Nostalgic for the days when replay value meant "more than one screen?" Quaintly remember keeping a spare save file before your favorite in-game cinematic? Routinely afflicted with PDBS, Permanently Depressed B-button Syndrome?

Enjoy some olde tyme retrospectives on Japanese games from back in the day, previously inaccessible but now available in English! Games that will make you howl at the moon like the Cookie Crisp dog, plop down cross-legged in front of the TV and shout...

How exotic!

When I press start to begin Majyuuou (literally translated as Demon Beast King, and fan-localized as King of Demons, beasts be damned), I hear the first two notes of Castlevania's opening song and, surrounded by Ominous Scenery, need to remind myself that this is not a game about Dracula, but demons, and more specifically, the king of them. My guy looks kind of like miniature Cody from Final Fight. I do not have a whip but a gun. The gun does not actually shoot any projectiles across the screen but merely makes a threatening crack sound and blows out a muzzle flash.

I test out my moveset before proceeding, and go ahead and duck repeatedly just for fun. It is always the first thing I do in a new game, because I like to imagine my character crouching and standing up over and over in reality, which is ridiculous.

After I walk forward for a while I discover my invisible-bullet-shooting gun is insufficient to harm my first enemy, a strange gargoyle with whom I have a pleasant and cordial English conversation, as though following afternoon tea.

It seems that we used to be friends, and apparently my name is Abel, and he is named Bayer. But at some point in the recent past he murdered my wife and sent my daughter to be imprisoned in hell, and so I figure we aren't great friends anymore. I find it strange that I have a history of befriending gargoyle-like dudes who are named after painkillers. He uses a crazy power move on me and renders me unconscious instantly, and as I think of my screwed up family the rage powers up my gun and lets me shoot huge invisible explosions, blow away the gargoyle, and watch as the ghost of my wife turns into a little fairy who follows me around. Then for some reason I am immediately knocked into an abyss by a huge mother fucker that may very well be the offspring of a maggot, Whoppers brand malted milk balls, and teeth. This is the first two minutes of the game, and I am a very tiny man who naturally has decided that somehow he knows exactly the way to get to hell and pull his daughter from the gaping maw of the Beast Lord.

When I start the next stage my gun has stopped shooting huge invisible explosions and has returned to pea-shooter mode.

The best part of Majyuuou is that when I shoot the zombies on the second level just right, their heads blow right off. They keep coming at me of course, and don't seem in any way impaired by having lost their heads, but it's the little things that count. By "just right" of course I mean "at all," because even if I shoot them in the feet by hopping just barely up from below, their heads still blow off on the first shot. This is one impressive firearm!

After I take a cargo elevator back up, I shoot a naked lady riding a California Raisin in the head until she explodes and leaves me a red gem. The red gem turns me into a moth/gargoyle who shoots little scythes, or, if I charge up, I can shoot suns. These massive tools of artillery are used in the next stage to destroy sunflowers and tiny fairies, which is not any joking matter, because sunflowers and fairies hate moth/gargoyles. There are caterpillars who can shoot laser beams at me, which is a skill that I had not realized caterpillars possessed, not even caterpillars birthed in the everlasting terror of the pit of Acheron. But I am a bad-ass so I can do cartwheels, which cancels out the lasers (obviously).

A later level on my quest to most stygian Gehenna takes place on top of a freight train, presumably because the hell-demons need to be well supplied with things like milk and Flamin' Hot Chee-tos. I fight atop this train after I have already morphed into the Green Goblin, which I did by slaughtering a giant Mode 7 eyeball in the level before this one.

Have I mentioned that, in general, I'm having a hard time of this? For a shape-shifting beefcake with a new pair of hi-top Keds I am surprisingly immobile, especially compared to the seemingly standard-issue red fireballs that nearly everything in this world seems to shoot at me. The enemies move way faster than I can and in my obligatory post-miniature-Cody forms I am a clumsy fat beast who cannot help but be damaged by all manner of projectiles. I also can't change the direction of my jump, which I guess adds some realism since I can't change the direction of my jump in real life. What I can do, however, is jump again in mid-air, which I guess makes a little sense in that it totally does not make any sense at all.

Other vexing grotesqueries that I encounter on my whirlwind journey to the infernal hellfires of jahannan:

  • Goddamned bats
  • Giant flying centipede

At the end of the game, after destroying a stupid, impossible boss, I am presented with a fascinating cutscene in which I read two lines of dialogue and then listen to the sound of me brutally murdering my own daughter with invisible bullets. The Internet says that there is a "good" ending, which you get if you collect the end-of-stage gems in a certain color order.

But for my money, any ending that culminates in my utter destruction of archfiend Mephistopheles in the abode of the damned and then the cold-blooded murder of the whiny girl that drug me through a relentless gauntlet of pigwidgeons, loup-garous, and flibbertigibbets all the way here to save her blonde-headed ass is the real Best Ending.

I am miniature Cody, King of Demons!

This game was patched for English text in 2005 by Aeon Genesis. You can read more about their work here.