<div class=header> <div class=headerrow> <div class=headercell> <div class=headerlogo> <p class=image><a href="http://www.hardcoregaming101.net" target="_parent"><img src="http://www.hardcoregaming101.net/logo/hg101logo.png" alt="Logo by MP83"></a></p> </div> <div class=headerad> <script type="text/javascript"><!-- google_ad_client = "pub-5230184257141993"; /* HG101 */ google_ad_slot = "4961941287"; google_ad_width = 728; google_ad_height = 90; //--> </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://pagead2.googlesyndication.com/pagead/show_ads.js"> </script> </div> </div> </div> <div class=headerrow> <div class=headercell> <div class=headermenu> <a href="http://www.hardcoregaming101.net/alpha.htm" target="_parent">Articles</a> | <a href="http://www.hardcoregaming101.net/features.htm" target="_parent">Features</a> | <a href="http://www.hardcoregaming101.net/books.htm" target="_parent">Books</a> | <a href="http://blog.hardcoregaming101.net" target="_parent">Blog</a> | <a href="http://hg101.proboards.com/" target="_parent">Forums</a> | <a href="http://www.hardcoregaming101.net/about.htm" target="_parent">About</a>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;<a href="http://www.facebook.com/pages/Hardcore-Gaming-101/109837535712670" target="_blank"><img alt=" " src="http://www.hardcoregaming101.net/facebook.png"></a>&nbsp;&nbsp;<a href="http://twitter.com/HG_101" target="_blank"><img alt=" " src="http://www.hardcoregaming101.net/twitter.png"></a>&nbsp;&nbsp;<a href="http://ask.fm/hg_101" target="_blank"><img alt=" " src="http://www.hardcoregaming101.net/askfm.png"></a>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;<a href="http://www.patreon.com/hg101" target="_blank"><img src="http://www.hardcoregaming101.net/supportsmalla.png"></a> </div> <div class=searchbox> <form action="http://www.google.com/cse" id="cse-search-box" target="_parent"> <div> <input type="hidden" name="cx" value="partner-pub-5230184257141993:xfg3mydy24k"> <input type="hidden" name="ie" value="ISO-8859-1"> <input type="text" name="q" size="30"> <input type="submit" name="sa" value="Search"> </div> </form> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://www.google.com/coop/cse/brand?form=cse-search-box&amp;lang=en"></script> </div> </div> </div> </div>

Dezaemon

<<< Prior Page

Next Page >>>

Page 1:
Dezaemon (FC)
Dezaemon / Dezaemon Plus

Page 2:
Dezaemon 2

Page 3:
Dezaemon 3D
Dezaemon Kids

Back to the Index


by John Szczepaniak - April 25, 2011

From the moment video games were commercially available it is indisputable that players dreamed of making their own. From the early 1980s, once technology allowed it, there were games which featured built-in level editors and also numerous dedicated 'game creation' titles - all of which continue in popularity today.

One of the earliest, if not the first, was Pinball Construction Set (1983) for home computers, by Bill Budge. Later there was Adventure Construction Set (1984), Adventure Creator (1984), and Graphic Adventure Creator (1985), all by different people for different systems. Continuing the adventure theme, in 1988 ASCII released Mamirin on PC-8801, which would later evolve into their RPG Maker series, which saw Western release on the PlayStation. For shmup fans there was Shoot'Em-up Construction Kit (SEUCK) released in 1987 for Commodore 64, Amiga and Atari ST, by Sensible Software. Plus it seems like every fifth Famicom/NES game had some kind of editor in it, from Excitebike to Nuts & Milk.

Fast forward to today and we have Kenta Cho's Blast Works on Wii, which allows users to design their own levels and enemies based on Tumiki Fighters. While games such as Little Big Planet continue the trend of user-created content. For computer users there's also ever-diversifying software to get your creative fix, from Gamer Maker through to Minecraft.

One respected series which never left Japan though, until now, was Athena's Dezaemon. It was, much like SEUCK, a shmup development tool - with later releases proving extremely versatile, and allowing users to move (slightly) beyond the genre. With the recent American PSN release of Dezaemon Plus by Monkey Paw Games, it's about time the entire catalogue was covered.

Due to the massive length of this feature, we'll feature the links and thanks first. The following are all worth checking out, and in varying ways helped with our research.

