Majyuuou was one of the few ventures by anime company KSS into the world of videogames and it’s a pity because it’s a fantastic game. Released only in Japan for the SNES it has become something of a rarity and now commands silly money on eBay. It’s a bit of a shame because Majyuuou is one of the real obscure greats on the system. A fan translation of the game is available from Aeon Genesis which translates the title to King of Demons.
Majyuuou is an action platformer sort of in the vein of Castlevania. Abel, the main character, has been betrayed by his friend Bayer who has killed his wife and kidnapped his daughter to resurrect the king of the demons. The game is already darker than most SNES games and it’s only just beginning! You begin the game as a human with a handgun and a charge up hadouken type attack. However after defeating certain bosses you are given the option of picking up a coloured jewel. The colour of the jewel when you pick it up will decide which of three demon forms you will take. Each of the three demon forms will have different offensive abilities and control differently from each other. You can also elect to stay in your human form. Using the same demon form throughout the game will power up the demon you are using. However picking all three different demon forms during the course of the game gives you access to the ultimate form of demon for the final stage and allows you to see the best ending.
Majyuuou’s big standout feature is the dark atmosphere of the game and the quite frankly gorgeous demonic art and design throughout the game. If Shin Megami Tensei was an action game I’d imagine it would look something like this. This is quite simply one of the best looking games ever made as you can well see from the screenshots. Mode 7 and transparency effects aren’t used in an over the top manner as in the majority of SNES games but have been subtly applied to backdrops and creatures, such as the worm monster in the first stage made even more gruesome by the use of pulsating Mode 7 effects. The attention to detail in the visuals should also be commended. Kill a dragon boss in one stage and as you walk past you’ll climb over the skeleton of the slain dragon. Some of these incidental details are fairly creepy and deranged. Some of the pixie type enemies when killed can be eaten to refill health by pressing down over their corpses and in one stage you’ll come across two dog headed demons beating a crucified girl to death, very weird and disturbing.
Majyuuou is definitely a game you should check out. The visuals are gorgeous, it plays great and has some epic boss fights. The game is perfectly playable in Japanese although I’d recommend the fan translation from aeon genesis which will help you understand the story and in particular the two endings that are quite depressing and not what you would expect. Majyuuou is a bit on the easy side and therefore quite short but the excellent playability, atmosphere and art make it a very worthwhile experience and a must play for SNES fans.