Hands On With Ketsui: Death Label (Sort Of)

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How do you “sort of” play a game? You play a demo that barely resembles the final product. A Ketsui: Death Label demo popped up on Japan’s Nintendo Channel. I eagerly downloaded it hoping to clear at least part of one stage before Arika’s Nintendo DS adaptation comes out later this week. Unfortunately, the “demo” is an endless boss fight against Doom.

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You start by picking a ship. Either the AH-Y72 which lock’s on fast and has a spread shot or the FH-X4 which moves fast and has a straight shot. The decision is really move fast or lock on fast with your flying gunpods. Ketsui’s unique system gives your ship four tiny ships which lock on and continue to fire shots while you focus on dodging. Just hold the B button and watch the bullets fly. However, you are rewarded for blasting bosses with your main laser. The flashing laser does more damage than the gunpods alone and you’re rewarded with point multipliers.


The demo gives you five lives and three bombs per life to fight Doom with. The EVAC ship explodes with bursts of spheres and curved bullets to dodge. Lose all your lives and it’s game over, but Ketsui: Death Label has an interesting feature. If you get hit you automatically use up your remaining bomb stock. This lets you dodge a hit since bombs clear all of the bullets on the screen. Essentially you have ten hits to take Doom down and if you succeed you’re rewarded with a 1up.


Arika released a demo like this before way early in development. Since I’m not sure if this is an old demo or a revised demo specifically for the Nintendo Channel I can’t really make a fair judgment about Ketsui: Death Label since this demo may not even be represent the final game. At the least the demo does a fantastic job of keeping everything motion and Ketsui: Death Label keeps a steady frame rate even though the screen is littered with bullets to dodge. However, the screen is obviously cramped since Arika doesn’t use the dual screens to make one long vertical shooter. The top screen has the action and the bottom screen shows vital information like your score.


Images courtesy of Arika.

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