Cave's bullet hell shooters aren't exactly the types of games many players don't even like to play with control pads. So how's this iPhone version supposed to work?
Not to shabby, actually. Going into DeathSmiles, I was apprehensive. Previously, Cave brought Mushihimesama, a shooter I really like, to the iOS as Mushihimesama Bug Panic, a game I didn't enjoy as much I had hoped I would. Mushihimesama was reworked as an adventure game with shooting elements.
But I was also excited. Cave's previous iOS versions of arcade titles ESPgaluda II were more in line with what Cave players wanted to see on the iOS. Me as well.
DeathSmiles is, well, DeathSmiles. The game is Cave's second side-scrolling shooter (Cave shooters are traditionally vertical scrolling). The game's Gothic Lolita stylings garnered much attention when the title was originally released in 2007, but it's not all window dressing.
For an iOS game, and I hate prefacing statements like that, DeathSmiles is a solid little shooter, capturing the appeal of the maniac chaos of the arcade original. Cave does slide in some new elements like items for sale, including continues.
You can earn in-game currency to purchase continues, but you can also use real money. I've almost finished the game (still playing it!) and didn't need to break down and buy continues with real cash.
It also feels like there's more story here — story I kept scrolling through — that follows heroine Tiara.
There were a couple instances where it was hard to see where enemies and bullets were because my finger, which was controlling my character, was on the touch screen, which is unfortunate. However, I was able to adjust and play through it.
DeathSmiles works on iOS, not as well as it does on home consoles, nor as well as in arcades. But that's not the point here. This is DeathSmiles you can run on your phone, play while waiting for a bus. It does that, and does it well. That is, unless you worry about playing a Gothic Lolita shooter in public.