The Heart of Dark


Game Designer Yusei Soft - Dezaemon ((デームデザイナー養成ソフト「絵描衛門(デザエモン))) - Famicom (1991)

Japanese Famicom Cover

Athena's first Dezaemon was released on September 13th 1991, well over halfway into the Famicom's life cycle. It was priced at Y9800, one of the most expensive titles released that year, with only two other games eclipsing it - one of which was an epic Nobunaga strategy RPG. To put this into context, that year's popular Rockman 4 was only Y7800. Many other games were even less, meaning Dezaemon was nearly double the price of some games. It came on an oversized cartridge in an oversized box, and promised limitless replay value as players could design their own shooters, comprising three stages, complete with custom background, enemies, bosses and music.

Except, in the context of prior creation software, not to mention other shooters available at the time and its pricing, it was a fairly awful start for the series. Konami's phenomenal vertical shooter Crisis Force was released just one month prior on the Famicom, priced at only Y6000, and stands as one of the best shooters for the system. Anyone hoping to recreate something similar would have been extremely disappointed, since you'd struggle even to replicate Tecmo's Star Force (1985) using the first Dezaemon.

It's clear that the original Dezaemon was crippled by antiquated hardware. Though considering how commercial developers complained about the difficulty of making games for the Famicom, it's still kind of miraculous what Dezaemon achieves. You have three stages to play around with, and are able to create a scrolling background for each based on 16 customisable tiles. The catch is you're limited to only three colours (a palette) for each of these tiles, with up to a maximum of three palettes for all of them (one colour in each palette is always black/transparent). This means drab background designs and no parallax. Also, it only supports vertical shooter creation, not horizontal, so put thoughts of Gradius out of your mind. The reason for omitting horizontal shooters is baffling, since Gradius and its sequel had been popular on the Famicom - sadly it would take a further three instalments for the series to go hori.

For enemies in each level you can create four single-tile enemies with four animation frames each, one 2x2 tile enemy without animation, and one 3x3 tile boss. With a little effort the single-tile enemies can be placed on the scrolling background in a way that implies a larger spaceship. Simple formations are possible through tweaking numerical stats. Your ship is one tile and has left/right animations, while weapons are pre-defined (three varieties, plus options, each twice stackable). You can customise weapon visuals, power-up icons and explosions.

The graphics editor is reasonable: you can mirror sprites both vertically and horizontally, plus rotate at 90 degree increments, but it's still incredibly cumbersome to use. There's also a basic music maker. Due to the outdated nature of the hardware you'll really struggle to create anything decent, leaving the original Dezaemon as little more than a good history teacher on the Famicom's limitations and what real developers had to deal with. Suddenly Crisis Force seems even more incredible, doesn't it?

The coup de grace though is that Dezaemon also uses some kind of bizarre S-RAM set-up, and none of the NES emulators we tested were able to run the [!] ROM without corrupting all save data after exiting each design section. The fact that not one but two translation patches were made is baffling, since the game is absolutely useless without its save function. You can play the Sample Game (EDIT), but being made with Dezaemon's limited toolset it's extremely boring - they didn't even bother giving it a proper name!

The emulator problems are unfortunate, since some Japanese owners were able to do reasonably interesting things with it, as noted by Lynx Atari Fight, which sees a Lynx handheld scaling Nintendo's office building and later fighting Space Invaders. A video of its creation is HERE.

Quick Info:

Developer:

Publisher:

Genre:

Themes:


Dezaemon (Famicom)

Dezaemon (Famicom)

Dezaemon (Famicom)

Dezaemon (Famicom)


View all "Dezaemon" items on eBay

Additional Screenshots


Dezaemon (デザエモン) / Dezaemon Plus (デザエモンプラス) - SNES (1994), PlayStation (1996)

Japanese Super Famicom Cover

Japanese PlayStation Cover

It would be another three years before Athena released a sequel on the Super Famicom, called simply Dezaemon again. Two years after this they released a slightly updated version for the PlayStation, calling it Dezaemon Plus. The two titles are so similar, with only one significant modification for the PlayStation, that it's best to examine them together. The Super Famicom game was fan-translated, but really you needn't bother altering your ROM when there's so little Japanese text to begin with, and there are decent online guides explaining everything. In Japan Athena released a guide book explaining how to make best use of Deazaemon Plus, titled: Super explanation! Dezaemon PLUS 7 Days Master Technique. (超解説!デザエモン+(PLUS)7daysマスター術)

The improvements over the original are phenomenal, with more colours, more animation, a more streamlined and versatile graphics editor, more memory to create things, hugely overhauled music editor with a wide selection of instruments and, best of all, plenty of pre-made graphics to play around with. For anyone who used Mario Paint (1992) on the SNES, both the graphics and music editors should seem very familiar. You can also use a mouse on both the Super Famicom and PlayStation versions, which improves things as you would expect. The one downside is that both the Super Famicom and PlayStation releases are still vertical oriented only - though as we'll show, there is a crude workaround for this on the PlayStation.

