Dezaemon Plus

System: Playstation (Japanese)


Game Type: Game Design/Overhead View Shooter
Dezaemon lets you design your own 2D shooting game. You draw graphics for your ship, the enemies, and the levels, you compose the music, and you decide placement and behavior patterns for the enemies. Dezaemon was originally released for the Super Famicom and the Playstation Dezaemon Plus is a slight upgrade.

Gameplay: 80/100
The gameplay rating refers to the shooting games. The control is good, and provided the game is properly designed, the action can get really intense without too many unavoidable shots from the enemies. There are several playable example games already on the disc, most of which are of passable quality.

Graphics: 20/100
Ugh. This is pathetic. The graphics are basically a direct port from the Super Famicom version, with scaling and rotation capabilities added in. Graphically this is quite possibly the worst Playstation game I've seen.

Sound: 20/100
Ditto. No improvements were made from the SF version that I can see.

Overall: 50/100
Okay, this is a pretty bad game, I have to admit. This is basically the Super Famicom game, with only a token attempt to take advantage of the PS's power. I still love it! My reasons are outlined in my description of the game design section below. The average gamer will want to avoid this one, but anyone who loved Mario Paint should without question import this game! (You'll have to; no way in hell Sony will approve this for U.S. release.)

Game Design

Music Composition
Probably my favorite part of Dezaemon. Extremely similar to Mario Paint's, but with all the features I wish MP had. Basically you select instruments one by one and place notes from them on a staff at the pitch you want. Once you're done composing you click the play button and the computer goes through and plays your composition like a piece of sheet music, playing individual notes with the instruments you designated.
Dezaemon has some great features that I'd wished for in Mario Paint's composer. First and foremost is the copy feature. You can select a section of your tune and paste a copy of it anywhere else in that same tune or any other you've composed (you can work on 16 tunes at once). Dezaemon lets you set a loop in your music, but unlike MP you can set it to start back midway through a song, allowing you to have an intro to a piece that never repeats again. Each piece has a foreground and a background, so that you can compose a percussion section and then overlay your tune over that, for example. In addition to your foreground and background, Dezaemon can play several preset rhythms, on each of which you can set the mood and add embellishments.
Once you have several tunes designed you choose where each will be used while the game is being played. For example, you can assign tune 1 for the title screen, tune 2 for stage 1, tune 6 for all the bosses, etc.
Graphic Design
Here you draw frames for your ship, your weapons, the enemies and their bullets, the stages, and even the title screen. The actual drawing is pretty tedious, since the only tool is a pencil that goes pixel-by-pixel, but for game design that's ideal. To make the job easier there are all kinds of features like copy and paste, horizontal/vertical flip, zoom in/out, etc.
Graphic Layout
Lets you take the graphics you've designed and place them in the actual game. If you've drawn a tile for when your ship banks left, you select it and place it in the slot for "Ship Banks Left". There are similar slots for the enemies, your bullets, and the explosion animations. Even the stage maps are pieced together from tiles you've designed. (If you drew a tree tile you can place that tile at several locations throughout the level.)
Enemy Behavior
You select an enemy, and then choose from several predefined movement patterns that enemy type will use throughout the stage. While there are quite a few movement patterns available I'm a bit disappointed you can't design your own. If an enemy shoots, you choose from several shot patterns as well.
Overall Impressions
The tools are easy to use, and though it takes a lot of work anyone with a bit of skill can design a playable game. Unfortunately there are so many limits placed on what each tool can do that it is impossible to produce anything better than a low-quality 16-bit shooter. My biggest complaint is that although you can make them look different, your ship's weapons will move in the same three patterns no matter what game you design. No matter who designs it, what you'll be playing is basically just a variation on the same game. There is a bit of room for creativity (one of the example games achieves parallax scrolling by making an enemy look like part of the background) but you'll be hard-pressed to find it. Still, while an hour's work in Mario Paint leaves you with only a picture to stare at, a few hours' work in Dezaemon leaves you with a simplistic yet fully interactive game, and I find that a great deal more satisfying.

Saved Game Files

This section is empty for now, but once I get my Pro Comms Link working and get some games put together I will be uploading the files here. If you have a commlink and Dezaemon, I would love to try your games, and will happily post them here!


Copyright © 1997/1998 Jay McGavren. All Rights Reserved.