Name: King of Demons (translation of Japanese name: Majyuuou)
Format: Super Famicom
King of Demons is a platformer with a similar sort of theme to Castlevania. You know, it's dark, broody, and depressing, and to cheer yourself up you have to go and kill a large variety of interesting species of demon type things.
King of Demons was never released in English officially, but Gideon Zhi from Aeon Genesis Translations has released a translation patch for it. You can pick it up from his website (http://agtp.romhack.net). The translation adds a fair bit to the game, as the plotline is actually quite interesting. Well, it's better than The Usual CrapTM which game companies churn out.
The story concerns our good friend Abel. No, not that one.
In a bit of a buggery day of Extraordinary Magnitude, Abel's wife and daughter have both been kidnapped. Yeah, like, Shit. And then, he finds out his best mate, Bayer, has sold his soul. He's become like, a, err, flappy flying thing. Yeah. Sucks an all. And then, on his way to rescue his family, he finds that his wife has been killed to resurrect the King of Demons. Like, DAMN. A bad day. I'd probably chill out, listen to some Mozart or something, but our Abel is a guy who don't take shit from no one. Not even if he is a huge demon king with near infinite legions of really nasty things to throw at our intrepid adventurer. So naturally, he plunges right in and begins his trek through all Hell.
After that, you know his day can only get better. And it does. He gets to kill a large variety of nasty enemy monsters in a pleasing Castlevania / Super Ghouls 'N Ghosts style. In fact the last analogy is particularly applicable - our man gets to fire a variety of projectiles to his left and right, and can also perform a double jump, but there is a Ghouls and Ghosts style "I don't want to change direction mid jump" element that you must take into account while playing. The projectiles fired are at first of the hot lead variety - our man's first form is a Duke Nukem style man with jeans and vest approach. He shoots, he shoots, and then he shoots some more. He also possesses a power punch - simply holding down the fire button charges a bar, which when full will unleash a huge Hadoken style ball of energy when the button is released. The final ability that Abel possesses is the forward roll, activated by pressing jump while holding down. This can be very useful for evading attacks from the air.
However, after beating a few of the bosses (of which there are a lot in this game) it is possible to pick an "orb" which will morph you into a selection of other creatures. Your choice is controlled by the colour orb you pick. Colours available are:
Red: This orb turns you into a nice red humanoid demon who possesses a nice set of wings. His projectile attack now homes in on enemies, and causes them untold pain. His charging attack is a big spinning ball of... stuff. Not sure of the exact ingredients etc, but it kills stuff, and that is all you really need to know. His forward roll has become a sort of showing-off handstand flip thing. The one bad thing about this guy is that his primary fire makes some sort of demon noise which will quite simply destroy your eardrums. Not a good idea.
Green: This orb turns you into a sort of armour clad green thing. He reminds me of a knight in shining (green) armour, but don't ask me why. His forwad roll has become a sort of "turn into fire, melt into floor, then reappear from floor a few metres onwards. It is not exactly the best evasion move, because it is so slow. His shot is quite powerful, but short range and has a low rate of fire. His power shot is very nice and destructive. Overall, not my favourite form, but better than the red guy.
Blue: This guy is The Daddy. The blue orb turns you into a Dragon. Although he is tall, and therefore can be hit easily, he is also fast, has a cool, powerful, and speedy attack, a massive jump, and a very nice metallic blue finish. Definitely the form you want to use for the Final Boss.
The game has a few innovative features aside from the Morphing into other forms. For example, certain points boundaries grant you an extension on your life bar. Somewhat prophetically, the game features Abel's dead wife int the form of a fairy which flies around behind him. The fairy hurts all enemies that she comes into contact with.
Hmm? Remind you of anything? Ok, so Navi just gives advice and targets stuff while Abel's wife is a veritable killing fairy. Still, I reckon it's an interesting parallel to draw - there can't be that many games where you have a fairy floating behind you as a helper.
The graphics are very nicely done and very detailed. Special mention to the pints and pints of blood and gore which pours off enemies who are damaged. No, seriously, it's a lot cooler than having enemies flash white when they are damaged. And plenty of games are guilty of that (stand up, almost every RPG ever...).
Sound effects in game are also very good. Apart from one annoying part (the red demon's shot, as previously mentioned) which I think may be an emulation bug, the sound is all very in character with the game.
Overall, I'd highly recommend this game. It's a little known platformer, but it deserves to be up there with Castlevania IV and the others, with some excellent levels like the train level. There is a quite nice story as well, with (apparently) multiple endings. Buggered if I've found the happy one yet though.
So, if you're a fan of Castlevania or other similar games, pick it up. You won't be disappointed.
Playing the translated ROM in Zsnes