You can customize your fighter with three frames of animation (left, middle, right), along with the graphics for the six pre-defined weapons and shields plus their power-up icons. This is probably the game's only other big weakness, since you're still shackled to Athena's pre-conceived notions of what constitutes standard weapons. With only a limited number it can lead to different games feeling mechanically the same, unless the author has put major effort into the environments and enemies. On the plus side you're at least given power bombs this time round - though they're again pre-defined and based on whatever the current held main weapon is. You can also define two varieties of enemy projectiles, plus small and large explosions.

Enemies themselves are expanded and for each level you can create 16 varieties of single tile enemies (4 animation frames) and two-tile enemies (vertical or horizontal, 2 frames). You can also create eight varieties of 2x2 tile enemies (2 frames) and four varieties of 3x3 tile enemies (1 frame). Each enemy can be attributed one of 20 different movement patterns, with eight selectable speeds, along with one of 20 firing patterns and eight speeds of firing. The clever thing here is that you can set any enemy to be an enemy generator, firing not projectiles but instead another enemy with its own design, movement and firing type. The sample game Daioh Gale doesn't do a good job of showing the potential of all this, and neither do the competition entries in the PlayStation game, but with clever tinkering you can set up some epic enemy formations. Forget danmaku, how about zakomaku? All enemies can also be given power ups to drop along with a specific damage strength and points scored.

Bosses meanwhile are made from 32 tiles (4x8), in either horizontal or vertical format. Each can be given three basic movement patterns, along with speeds, plus firing patterns. It's a fairly restrictive system until you start playing around with enemy generation, in which case the bosses can prove quite formidable. Enemies and bosses are placed on the scrolling map-conveyor-belt, and can be introduced with a variety of screen warping special effects. The maps themselves can only be placed in pre-made horizontal bars, so while you can draw them down to the last customised pixel, you're forced to do some clever jigsaw placement with the resulting horizontal sections. After this all that's left is to choose music for each aspect of the game, from the title screen and stages through to Game Over.

Dezaemon Super Famicom Satellaview

One of the most intriguing connections to the Dezaemon series are a group of what appear to be - possibly - titles for the Satellaview add-on. Due to the system having long since closed, and the transient nature of its Japan-only content, very little is known about these. Most information has come from NicoNico users who have uploaded personal videos. One of YouTube's Satellaview experts, Kiddocabbusses, explained what he knew:

Looking at various Satellaview news archives, there appear to have been a few stand-alone Dezaemon games put up for download that could be played via BS-X. A concept similar in style is the 'JEWEL OF LIVE' video which I actually recorded from a ROM dump Matthew Callis released a bit ago. That one was a game made in RPG Tsukuru SUPER DANTE.

Three videos were uploaded to NicoNicoDouga with the 'Satellaview' tag which were the footage of these Dezaemon games and, well, one of them even stars Satebou as the player! So I believe these were three of the releases in question - I do not know if I got them all. Most of the references to Dezaemons on Satellaview I see refer to 'BS-X Shooting', which is likely the Satebou-starring one, and 'Sugoi Shooting', which could be one of the other two, or neither of them.

The Collective on NND is coined the 'Satellaview Shooting Trilogy'. Not sure if that's an official title or not.

BS-X Shooting
Sugoi STG
Crystal Guardian
Crystal Guardian's soundtrack

For more info on these games, and the Satellaview in general, it's worth checking out Kiddo's SFC blog. If you have trouble viewing the NicoNico videos due to not having an account, you can use NicoVideoFire to bypass their security.

PlayStation changes

In being updated for the PlayStation there were some changes. Firstly, the Super Famicom's six available levels have been downgraded to only five, though with the improvements everywhere else this isn't a problem - it's a nice round number anyway. As a result the sample game on the PlayStation, Daioh Gale Rev2, is now a bit shorter. There were also subtle changes to power-up appearances and weapon firing, altering game balance. The music editor was also altered, with a lot of sounds being resampled.

The most significant change though is the ability to scale the size of sprites and rotate them, for spectacular results. This is also the aspect which makes the Super Famicom game redundant, since there are so many possibilities once you allow for sprite manipulation. Any enemy sprite can be set to rotate in a specific manner at a certain speed, as well as change size - two sizes smaller than standard, and three sizes larger for a total of six. The effect this has is most noticeable in Daioh Gale's sky stage, where on PlayStation massive clouds expand over the player's ship. Enemies can be made to shrink, expand, and vary between the two depending on screen proximity and a timer, allowing for some versatile effects. There seems to be no limit to the number of sprites either, and it's quite possible to flood the screen completely. Collision detection can also be removed, thereby making them harmless, and it can be set so the player's ship appears either above or beneath the sprite (in this way it's possible to create an effect of the ship passing beneath bridges and such).

