DoinkSoft And Devolver Digital’s NES-Inspired Shooter Demon Throttle Brings The Heat To PAX East
Developed by indie outfit Doinksoft, Demon Throttle is a love letter to classic NES shoot-’em-ups such as Capcom’s Gun.Smoke and SNK’s Ikari Warriors. Featuring lo-fi visuals that would have looked right at home on Nintendo’s 8-bit hardware, it stars two playable protagonists, a gunslinger and a vampiress, as they blast their way through hordes of evil creatures to exact bloody revenge against a demon that slept with his estranged wife and stole her chalices – the nerve!
Like many of the games of the era it aims to emulate, Demon Throttle is tough as nails. The screen automatically scrolls upward, and you’ll need to mow down waves of monsters who want nothing more than to reduce you to twitching pixels. The demon’s army is relentless, and you’ll often be fending off attacks from a half dozen pixelated cyclopses, yetis, and more at any given time. Thankfully, the game gives you a few handy tools to help even the odds.
Armed with a six-gun, the Gunslinger fires shots in a straight line directly ahead of him. Meanwhile, the Vampiress packs a crossbow that unleashes a less-powerful spread shot that’s great for crowd control. Blasting bushes and other obstacles reveals sub-weapons such as bundles of dynamite that the Gunslinger can lob at enemies perched on high ground, while the Vampiress can conjure flying knives that seek and destroy the demon horde. In addition to these trusty tools of the trade, you’ll also find power-ups to increase your speed, restore your health, and even cause a spiked ball to spin around your character and clobber anything unfortunate enough to cross their path.
One of Demon Throttle‘s most interesting mechanics is that you actually play as both characters at once (at least in the game’s single-player mode). Both the Gunslinger and Vampiress have their own inventories, health bars, and experience pools, so you’ll need to swap between characters often to collect power-ups or level them up to bolster their health, ammo, and damage output.
This sounds simple enough, but juggling between the game’s dual protagonists can become pretty frantic when the screen is teeming with enemies, bullets, and other hazards. Add to that the fact you only get one life before you’re punted to the game over screen, and it’s clear this is a game you’re going to need to put some serious time into if you want to make it to the ending credits.
I got the chance to experience two stages during my time with the game. The first was a vibrant grassland battlefield dotted with fortresses. Goblins would rain fire from the ramparts, and all sorts of bugs, beasties, and other demonic creatures would attack from every angle. Despite being a forced-scroller, you can find alternate paths throughout the stage by blasting the doors off structures, which usually yields helpful power-ups or a safer route through the stage or cover from enemy fire. It even featured a bit of platforming over pools of water, as when you’re submerged in the drink, you’re unable to return fire.
This opening segment ended with a fight against a massive demon general whose attack patterns transformed Demon Throttle into a bullet hell shooter, forcing you to weave through dense curtains of fire while getting in potshots whenever you can. To damage the general, you first have to knock out his fists, which attempt to smash you while peppering the stage with bullets. Once his arms are dispatched, you can finally smack him in the face until he’s stunned, which is your opportunity to unload with your most powerful weaponry. In true old-school fashion, the action only gets faster as his health is depleted so you’ll need to stay on your toes to finish him off.
Demon Throttle‘s second stage rips the training wheels off, upping the ante with various environmental hazards to contend with. It’s a snowy environment where gusts of wind and snow push you around, and icy platforms lay the groundwork for a slippery shootout of epic proportions.
Finally, it caps off with a high-energy showdown with a horned menace straight from Norse mythology. While I gave it my all, it didn’t take long before I was utterly overwhelmed by volleys of pulsing projectiles.
Overall, Demon Throttle made a strong first impression on me during the half-hour I spent with the game at PAX East. With blisteringly-fast gameplay and the kind of attention to detail that will make anyone who cut their teeth on the NES gush with nostalgia (just wait until you hear the game’s awesome, Bayou Billy-esque digitized voice samples in the cutscenes), it’s a game no retro-minded player can afford to miss when it arrives exclusively as a physical Nintendo Switch release later this year.
So, are you looking forward to getting your hands on Demon Throttle? If so, be sure to sound off in the comments and let us know.