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Demon’s Crystals is an arcade twin-stick shooter from developer Byte4Games and published by BadLand Games. You take on the role of one of the four Urican demons in pursuit of 3 mysterious entities that have turned the world into an aggressive ghoulish horde. Tasked with collecting the crystals which are the source of the Urican power the player must dispatch the evil with reckless abandon. Being an arcade twin-stick shooter the lack of story can be forgiven as the game tells its story through gameplay. Thankfully the meat of this game is found in its various multiplayer modes. While it is always unfortunate that online is not an option, a couch multiplayer session is very enjoyable. Deathmatch, Survival and Capture the Crystal offer differing experiences but always leave you wanting another round or 5.
Spread out over 3 worlds (Graveyard, Castle and Forest) each of which consists of 9 levels. The final level of each world is a boss battle which tasks the player with defeating 1 of the previously mentioned mysterious entities. Each level features 2 to 3 hordes which must be defeated in order to proceed to the next level. You must either collect a specified number of crystals, which regenerate, throughout the level or eliminate a number of enemies. On the rare occasion both requirements are enforced. There is a countdown timer which can be slowed but rarely becomes an impediment to the player. On the surface, Demon’s Crystals succeeds it what it is designed to be. Movement is fluid and shooting is precise. All inputs for the game are handled through the two analogue sticks with the left controlling movement and the right shooting. Scattered throughout each level are a variety of weapon powerups which alter the type of shot the player has or give boosts in the form bombs, a dragon, gun pods and size altering mushrooms. Given its arcade roots, the powerups are all active for a limited time forcing the player to constantly move around the arenas looking for new ways to dispatch the ever growing hordes. Players can stack the gun pods turning themselves into a walking firestorm capable of filling the entire screen with gunfire if the right weapon powerup is also equipped.
This is where the sense of power truly lies in this game as opposed to the levelling system. Players begin as a level 1 Urican from the beginning and gradually level up to a cap of 90 during their playtime. The levelling system does not do a good job of showing any progress or sense of power increase to the player. In fact, it wasn’t until I exited the game and started a higher level as a Level 1 character that I saw any difference. The enemies scale along with the player so you are always as powerful as the task at hand, when attempting a high level with a low-level character you finally see that your attack is not powerful enough nor can you take the damage. Conversely, when you succeed with a low-level character you can power level faster going this route.
Visually Demon’s Crystals is a standard affair. Lots of brightly coloured bullets spread over dark moody backdrops. The design of the levels harkens back to the feel of Super Ghouls and Ghosts and even has a little Medievil, from Sony, feel. The Levels are tight arenas that have hazards scattered throughout to add to the players worries. A problem arises in that there is an inconsistency with the transparency of some of the level assets. This causes you to lose sight of your character frequently but more bothersome is that the ever-spawning enemies can also spawn in areas that are hidden from view thus causing you to take damage if you enter that area evading fire from other attackers. When you engage in one of the boss battles, the player camera angle changes which can be jarring at first as you have to readjust how you avoid attacks from a different perspective.
On the audio side Demon’s Crystals delivers what you would expect from an arcade game. While initially disappointed in the lack of variety in the music, what is there is well done and really fits the tone and mood of the game. This really stood out as one of the highpoints during the hours of slaying the hordes.
Demon’s Crystals is a competent arcade twin-stick shooter. While overly simplistic in how it is delivered, there is fun to be had in the enjoyable multiplayer modes which add a decent amount of replayability. While not breaking any new ground this one takes a tried and true approach to arcade gaming and delivers with some good old school fun.