It may seem like eons ago today but there was a time when people other than your grandparents and scapegoat seeking politicians were worried that video games would bring the world into a state of moral decline (of course we all know by now that only reality TV can do that).
Back in those days, Nintendo of America was infamous for its very strict content guidelines. Many games had to be altered to get the famous Nintendo seal of quality including Castlevania 3, Final Fantasy 6 and even DuckTales of all things. Some games managed to sneak some questionable content past Nintendo’s watchful eyes (looking at you Bionic Commando Hitler-headsplosion); however, there were some games that never even reached US shores because of the draconian unoffensiveness policies. One such game was Devil World.
Devil World may not be a household name but it does have some major star power behind it since it was designed by the legendary Shigeru Miyamoto in his pre-Super Mario Bros days.
Being banned from America and having a title like Devil World may make the game sound like a badass action game like Castlevania or Ghosts n’ Goblins, but it’s actually a quirky Pac-Man rip-off, but it’s not a bad Pac-Man rip-off.
You play as the dragon Tamagon who must, and I quote, ”Attack the Devil’s World!” and that’s more or less as deep as the story goes.
However this incarnation of the Devil’s world is less fire and brimstone and more colorful maze filled with ice cream.
Some stages follow the Pac-Man ”eat all the dots” formula but, unlike the dots in Pacland, Tamagon can only eat dots if he’s holding a cross, this game’s equivalent of Pac-Man’s power pellets, which also gives him the ability to breath fire turning his enemies into fried eggs (don’t ask, it’s a Japanese arcade game from the 80′s). Other stages instead task you with collecting four bibles to seal the devil caves at the center of the maze.
There are two innovations that set this game apart from Pac-Man though, the first of which is the Devil himself. Beelzebub hangs around at the top of the screen and randomly points in different directions, which causes the maze to scroll in the opposite direction. If Tamagon is trapped between the edges of the level and the maze walls, he’ll be crushed and lose a life.
The second innovation is that the game offers simultaneous multiplayer for two players and, of course, the game becomes even more fun with double dragons (ha-ha).
Except for the Devil and a couple of Christian symbols there are really no actual religious connections in the game and especially in this day and age I can’t imagine anyone, religious or not, being offended by this innocent little 8-bit game.
If you live in Europe or Japan, Devil World is conveniently available for download from the Wii’s Virtual Console and is an easy recommendation if you enjoy Nintendo’s other arcade classics like Donkey Kong and Balloon Fight. For US gamers it’s sadly a little more complicated. Since both the NES version and the Virtual Console release never reached the American market, at least for now, you’ll need to import either the Japanese Famicom cartridge (which does have English text) or the European version which was only released in Scandinavia (guess all our sinful metal music made us susceptible to the game’s evil influences). This makes the game a bit more expensive than the average NES game but if you’re a fan of classic arcade games, it’s still well worth a look.