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Ketsui Death Label

version: jp - year: 2008 - developer: cave - publisher: arika - format: nintendo ds, cartridge - condition: mint - rarity: hard to find

Includes a humbling super play dvd...


Ketsui Death Label starts out nice and slow. It's possible to beat the first 5 bosses in Death Label Mode just by using smart bombs if you know when to detonate them.


a long and tough boss fight against Evaccaneer...


...before you get to fight Doom which is normally tough and gets even tougher in Doom Mode and Extra Mode.


Review - Not a straight port of Cave 2003 coin op, but rather a boss rush mode, Ketsui Death Label for DS is the ideal game to play even when you have 5 minutes.

There are about 9 difficulty levels, some of which are unlocked only upon finishing the previous one. Let’s just say that until the "Hard C" difficulty level, things are manageable but from "Very Hard" onward, things will quickly start to heat up until you get to the brutal escalation of difficulty of "Death Label" mode. Finishing that mode will take a lot of practice and patience.

Luckily, you can earn up to 19 ships if you play it enough times and if you learn to use your smart bombs wisely, you should eventually make it. Why do I make such a point in beating the Death Label mode?

Well, I really think that in the programmers’ mind, this mode really represents the difficulty level at which you should play given the Death Label appendix of this Nintendo DS port. Moreover and more importantly, it will unlock Extra Mode which is actually based on Level 5 of the original Ketsui coin-op. That’s right so it won’t technically be “just” a boss fight but you’ll be playing through a scrolling level with a stock of only 2 ships!

Extra Mode is insanely difficult but it’s a great reward for completing the uber hard Death Label Mode. Moreover, if you manage to survive it for long enough, mid-way through the level, the scrolling will go backwards, Recca-style!

Don’t get overly excited now, because to be able to get to this point, it takes a lot of effort and luck... Interestingly, the Playstation 2 port of Ketsui was apparently dropped when it was almost completed because the programmers could not replicate flawlessly the part of the level in which the scrolling goes backwards because of RAM-related constraints.... That same level which is instead included in this DS port! Go figure....

Anyways, Ketsui Death Label is a solid shooter with beautiful 2D graphics and excellent music which I warmly recommend to all hardcore shmuppers out there, with a little word of caution though: good luck in unlocking Extra Mode and finishing Doom Mode... I had to recognize defeat and give up mid-way through Extra Mode and in the third incarnation of Doom (out of 5 apparently) in Doom Mode.

I guess I got bored trying to perfect my playing style to the extreme, and with only 2 ships, those modes are really too tough for me.

N.B. The DS version comes with a super play DVD, which I watched and I didn’t find very useful because it actually shows a player going through the coin-op and not the DS version. You can take a bit of inspiration on how to dodge certain bullet patterns though but not much more...

Bottom line: one of the best and toughest vertical shooters available on DS, if you can cope with the bullet hell apocalypse that is awaiting for you. 9/10










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