Devil’s Crush (Turbo Grafx-16) Review

Click here to view the Devil’s Crush (TG16) description page for passwords, save files, and more information.

Quick Review

~By tankMage (July 2019)

Score: B+

Here’s a short breakdown of Devil’s Crush’s strengths and weaknesses, scroll down if you wish to read the full review.

Pros

-Nice arcade style graphics.

-Large machine with multiple mini-games.

-Main theme song is awesome.

-Password feature allows you to save.

-Game features an element of strategy thanks to the implementation of mini-games and objects that can save your ball.

-Realistic sound effects for a Turbo Grafx 16 title.

-Interesting horror motif.

Cons

-Only one main machine.

-Music gets repetitive.

-Not a good choice for people who want a hyper realistic pinball experience.

-The screen can be off center when following the ball at times.

Full Review

Giving the Devil His Due

    For some reason I’ve had an urge to play pinball games lately and have tried a few titles out. So far, Devil’s Crush is the best of the lot thanks to its imaginative design. It also makes good use of the TG16’s graphical capabilities and has an old school arcade feel to it as a result. The mechanics of the pinball machine also have a realistic feel to them that’s in stark contrast to the machine’s supernatural horror theme. The only thing I really dislike about this game is that there’s only one machine, but it’s amusing enough to keep players engaged with it for hours on end.

Story 

    After reading the game manual, I came to the conclusion that Devil’s Crush has vague premise behind it aside from it being about pinball. My interpretation of the short paragraph that explains the concept of the game is that the player was challenged by the Devil himself to a game of pinball. Apparently, defeating the Devil will break the curse he placed on the world, so the stakes are pretty high. Aside from the short blurb in the manual, there isn’t much more information on the plot. Though vague, the premise is rather interesting, so the game gets points for originality. There’s also an ending that plays when the score is maxed out, which is a nice bonus, but the final scene is very brief and adds very little to the narrative.

Graphics

    Today the TG16 is a curious relic of a bygone era, but I remember how visually impressive it was back in 1990, especially to someone like myself, who was only familiar with the NES. Even now, Devil’s Crush looks good thanks to the detail put into its graphics and the creative dark fantasy creatures that roam around the machine. The entire screen is alive with spinning pentagrams and other flashing lights that look like something one would find on a physical pinball machine. There’s even the head of a vampiric woman who slowly morphs into another monster as the player knocks the ball into goals. Players may also notice little touches, like the eyes of the skeleton next to the launcher following the ball as it bounces around.

    Staring at the same machine can get a bit dull after a while, no matter how well it’s done, and I found myself wanting more backdrops. Also, the ball could have used another frame or two of animation, though it’s possible that they skimped on certain animations to prevent video lag. However, the devs seemed aware of these shortcomings and added a few bonus games to compensate. These games are varying in their graphical quality, with some just using assets from the main machine and others using specially designed sprites. My favorite of these games featured a fireball spewing hydra that took up a large portion of the screen, so there’s a few surprises waiting for those who earn them.

Is this pinball or an Eighties metal video?

User Interface

    There isn’t much to say here, because the game controls beautifully. The score display looks like a real pinball machine’s score board, the flippers respond instantly to the player’s button inputs, and it’s possible to save your high scores with the battery save feature or a password. However, some of the game’s functions are a bit difficult to access. For example, I didn’t know it was possible to soft reset the game by holding the Run button and pressing Select until I started mashing random buttons to see what they did. I also had to look in the manual to figure out how to save, which requires the player to hit Run, then press the II button twice. A simple pause screen menu would have been a lot nicer, though the soft reset shortcut was really awesome.

Music and Sound

    The TG16, like all consoles from this era, had its own unique capabilities and Devil’s Crush makes good use of its sound processor. The main theme is a fairly long and complex piece that has an appropriate heavy metal style. There are also a few other tracks that play for the bonus games and the ending. While the music is good, only one song plays while you’re on the main machine and it starts to wear thin after a while. The sound effects are fairly convincing as well, but it does show that the TG16 had difficulty replicating the clicks and clacks of a real pinball machine.

Gameplay

    In spite of its fancy motif, Devil’s Crush is pinball, so the objective is to launch the ball and rack up points by hitting things while you keep your ball out of the gutter by using the flippers. The fact that there’s only one machine in this game is perhaps its greatest strength and weakness. On one hand, playing on a single machine can get boring, but the developers designed a complex and challenging game that’s hard to put down. Additionally, there are three sets of flippers on the board that allow the player a change of scenery as they make playing on different sections of the machine possible.

    There’s also quite a bit of strategy that goes into playing this game, because some areas are safer, but offer less points than others. Players can also try to get their ball into a tower that will block the gutter until the ball goes back into the launcher or a bonus game is activated. A similar mechanic is used at the top of the screen, where blobs will block the gap between flippers if the player can knock the ball into an alley filled with blobs. Players will also have to take advantage of the creatures that mill around the machine in order to bounce the ball into certain goals or higher areas, so there’s a certain amount of strategy that goes into playing this game well.

    Knocking the ball into certain pockets will take the player to one of seven (at least I think there are seven) bonus games that add some much needed variety to the experience. These bonus games have their own objectives, which usually involves hitting some kind of horrific monster with the ball in order to earn points. You’ll complete the bonus game if you can keep your ball out of the gutter while you hit the targets, resulting in a slew of bonus points. You’ll also get a special blue ball (no pun intended) that will earn double points in the normal game until you lose it to the gutter or a certain amount of time passes.

    As much as I enjoy this game, I’m not sure what a pinball purest would think of it, since there are many things that Devil’s Crush does that are arguably impossible on a physical machine. There were also a few instances where my ball got stuck. In most cases I was able to shake it free using the tilt function, but in one case I had to reset; good thing there’s a save feature! Finally, the screen didn’t scroll as quickly as it should have from time to time, making it hard to see what was going on.

Final Thoughts

    Devil’s Crush is the best pinball based video game I’ve played to date, and it’s a nice change of pace from the space shooters that dominate the console’s library. It was also hard putting this game down and I appreciated the save feature, which made it possible to pick up where I left off. I enjoyed the rather nostalgic heavy metal style of the game that screamed late 80s, while also giving the game a lot of personality. The fact that there’s only one main machine was quite a let down, however. That said, the game left me wanting more and perhaps it’s better to have too little of a good thing than to have too much of a bad thing.

Recommendations

Devil’s Crush is not an essential TG16 game, but it’s still a solid choice for anyone who enjoys the console.

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