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Act: Demonstar: SM1 [by MKing]

Game Review: DemonStar:  SM1
Release: Dec 2002
Genre: Action
Developer: Mountain King Studios Inc.
System Requirements: DirectX 5, 200mhz cpu, 16MB Ram, Win95,98,98SE,ME,2K,XP
Price: US $15.95
Download:  Now!

Shareware developers have a tough marketing job. Not only must they overcome general ignorance of their existence as a whole (you mean we can buy games online?) but they also have to compete with the endless supply of free games and arcade emulators that litter the web. The question has been posed more than once, “Why should I buy arcade styled games when I can download an emulator and have every arcade game ever made?”

 Demon Star: Secret Missions 1 from Mountain King Studios is a perfect example of how a game custom designed for the PC offers a superior experience to an arcade game running on an emulator. It delivers all of the graphical and audio quality of a top of the line arcade shooter but makes full use of the one thing PCs excel at: user control and modification. Virtually every aspect of the game’s presentation and control is easily adjustable to suit any computer setup or user preference.


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The plot is typical of what you would expect from a scrolling shooter but the superb graphics and white-knuckle gameplay are consistent throughout all 8 levels. The levels are fairly long and extremely difficult but you can better your chances by bringing a friend in 2-player mode using the same computer or internet/LAN connection (another option not available on emulators). Even still, don’t expect to beat the game in a few hours or even a few days as the difficulty level ramps up very quickly. If you weren’t a hardcore arcade jockey when you started Demon Star, you will be by the time you finish it.

Graphics: 9/10
The graphics are top-notch if a little low on resolution. Plenty of animations and effects fill the screen at all times with no perceptible slowdown. The sheer volume of objects on the screen can be visually overwhelming but I would be stretching to call this a complaint. A lot of work went into making the visuals of this game just right, and it shows.

Sound: 9 /10
For once a developer hasn’t slouched on the sound design for their game. The explosions, environmental sounds and voiceovers are all great quality and work well to create a perfect “sound-scape”, highly reminiscent of classic arcade moments. Even the music, which is almost always a sore point for me, is pretty good and adds to the tension of the game.

Game Play: 8 /10
Even at the lowest setting the difficulty level is sadistically evil! Finding the perfect balance for a shoot ‘em up is really difficult and few developers can get it just right. Here they came very close but even the first level of the game can leave some users smashing their heads on the keyboard.

The lack of a “continue” option seems strange, as even 1 optional continue would have solved any problems concerning the difficulty. As it stands even if you lose your last ship right near the end of a level you must start right back at the beginning. You can, however, start a new game at the last level you completed rather than having to play from the beginning all over again.

I docked points for the difficulty level but otherwise Demon Star: SM1 is near perfect for the genre.

Options: 10 /10
The developers of Demon Star: SM1 have given the users an outstanding level of control over virtually every aspect of the game. Whether it’s sound volume and quality, FX details, multiplayer support, controls remapping or adjusting difficulty – everything is under the user’s control. This is what the PC developer can do that the emulators can’t.

Concept: 8 /10
You can’t claim that the scrolling shoot ‘em up or the science fiction plot are particularly original as game “concepts”. However, the lengths the developers went to bring the best of two worlds together – the style and simplicity of the arcade with the user control and functionality of the PC – sets the bar for shareware games of this genre.

Fun: 8 /10
If you are a child of classic arcade shooters then Demon Star: SM1 is exactly what you are looking for. The difficulty level can be daunting for newbies to the genre but hardcore players will feel right at home.

Overall: 9 /10
Demon Star: Secret Missions 1 delivers a near perfect arcade game combined with an outstanding level of user adjustability. I highly recommend this game to anyone who’s looking to recreate the classic shooter experience on their PC.

Added: September 15th 2003
Reviewer: Kyle Nau
Related Link: Download DemonStar SM1
Hits: 7597
Language: english

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