It's a cute little platformer that fits in well with the arcadey feel "maze craze" fads of the day, along with Ladybug and other Pac-clones. The theme and motif works well for the time period. It certainly is far more playable than say CluClu Land or several other early maze-based NES/Famicom games. If you enjoy early arcade games, give this a try; it will not disappoint. Just don't expect the same gameplay as say, Pacman. This game is very unique and nothing else like it exists before or since.



sinalefa said:

I would rather get this than SMB3. For me the idea of the VC is to check games that we could not play before, not to play (and pay for) the same game for the umpteenth time.



NintyMan said:

I'm American, and I would be very interested to play this game just out of curiosity. I won't go out of my way to import it, though.

The religious censorship seems silly now because there were still crosses in a few NES games, like Kid Icarus.



Gorlokk said:

Hope it comes to NA.

Ha, maybe Sakurai will take a character from this game as the 'obligatory retro character' for Smash 4.
Then reboot it as an amazing game, of course.



MIDP said:

Terrible comment.
The reviewer is simply saying that the rules of the game are confusing and not obvious. And he is totally right to do so.
I downloaded it a couple days ago as a curiosity myself, and sure, I figured out what to do. But that still left me with the question of, "How can I know that there arent any more game mechanics that I dont know of that I should" because of the fact of how weird the rules were.
You cant expect people to figure that out in other words.

When it came to the gameplay I honestly though it was terrible.
Im still going to go back and give it some more time, but honestly, it might be the worst VC game Ive ever downloaded so far.



StarDust4Ever said:

@MIDP Hardly worse than CluClu Land. The mechanics in that game were an abomination, and I was forced to play it in NES_Remix...



KnightRider666 said:

@MIDP: I own all 49 of the NES games released on the 3DS in NA and there are far worse games out there like Renegade, Sky Kid, and Star Soldier. This game looks awesome, and I'd buy it in a second if it ever comes to NA. I highly doubt it will though:(



8bitforever said:

Another VC gem....NOT! Is there a reason yet that there aren't like 10 titles a week coming out. This is just another reason why Nintendo's days are numbered. Iwata needs to be fired already! This is just stupid.



Sean_Aaron said:

I really like this game and I have it in my Wii channel. I'll be picking it up when it hits the Wii U eShop for sure!



DiscoDriver43 said:

I swear i saw that devil guy in Brawl. Anyway, this game looks ok. But honestly it looks like a pac-man wannabe



Agent721 said:

If this is the worst game you're ever downloaded on the vc, you haven't downloaded much. If the rules were that confusing, you couldn't take 5 minutes to look them up online? I stand by my comment...harsh & terrible review.



GeminiSaint said:

This review is surprisingly negative toward this game. Shame on you, Mr. Robert Hughes. Shame on you.
I think Devil World is a fun little diversion in the vein of other score-attack games of the era such as Pinball or Balloon Fight. It's fun for what it is, and in my opinion it does deserve to be released in the US.



MeloMan said:

Wow... I'd still like to play this just because. Isn't the "bible" in this game the same Book of Magic in the original Legend of Zelda?



Obito_Sigma said:

This game better come to the NA Virtual Console. What's the point of the Virtual Console service if you're just going to release the games that were only originally sold in that region? NA has less strict rules now excepting games, so we should have seen this game and the Fire Emblem series since the Wii Virtual Console. Don't they realize how rich that Nintendo could become by releasing foreign software (translated to English)? Well... you know what I mean...



Gridatttack said:

I still have this (plus 63 NES games) on those chinese weird console. Its pretty hard. I remember I always got squashed by the screen lol



SSBMarioFan said:

@Obito_Tennyson They're not going to listen. When a game is released only in Japan and Europe, it stays there. I have no problem with games not released in NA, so why should you? We're getting Super Mario Bros. 3 in 2 weeks, so at least be happy with that.



Luigithemetal64 said:

This is a bad review. I played that game before, and I have no problem with it. I already know that you have use crosses to collect dots and breath fire as well as collecting bibles to defeat the devil. It's got some variety than Pac-man. NOA should've reworked on the game such as replacing the devil with a monster, crosses with crystals, and bibles with gems. I think the best is the best Pac-man clone that I've played so far. I give that 8/10.

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