Generally favorable reviews - based on 29 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 19 out of 29
  2. Negative: 0 out of 29
  1. Beneath all of the beautiful levels and endless bullets there is an emotional story, which is a bit surprising considering that most of the games in the genre don't have any. It's very melodramatic and reminiscent of a visual novel-style of storytelling - this Otaku's dream come true.
  2. Every 2D-shooter fan needs to have this game in their collection. Shmup releases of this caliber are extremely rare outside of Japan.
  3. Mar 11, 2011
    DeathSmiles is an old school shoot'em'up with an excellent art direction, frantic gameplay, wonderful soundtrack and a good amount of contents. The product however can be fully appreciated only by the old time shoot'em'up lovers, in search of new challenges.
  4. Apr 13, 2011
    A classical game ported with love and a lot of good ideas. Heartily recommended to shoot'em up fans.
  5. 80
    Accessible arcade fun with oodles of depth.
  6. Mar 27, 2011
    It's no-hold barred old-school shmup action. If stripped of its additional content, Deathsmiles could have been an XBLA title. Instead Rising Star Games have created a niche product – a well presented old-school shmup with plenty of additional material to bring you back.
  7. Mar 7, 2011
    Deathsmiles has plenty of love for the absurd and changes the shoot-em-up formula enough to delight and surprise you. The minimalistic focus on avatar movement and bullet streams invigorates the genre by bringing it back to its roots, and the deluxe package offers great bang for the bucks.
  8. Mar 1, 2011
    With DeathSmiles Cave offers a pure arcade experience, the kind of shmup that made us fall in love with the company in the 90s.
  9. Feb 21, 2011
    Simple, elegant and deceptively deep. [Issue#106, p.125]
  10. Feb 18, 2011
    Those able to see past the idiosyncratic, somewhat stale visuals to perceive the zeros and ones ticking away beneath the surface will discover one of Cave's finest achievements: a game that lowers the barrier to accessibility without compromising its ultimate depth, a new Defender of the shoot-'em-up faithful.
  11. Feb 16, 2011
    It will still be far too difficult for most, but the game is one of the developer's most accessible titles to date, and while its jagged 2D art and unpopular genre will never grant it more than an extremely niche audience, the few who are interested will be more than satisfied with both the game and Rising Star's commendable publishing efforts.
  12. Bullet hell at its finest, with some genuine innovation for a 2D shooter and some great visuals.
  13. The bullets are plentiful in this crazy, colorful shoot-'em-up.
  14. You'll need dozens of playthroughs to get a handle on everything that's going on, and Deathsmiles is addictive enough to keep you replaying. [Aug 2010, p.79]
  15. Cave knows what it does and does it well. Fans won't be disappointed and if you want a hair-pulling challenge and can actually fathom what's happening on the screen in these bullet-hell shooters, you'll feel right at home.
  16. 80
    To me, this game is well worth the dough -- Cave's superior development quality is more apparent to those who play these games a lot.
  17. Superbly well-realised and balanced shooter that delivers a cerebral high-score challenge. [Apr 2011, p.99]
  18. Mar 9, 2011
    A decent, fun and challenging shoot'em up, that is not the best one in the last years, neither the best one Cave has made, but is very welcomed considering the shortage of this kind of game.
  19. Mar 16, 2011
    Although it may not be totally friendly for newbies, Deathsmiles is still a great choice for shmup fans, especially those limited by the choice of titles due to the lack of localised shmups.
  20. Mar 21, 2011
    Apart from a few minor flaws like endless continuous or the few levels Deathsmiles Deluxe Edition offers a great gameplay with great controlls and crazy boss-fights. Plus: There are Japanese schoolgirls in it.
  21. Mar 21, 2011
    If you're an hardcore fan of Cave games, this is your game.
  22. 70
    It's all too rare that bullethell shooters see a release 'round these parts, and that's a shame. Luckily, Deathsmiles is a strong offering with unique visuals that is sure to please fans of the genre. Decent price, too.
  23. Mar 18, 2011
    DeathSmiles is a brutal shooter with pretty (but a little bit dated) visuals, solid gameplay mechanics and a short life span. If you're an hardcore fan of Cave games and you're searching for another tough challenge, this is the SHMUP you were waiting for.
  24. Mar 1, 2011
    A well-made shoot'em up that's a bit too short for the price tag.
  25. All this enthusiasm leads us to the sad reality of the game's release. This would have been a glorious XBLA title at $10-$15, but Deathsmiles comes as a boxed copy and asks the uncanny price of $50. Sure, the game has replay value, but after a few playthroughs, only the ultra dedicated score chasers will have reason to keep going.
  26. DeathSmiles is a tough game to recommend. Not because it's bad though. It's great, for the market it's targeting. However, that market is pretty niche these days. If you don't fit in the SHMUP demographic, there is no compelling reason to add DeathSmiles to your game library.
  27. 60
    One for devoted aficionados of "bullet hell" only. [Issue#69, p.88]
  28. Feb 22, 2011
    Quotation forthcoming.
  29. As bare-boned as Deathsmiles is, playing through the game a couple times is entertaining.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 41 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 2 out of 2
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 2
  3. Negative: 0 out of 2
  1. Apr 12, 2011
    Cave's the best shmup developer ever, period. Their Death Smiles is another great bullet hell shooter with horizontal scrolling a la Progear, a gothic theme and some funny bosses to entertain you while you avoid thousands of bullets. The fact that this game managed to be published in the west is really wonderful, and I hope more great shooting games can be released in this market. Full Review »
  2. Dec 30, 2010
    If youre a fan of shoot-em-ups (or shmups)-hardcore or casual- you should definitely consider giving DeathSmiles a try. Multiple difficulties and variations of the core game, score multipliers, online play, gorgeous graphics, a great soundtrack, and different characters to choose from make this game a solid purchase. While I miss the "space shooters" of yesteryear like R-Type, U.N. Squadron, and Gradius, DeathSmiles proves that even with a strange storyline with young girls shooting stuff that the genre is still alive and kicking-still with fresh ideas to boot. Full Review »