Devil’s Crush

Year: 1990
Genre: Pinball
Developer: Compile
Publisher: Naxat/NEC
Platform: TurboGrafx-16
Also on: Mega Drive

Do you like pinball? How about 16-bit metal? Are you a fan of hitting demons with a steel ball? If you answered “yes” to any one of those, you’ll find something to like about Compile’s heretical pinball release. It improved upon their previous “Crush” game, Alien’s Crush, in quite a few ways – the major one being that the table now scrolls with the ball. In Alien’s Crush, when you hit the middle of the screen, it would blank out for roughly half a second and change to the other part of the table. As you can guess, that got annoying pretty quickly. There’s also a lot more going on this time around. A giant woman’s face grafted to some bizarre machine/armour contraption is in the absolute centre of the play-field, the “She Giant” bizarrely highlighted on the rear of the box. The more you thwack it with your ball, the more it slowly transforms from human to some unsettling demon-snake hybrid. It changes back afterwards, but it’s still very odd. Also notable, right up the top is a big glowing pentagram with robed “followers” circling it, whom you can hit and destroy. They’re obviously bad people and deserve to be hit with a big ball of metal that’s roughly twice the size of themselves.

That skull in the top right is what taunts you when you lose a ball

There’s also a unique feature where you can pause the game and get a password for your current score and table status. Now, I’ve not played a great lot of pinball games, but as far as I’m aware this is the only one that allows you to save your progress. You’ll need it, too, as the only way to see the ending is to max out the score counter. Yes, an ending. In a pinball game. Just one more thing that makes the game stand out.

Particular note should be given to the music which, quite frankly, kicks ass. The main theme has that amazing FM-synth ‘buttrock’ that’s sadly been missing in action since the 16-bit era ended and has several fantastic guitar solos that just make you want to keep trying your luck. All the songs in the game have a really quick tempo that help set the pace of the game pretty darn well. The sound effects hold their own also, with solid sounding ‘thwacks’ when you hit a flipper, and the demonic laughter of the hellspawn that governs the bottom area and mocks you when you lose a ball.

Devil’s Crush received a port to the Mega Drive/Genesis, by Technosoft (of Thunderforce fame), appearing in America and PAL territories as “Dragon’s Fury“. There aren’t any real changes to the main game. The colour palette is slightly darker due to the nature of the Mega Drive, and a few instruments have been changed for the music, which makes some songs a bit better, some a bit worse. A few songs from Thunderforce 2 are included also. On the other hand, the bonus stages are completely different. You can also ‘finish’ the game in this version by clearing all the bonus areas.

And there’s the She-Giant, in all her… uh.. ‘glory’

Tengen (a subsidiary of Atari, mainly known for publishing unlicensed NES games) published Dragon’s Fury in the US/EU, and apparently it was successful enough for them to make a sequel, Dragon’s Revenge, without any involvement from Technosoft/Compile/Naxat. It’s not a bad game by any means, but it doesn’t quite hit the high mark that Devil’s Crush did.

Devil’s Crush is also now available on the Wii’s Virtual Console service, and if you happen to reside in Japan you can also download it from the PlayStation Store and play it on the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Portable, too.

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