Friday, February 24, 2012

Dezaemon [Daioh Gale] (SNES)

Checkpoints ON
3 Difficulty levels
6 Stages
Ship speed by icons
- - - - - - -
Developed by Athena
Published by Athena in 1994

Second in Athena's series of shmup creation engines, Dezaemon is the title of choice for those who want to build their own shooting game for the SNES. It's the only one of its kind for the console, obviously improving upon the NES first outing with more colors and some new features. Once more everything about the building engine is in Japanese, so unless you're really patient with both the language and the limited (by today's standards) options offered by the editing tools the only reason you'll ever want to own Dezaemon is to play the sample game made from its own resources, a little vertical shmup called Daioh Gale.

Daioh Gale is a basic shooter with six stages and some characteristics that can be remotely associated with Athena's prime arcade shooter Daioh. Some people are eager to call it a pseudo sequel or a direct sequel, but I beg to differ. The truth is that it's a rather conventional short game and a considerably easy clear, so calling it a sequel to the excruciatingly tough Daioh sounds like utter heresy. Daioh Gale is a complete game, but it's also supposed to serve as a taste of what the tools in Dezaemon are capable of delivering. Being developed by Athena, it's perfectly understandable why it uses some of the concepts of Daioh while borrowing its name.

Both Daioh and Daioh Gale are thematically close to Raiden, but Daioh Gale is heavily toned down in difficulty and bullet count.

I think I've seen this somewhere?

Selecting "GAME PLAY" on the start screen and going to any of the two choices after that will start Daioh Gale (the lower choice corresponds to the editable version of the game). Luckily, all further in-game options are in English. Simple and straightforward, gameplay is based on powering up and selecting between three types of weapons. P items increase the ship's power, S items increase the ship's speed, SH adds a 1-hit shield to the ship and B adds one bomb to the bomb stock. Colored icons are used to change the weapon you're currently using: red corresponds to a vulcan spread pattern, blue activates a mix of straight and (slightly) homing missiles and green consists of a constant stream of homing bubbles. It takes just a few power-ups to reach maximum firepower, extra bombs appear often and you can get at least one shield per stage. Extends are granted with 200.000 points and then for every 500.000 points afterwards.

Despite being a checkpoint-based game, the checkpoints in Daioh Gale are rather generous in that they're not too spaced and will always allow you to restart in front of some enemies that spawn items. You will also start the next life with the weapon you were using when you died. Bombs behave differently depending on the active weapon: with red you get a round blast, with blue you have a column-shaped energy discharge and with green all targeted enemies will suffer more damage. All bombs are bullet nullifiers and serve as panic relief. Since they don't count for any sort of bonus, feel free to bomb away if you get cornered by some of the tighter patterns in the game. They're few and far between, but depending on the weapon you're using it can certainly happen. Speaking of weapons, my favorite for the first four stages is the homing shot (green). By the time I have to face the fifth boss I switch to one of the others because he's got this annoying blue ball that's immune to the green weapon. The last boss does this as well, so the game pretty much forced me to give up on the best weapon.

So what are the similarities between Daioh Gale and Daioh? Besides the name the only ones I can think of are the sprites for the ship and the way weapons work. They resemble the original weapons from Daioh, even though the awesome lightning shot was horribly downgraded into those relatively ugly green bubbles. Everything else is quite different and not related to Daioh at all. The same progression from earthly environments into outer space exists, but it's done with a completely different and simplified design. The music is unrelated, and although Daioh Gale doesn't hurt my ears I can't say it stands out in any way.

Toying around with Dezaemon + two stages of Daioh Gale
(courtesy of YouTube user Vysethedetermined2)

Unlike me, there are people out there who have actually taken their time with Dezaemon to build something. Here's one example of a user-created game, another one made by a Gundam fan and a music homage to King of Fighters 2002. Both game examples clearly show some of the limitations imposed by the available tools, such as the user not being able to change the fonts for the HUD and the limited assortment of enemies and weapon types, which are basically variations on the stuff existent in Daioh Gale. The interface is supposed to be considerably more versatile than it was in the Famicom version though, including the possibility of using a mouse. Unfortunately you're still restricted to creating only vertical shooters. It's impossible to share them with others, and as far as I know every user-created game turns out to be a unique personal baby in that lonely Super Famicom cartridge (for more details you can always check this awesome Dezaemon article/hub).

But fret not, regular console shmuppers, Daioh Gale is included in the cartridge to quench our volatile shooting needs. As expected for such a title and quite unusual for an ordinary 16-bit shmup this one has a save function that preserves high scores. Below is the 1CC result I got for Daioh Gale on NORMAL.


  1. And there goes another one from this series. Edward, did you saw the trailer for Heaven Variant, an indie shmup that's being developed by 3 people? I think it looks good.

    1. Why do I get the feeling you want me to delve into PC shmups, Kinni? hehehehe
      Heaven Variant looks cool, kinda inspired by Einhänder I suppose?

    2. Oh! You have discovered my cunning plan!