Demons of Asteborg is quite obviously the product of some kind of satanic ritual to the dark lord of 16-Bit. Originally released as a Mega Drive title in 2019 this game has now found its way to digital platforms in the current-gen.
You play as a knight for the Kingdom of Asteborg called Gareth, a horrific demon called Zadimus and his army of horrors is laying waste to the kingdom and it’s down to you to put him down and save the day.
There are a decent amount of dialogue scenes especially when you compare it to games of the game where it was usually an intro and an ending, I enjoyed the story but it didn’t set the world alight and nor did I expect it to.
Visually I refuse to believe that this game can run on a Mega Drive, despite the fact I’ve seen the thing running on the console I can only assume witchcraft.
There are insane levels of parallax scrolling going on and the sprite work is simply the highest tier for the console, so well drawn and beautifully animated across the board it’s a solid reminder of how good 16 bit looked and can still look today.
Stage design is wonderfully varied and the boss designs are naturally quite a high point. Some parts of the title are quite grotesque and it fits in with titles such as Castlevania and Ghosts n Ghouls.
I just want to point out that there are points in the game where it becomes a rail shooter with the graphical style of Space Harrier and god damn is this not only impressive in general but also when you think about the restrictions of the Mega Drive.
The soundtrack my god makes use of that blast processing and provides you with the purest of earworms to have your toes tapping and mouth humming for a while after you’ve turned the game off.
Demons of Asteborg is a 2D platformer with exploration elements, think of it like Ghosts n Goblins with light Metroid elements.
The game is set across levels rather than a giant sprawling world and there are stores you can visit between levels to stock up on health and other items to see you through.
As mentioned before there are some places where the game does a Space Harrier impression and becomes a rail shooter which still impresses me to no end.
Combat is a basic affair with one attack button which produces a standard combo, there is also a dodge button that makes you roll out of the way with the standard i-frames.
Each stage gives you some magic to find and use examples being a projectile, a spell to slow down time and possession of enemies. While these are great additions, puzzlingly they only last on the level you are on so not only do you know the level is built around them if you like the spell you won’t be seeing it again.
The bosses usually have a gimmick to them and it’s equally fun as it is infuriating to figure out and defeat them. The difficulty can get quite tough in places but I never found it unmanageable with a generous checkpoint system.
I love Demons of Asteborg, it’s amazing that not only does the game exist but that it runs on legit hardware and pushes it to the extreme.
While I played it on Nintendo Switch it’s easy to appreciate just what the developers have created and the fact I get to experience this without having to source a Mega Drive then the cart is frankly awesome and more retro developers should do it.
If you didn’t know better you’d have assumed it was an all time Mega Drive classic from the 90s.
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