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 1, calling it Dezaemon Plus. The two titles are so similar, with only one significant modification for the PS1, that it's best to examine them together. The SFC 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 SFC and PS1 versions, which improves things as you would expect. The one downside is that both the SFC and PS1 releases are still vertical oriented only - though as we'll show, there is a crude workaround for this on the PS1.
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 PS1 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 SFC 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.
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.
In being updated for the PS1 there were some changes. Firstly, the SFC'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 PS1, 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 SFC 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 PS1 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 SFC version, the PS1 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 PS1 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 SFC version of Daioh Gale before it became Revision 2, and the second game is a short two-stage shooter called Omake Power Storm.
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 PS1 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 PS1 Mouse control, we were unable to get the PS3 to recognise a USB mouse while in PS1 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.