Anyone who’s a fan of classic ‘shmups’ – or shoot-em-ups, as they’re known – should be familiar with the development team at Cave. Over the years, it’s accumulated an amazing game library, including favorites like Espgaluda II, the Dodonpachi games, and more.
Perhaps one of its most memorable collections comes with the Deathsmiles games, revolving around a group of witches that set out to save the world from other demonic forces. The first game made its debut on Xbox 360 years ago and continues to be a cult classic today.
More noteworthy, however, is its sequel – Deathsmiles II, also known in some parts as Deathsmiles II: Makai no Merry Christmas. The title says it all. The witches return, but this time they need to take on a variation of Santa Claus as he attempts to take over the world with his own evil forces. Only he’s not Santa Claws – he’s Satan Claws.
Just look at the picture above and you can tell this guy eschews evil. He probably shotguns beers with Krampus every Friday night before going, “Fuck it, I’m getting a large reindeer out and running roughshod!” Even so, he makes for a fantastic villain, and confirms a nice little theory – Deathsmiles II is definitely a Christmas game.
That’s because Cave wonderfully takes the Deathsmiles formula that worked so well in the original game and wraps it around a Christmas theme without fail. Lands are covered in snow and Christmas décor, and there’s even a hint of “Joy To the World” used in the main boss themes before more sinister music sets in. Oh, and yes, Satan Claws shows up to wreak havoc and summon enemies to do his will.
So why is this relevant? Why are we bringing up Deathsmiles now of all places? Well, I mean, it is Christmas time, but it’s also important to note that Deathsmiles I & II has just been released again for all current consoles. Produced by City Connection and once again developed by Cave, the game is now available for Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4/5 and Xbox Series S/X, going for $39.99. It includes the main Deathsmiles games, along with a special Deathsmiles Mega Black Label mix, for those that really like a “shmup” challenge.
This is a must-have collection for any die-hard fans, as well as anyone that finds appeal in the return of Satan Claws. (Looking at you, Harley.) And for those that prefer to go physical, Play-Asia currently has pre-orders going for Nintendo Switch and PlayStation 4, import friendly. (You can pre-order here.)
Enjoy the trailer below, and remember to have a Merry Christmas. Satan Claws demands it!