Suck On My Tiny Metal Balls
With the Halloween season upon us, there are two things I look forward to: fat Goth chicks in slutty outfits and online reviewers discussing classic horror video games. Since Tabitha moved out from across the street, though, I’m left with only the latter.
Rather than focus on the typical horror franchises, such as Castlevania or Resident Evil, I’d rather focus on the most horrific thing of all: pinball.
I’ve always enjoyed video pinball games, having spent a lot of time playing Kirby’s Pinball Land on the GameBoy in my youth. Even Zen Pinball during the PS3 era packed a lot of value, and I thoroughly enjoyed the Street Fighter II and Tesla themed tables.
Originally released on the TurboGrafx 16 as Devil’s Crush, the sequel to the launch title Alien Crush, the game received the less-cool name of Dragon’s Fury when released on the Sega Genesis two years later.
While the Genesis and the TurboGrafx games generally play the same, the Genesis version is the one I spent the most time playing, so it will be the basis for this review. If for some reason your only option is a TurboGrafx/PC Engine, it’s still an enjoyable experience, but the Genesis version is the better option. Sound off in the comments if you agree or disagree; I’ll be getting liquored up on toilet wine!
Board as Hell
One of the biggest issues I have with traditional pinball is figuring out how to properly “play” the table. The majority of my strategy is to keep the ball on the table for as long as I can. If I happen to progress through the game somehow, I consider it a nice bonus.
While most of the action in Devil’s Crush takes part over three different sections of the main board, it feels both compact and extensive. This is due to each section being loaded with lots of demonic crap to bounce the ball off of, so even if you have no idea how to progress, it’s satisfying enough to just blast skeletons, imps, and other creatures crawling around the board.
The defining feature of the game is the woman’s face in the middle of the second board who gets more demonic the more the ball hits here. Ultimately, her beautiful visage rots away to reveal some kind of snake bitch. We never get a chance to see the rest of her body, so a paper bag may be able to solve this minor hiccup.
Once the snake face is revealed fully, hitting the ball into its mouth will take you to one of the game’s bonus screens. The layout of some of these screens make me question how the creators of the game hacked into my psyche 20 years in the future.
The bonus screens are a nice way to break up the game, but due to my lack of skill, they are usually over as soon as they begin. More seasoned players might be able to last longer. ProTip: Thinking about baseball didn’t help.
For those versed in video pinball, it plays pretty much as one would expect. The physics aren’t 100% realistic, but in a game where you’re knocking a pinball around monsters, it shouldn’t be. The TurboGrafx version does offer the option of either a fast or slow pace of play, which makes it accessible for players of any skill level.
Like all the best pieces of ass I’ve had, the game is dripping with blood and gore. Like a Renaissance depiction of hell, it achieves a sublime level of beauty through its horrific iconography. Granted these are merely 16 bit graphics, yet they are simple, perhaps Jungian, enough that they can pierce into the primal fear sections of our brains.
The game’s audio is also quite effective. Perhaps best noted by the giant skull’s laughter at the bottom of the table whenever a ball is lost. While most skeletons have a shrill cackle, his laugh is booming and demonic. The rest of the sound echoes nicely and helps establish the feeling of arcades from long ago.
As far as Halloween games go, this would be a nice addition to any party. Sadly, it is not included on the Sega Genesis or upcoming TurboGrax mini consoles, but those crafty enough can find a way to enjoy it.
The game offers a great pickup and play style that anyone familiar with pinball can find enjoyment with. My advice is if you’re having a Halloween party, throw this game up on the TV or someplace and let your guests fill your home with spooky images and ghostly sounds the whole night.
Even if not used to provide Halloween ambiance, this game is fun enough to be played year round for those who enjoy quality pinball games.