With Athena running a series of competitions for the Super Famicom version, the PlayStation game also offers a selection of the better entries: 9 playable games plus a few videos of non-playable entries. Unfortunately only a couple of them attempt anything really interesting and, bear in mind, they were based on the earlier SFC version which lacked sprite manipulation. Still, despite their simplicity, it does mean there are 10 immediately playable shooters on one disc.

Finally, two hidden sample games can be unlocked in the PlayStation version. When accessing the Sample Game icon (top icon) hold either L1 or L2 to load one of the two games. The first is the Super Famicom version of Daioh Galem before it became Revision 2, and the second game is a short two-stage shooter called Omake Power Storm.

PSN re-release

In 2008 in Japan and 2010 in the US Dezaemon Plus was re-released on PSN. In the latter's case it was published by Monkey Paw Games, retailing for $5.99 as a download. They also rather handily made an English language guide, which proves more than adequate.

What's excellent about the PSN release, besides the fact that it marks the first time a Dezaemon has officially reached the west, is that trading your creations is now extremely easy. Not only can you create an infinite number of virtual PlayStation memory cards on the PS3, but a simple USB key will allow you to back-up the save file and distribute it online, without need to tinker with Dexdrives.

The one negative is that while the game supports PlayStation Mouse control, we were unable to get the PS3 to recognise a USB mouse while in PlayStation mode. The PS3 will work with a USB Mouse, and it's possible to scroll through icons and even load up Dezaemon Plus, but once loaded it ceases to recognise the mouse and no amount of tweaking controller options was able to rectify the problem - if there is a workaround for this, email us at the usual address, or post in the forum feedback topic.

Quick Info:

Developer:

Publisher:

Genre:

Themes:


Dezaemon (Super Famicom)

Dezaemon (Super Famicom)

Dezaemon (Super Famicom)

Dezaemon (Super Famicom)

Satellaview

Dezaemon Plus (PlayStation)

Dezaemon Plus (PlayStation)

Power Storm (PlayStation)


View all "Dezaemon Plus" items on eBay

HG101's side-scroller - and now, a word from our author

Not put off by the restrictions of a vertical only system, I was determined to create a horizontal shooter. The trick to making it was clever use of enemy generators and sprite enlargement. It's official name: Hori.

To achieve the illusion of horizontal movement I went with a blank background so you don't see the vertical scrolling. Then I placed a series of invisible enemies along the far right of the screen, moving down and firing horizontally. Because they're on the far right you shouldn't notice that they're firing in both horizontal directions. Instead it gives the illusion of a star field. I also placed a few enemies shooting fireballs. I used the graphics editor to rotate a pre-made enemy, making them appear horizontal, and I did the same with the main ship and the boss. So all in all it gives the impressions of flying along horizontally.

I also started work on an incomplete second stage featuring harmless clouds, again spawning from a line of invisible enemies along the right side. I tweaked the movement and firing speed of the spawners so they fired only at the bottom of the screen. Then I had the enemies which they spawned undergo enlargement and fly horizontally. There's only about three horizontal flight patterns to choose for enemies, and none of them fly precisely straight, so it took a while to get a seamless run of clouds. Next I set some cloud enemies to spawn on their own near the top and, here's the clever bit, had them spawn further clouds which homed in on the player. Since most players hang by the left side of the screen, this would most of the time create the illusion of harmless clouds floating to the left.

Apologies for the poor screenshots, the game was created on the PSN release of Dezaemon and we were unable to convert the save file to a format useable by emulators. The save file, in case you want to tweak your own horizontal shooter, can be downloaded HERE, while you can read more about the game on HG101's blog.

Hori

Hori


Daioh

It's worth briefly mentioning Daioh separately, since the first was an Athena arcade shooter released in 1993. Daioh Gale is a kind of semi-follow-up, superseded by Revision 2 in Plus and then by Daioh-P on the Saturn, which is kind of a pseudo-polygon remake. Connected to it are the Shienryu games, developed by ex-Athena staff at Warashi. The entire disjointed family of games deserves their own HG101 article, which will be forthcoming in the future.

Daioh (Arcade)


<<< Prior Page

Next Page >>>

Page 1:
Dezaemon (FC)
Dezaemon / Dezaemon Plus

Page 2:
Dezaemon 2

Page 3:
Dezaemon 3D
Dezaemon Kids

Back to the Index