Bargain Gaming – Devil Kings

Posted on Feb 03 2011

As of late I stumbled across a strange title at my local gaming store called Devil Kings. Now, I had never heard of Devil Kings before, nor did I know anything about it whatsoever. But something about the character designs featured on the cover struck me. It was as if I had seen them somewhere before but no matter what I did I just couldn’t remember where from. Well, it was only six dollars and my interest had certainly been piqued by this odd sensation, so I picked it up, stuck it in my PS2 and never looked back. And I’m glad I did, because otherwise I never would’ve discovered the joy that is Sengoku Basara.

Now, you’re probably wondering what the hell Sengoku Basara is and what it has to do with Devil Kings. Well it turns out that Devil Kings is the Americanized version of Sengoku Basara, which is a popular hack and slash game reminiscent of Dynasty Warriors. And by reminiscent I mean that much as how Dynasty Warriors is based off a loose interpretation of the historical events that took place in China, Sengoku Basara does the same thing for Japanese history, albeit taking the historical parts a bit more loosely than its more widely known cousin. It is a very popular game in Japan, to the point where it’s spawned several sequels and has even had an anime series based off of the games released as of late.

The problem was that the American localization team didn’t think that American audiences would appreciate the Japanese historical influences in the game. As such they did their utmost to remove them, resetting the game in a generic fantasy world and, at the same time, removing a lot of the game’s personality. The game was renamed Devil Kings in order to reflect the grittier feel they were aiming for in order to appeal to the American market, with Oda Nobunaga becoming the so called Devil King himself. Thus what we got in America was a skin and bones version of the original, lacking the original feel, story, and even some of the content that was available in the Japanese version.

They also ramped up the difficulty for the “hardcore American audience”, turning normal mode into our easy mode, hard mode into our normal mode, and adding a new, even more difficult hard mode to the game. While this wasn’t a bad thing for those hardcore gamers out there, it made the game practically inaccessible to the casual gaming market. The amount of time and effort needed to progress at the higher difficulty levels is incredibly intense, due in part to the lack of continues throughout the stages. If you die at any point during the long and strenuous missions, you have to start the whole mission over, which can be frustrating as the hardest part of the stage is often at the very end.

While not all of the localization team’s meddling was harmful (they did add an element called priming, which let you create ridiculous combos), it’s a shame they did so much to sanitize the game for America, as the game is still enjoyable, if imperfect, despite all of this. There’s just something incredible cathartic about ripping through hordes of soldiers with a variety of different weapons and special attacks before engaging the enemy general in a fight to the death!

And when I say variety, I mean it. Each of twelve starting characters has their own take on their attack patterns and strategies, lending the game tremendous replay value. Getting tired of dicing up the enemy with your lightning katanas as the One Eyed Dragon? Switch over to the Red Minotaur and blast them with fireballs before crushing them with your giant axe! Tired of shooting them with pistols as Lady Butterfly? Switch over the Devil King and blast them with your shotgun! The amount of variation is staggering, especially when compared to games like Dynasty Warriors where you have forty different characters that all play the same.

So the game play is both satisfying and enjoyable, while still offering a high level of replayability. But we’re not done yet. The game is also chock full of both CG and animated cut scenes for your viewing pleasure, and even without a story to explain them they’re still great fun to watch and a nice reward for progressing through the campaign mode. Add in a solid musical score and you have the first hack and slash style game that I can remember truly enjoying in years. Unfortunately, this only serves to make me wonder what it could’ve amounted to if the localization team had just left well enough alone.

Regardless, it’s still a fun game, and with the amount of content available to the dedicated gamer I have to recommend it to anyone out there that enjoys a good hack and slash game and is looking for something different. And if you’re intrigued by the premise of a Japanese version of Dynasty Warriors keep an eye out for the latest installment, Sengoku Basara: Samurai Heroes, which is the first installment of the series since Devil Kings to be released in America. Released for the PS3 and Wii gaming systems, it looks like they’ve decided to keep the Japanese bits in this time, so it’ll be interesting to see how well it does in America as compared to its predecessor.

I’d like to end this review by mentioning that it turned out that I actually recognized the characters on the front of game from watching the Sengoku Basara anime on Funimation’s Youtube page previously. I didn’t make the connection at the time because of the different names and art styles in play, but in retrospect it seems incredibly obvious. For those of you anime fans on the site I strongly urge you to go check it out. It’s an awesome action series with a lot of fun characters and incredibly enjoyable (if a bit over the top) fight scenes. And to top it all off you can see the entire first season for free on Youtube right now, so you have no excuse not to take a look! Just go to Funimation’s page and check it out. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go listen to the opening song, JAP by the Abingdon Boys School, for the fifty millionth time.


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  • Jubilee February 3, 2011 at 12:48 PM

    Great first article! : D

    I enjoyed it…and look forward to more. ^-^

  • Gannon133 February 3, 2011 at 1:15 PM

    Wow, I like this article. If I have a PS2, I would try to find this game, but sadly I don’t have one. But that doesn’t stop me from watching the anime counterpart of it xD. Can’t wait to see more from you.

  • EagleEyes February 3, 2011 at 1:21 PM

    Welcome to the team! A great inclusion!

  • nerdwerld February 3, 2011 at 2:49 PM

    Devil Kings is an awesome game! Though I’m a history buff its not at all historical accurate. Though in America they tried to revamp it as something that isn’t Japanese history into a more commercial acceptable things.

  • drewid February 3, 2011 at 3:05 PM

    I had this a couple years ago but a friend borrowed it and lost it. I really liked this game. Had interesting characters and lots of cool attacks. Wonder if i can find it again at a good price lol

  • Bargain Gamer February 3, 2011 at 6:03 PM

    Thanks for the feedback guys! I really appreciate it! ^ ^

    @drewid: well, I managed to pick it up for about $6, so if you can find it… ;P

    • drewid February 3, 2011 at 6:43 PM

      literally right after i commented i found it on amazon for a dollar + $4 shipping so i ordered it 😀

      • Bargain Gamer February 3, 2011 at 7:39 PM

        That…. is AWESOME!!! *is pumped*

  • Kanashimi February 3, 2011 at 9:36 PM

    Sorta curious if we’ll see other consoles in the future. Don’t get me wrong, the PS2 has a great array of games and such a huge library that you could just take games from the console and be set for a long time.

    Either way, I liked it and can’t wait to see more.

  • mollybibbles February 4, 2011 at 6:14 AM

    Congratulations on the first feature and welcome to our team! This was a great read despite the fact I don’t really play video games anymore. I’m interested to see what you’ll be playing next 😀

  • mahay February 4, 2011 at 6:41 AM

    Nice, seems like something I could play when I got bored with other things

  • Bargain Gamer February 4, 2011 at 5:20 PM


    Sorta curious if we’ll see other consoles in the future. Don’t get me wrong, the PS2 has a great array of games and such a huge library that you could just take games from the console and be set for a long time.

    Either way, I liked it and can’t wait to see more.

    I actually have already considered this and the next two reviews will be for the PSP and DS respectively. But yes, if I wanted to I could certainly stick to the PS2 for a long… long time. ^ ^;

  • Gunzy February 6, 2011 at 8:43 AM

    I got this game for the PS2 but never got a chance to play it. I might give it a go now.

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