Deathsmiles will be Cave's second foray onto Steam. Their first title on the digital distribution service was Mushihimesama ("Bug Princess"). Mushihimesama is also a shoot 'em up although it is uses a top-down perspective as opposed to the side perspective used in Deathsmiles and also originally an arcade title.
Deathsmiles was initially launched as an arcade game in Japan in 2007. It was later ported to Xbox 360 in 2009, iOS in 2011, and Android in 2013. Aksys Games localized the Xbox 360 version of the game for America in 2010 and Rising Star Games brought the title to Europe in 2011.
The gameplay in Deathsmiles is a bit different to most shoot 'em ups in several ways. Typically, shoot 'em ups have a tiny hitbox where you take damage if one of the great number of projectiles on screen hits you - this hitbox is represented by an oversized, glowing heart. Furthermore, while most shoot 'em ups typically afford the player a very limited amount of hits based on a life system, Deathsmiles instead makes use of a sort of lifebar system. You lose one heart for taking a direct hit from an enemy bullet and half a heart if you are hit by a non-bullet attack or touch one of the enemies.
Cave as a company almost exclusively produces shoot 'em ups and has been doing so since the mid '90s. Cave was initially started in Tokyo with JPY15,000,000 in start-up costs and the company holds a Guinness World Record for "Most prolific developer of danmaku ("bullet curtain", a.k.a. bullet hell) shooters".
Are you a fan of shoot 'em ups? What do you think of the lifebar in Deathsmiles as opposed to the typical "one hit and you're dead" style of other games in the genre? Let us know in the comments below!