Click here to view the King of Demons [Majyuuou] (SNES) description page for walkthroughs, screenshots, and more information.
~Review by tankMage (January 2020)
Here’s a short breakdown of King of Demons’ strengths and weaknesses, scroll down if you wish to read the full review.
-Simple, but solidly made platforming action.
-Abel, the hero, can transform into four different demons.
-Controls are smooth and the hero has a great moveset.
-Graphics look good overall.
-Interesting stages and twists that help tell the game’s story.
-Great boss fights, plenty of mid-bosses.
-The game is short.
-Mediocre music aside from a couple of songs.
-Not much in the way of secrets.
-Poorly balanced mechanics.
The King of Obscure Japanese Sidecrollers.
Majyuuou or King of Demons is a great sidescroller that was never officially released outside of Japan. One look at this game with its blood, nudity, and a setting that H. P. Lovecraft would have described as “demoniac” makes it clear why it never saw a US release, even in an era where edgy games were becoming less taboo. Luckily, Aeon Genesis came to the rescue and made a translation patch for Majyuuou years ago, so we can enjoy this gem in English. Despite its gory trappings, this game is a fairly simplistic platformer that relies on a transformation gimmick and a slew of boss fights to fill out the action. With that it mind, the devs were wise to focus on the bosses and transformation gimmick, because these features set King of Demons apart from its peers.
As I understand it, the story revolves around a guy named Abel whose wife and daughter were kidnapped by his friend Bayer, who decided to betray Abel in exchange for becoming a demon. Somehow, Abel makes his way to the underworld in search of his family and learns that his daughter is going to be used as a sacrifice to resurrect the Demon King. I can’t say if there’s much more to the tale aside from the ending, because there is no English manual available for this game. While the story is good enough to get the adventure rolling, there really isn’t much to it and the devs should have added another cutscene or two for the sake of character development.
As a platformer, Majyuuou has often been compared to Castlevania, but in reality it plays more like a Mega Man game without the level select or “Rock, Paper, Scissors” boss weakness system. Players will have to do a lot of sliding, jumping, shooting, and weapon charging to defeat enemies, which gives the action a fluid, Mega Man feel. Abel will also transform into various demons after collecting special gems from bosses, though these transformations are fixed until you beat another boss. Altogether, the demon forms handle like Abel’s human form, though their powers vary in range and effectiveness. The demon forms are very interesting and make the game more dynamic, though they weren’t balanced very well. They also add to its replay value a bit, since players will have to go through the story again to try out different forms and get new endings.
King of Demons has a slew of bosses and mini-bosses to fight, which is a good thing, because these fights add a lot of much needed substance to an otherwise short title with simple levels. In general, the boss fights are alright, especially the final one which is quite climactic, but the difficulty is all over the place. Some bosses are ridiculously easy, while the mini-bosses you have to fight before them are more challenging. Additionally, difficulty will vary from stage to stage depending on the demon form the player chooses, though this does more to add to the depth of the gameplay than detract from it.
The controls for this game are great. Abel feels fast and responsive thanks to his quick reflexes and conveniently mapped buttons. That said, some of his attacks lock him in place for a second, which tripped me up until I got used to it. The HUD is minimalistic, which helps keep the player focused on the action. There are no menus to speak of nor is there a save feature of any sort, but this game is so short that one isn’t necessary.
As far as music goes, the sound track gets the job done, but many of the tunes are easy to overlook. Some of the stages have great theme songs and it seemed the devs tried to save the best of the soundtrack for the last few levels. I also enjoyed the sound effects and short voice clips that were included. The devs wisely used the latter in the final battle to give it more significance.
Don’t expect to see the best graphics the SNES could manage while playing this title, though they aren’t bad and the game certainly has its own style. That said, some of the sprites and animations look a bit more blocky and stiff compared to some other Super Nintendo titles made towards the end of the console’s life. The gore, bizarre enemies, and creative stages take some attention away from this game’s flaws. And, oh boy, you will see some weird shit in Majyuuou; there are plant demons, giant eyeballs that shoot lasers, and even an insectile demon train just to name a few of the curious monstrisites Abel must fight. I’d give the graphics a 9 out of 10 just for imagination alone if I rated these things separately.
Finally, I’ll comment very briefly on Aeon Genesis’ fan translation. There’s not a lot to say about it, good or bad, since there really isn’t much text in the game. That said, the patch was done very competently, without any bugs or messy text, so I would certainly advise anyone who cannot read Japanese to use the Aeon Genesis translation, though the game can be played without the story.
The only thing that really hurts King of Demons is its brevity. Three or four more stages and a few more secrets to unlock would have really topped this game off perfectly. It would have also been cool if the player could unlock and switch demon forms at will, but hindsight is 20/20 and the devs had to do their best with what they had to work with. In the end, this game is still good and most people should be able to squeeze a day or two of entertainment out of it. My only regret is not saving this title for a rainy day near Halloween.
King of Demons is definitely worth playing, though I would not spend a ton of money on it.
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