Demon Throttle Review: Truly Old School Shoot ‘Em Up Madness

by David Sanchez August 13, 2022 @ 12:00 pm

Demon Throttle

Reviewed on Nintendo Switch

Some of the coolest indie games often have a genuine retro-styled charm to them. It’s awesome when games like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge and Infernax can deliver a proper throwback that feels like it was ripped out of a bygone era. Likewise, Demon Throttle from developer Doinksoft is truly like a trip back to the ‘80s and feels like something you would’ve played on an NES cartridge. And damn, is it ever awesome.

Doinksoft previously released Gato Roboto, a cool, pixelated Metroidvania that, while slightly challenging, was pretty inviting overall. Demon Throttle shakes things up and is much more intense in the challenge it offers. The game would certainly feel right at home on the original Nintendo Entertainment System.

Cowboys and Vampires

The story of Demon Throttle is beautifully absurd and centers on a cowboy whose wife kissed a demon. Well, at least that’s part of what happened. The cowboy goes on to try and fight the demon, but he’s not alone. Joining him for the journey is a vampire whose chalices were stolen, which puts a wrench in her plans to return to the world of the living proper.

This quirky little plot works thanks to some fun writing that doesn’t take itself too seriously and is never overbearing. Outside of a few pixel-heavy cutscenes, the game is mostly all action.

Demon Throttle Boss Fight

Playing Demon Throttle is an exercise in precision and patience in the absolute best ways. The game is a top-down shoot ‘em up, and the screen slowly scrolls upward at all times. Enemies and obstacles litter the screen, which means you have no respite and have to constantly move around, take shots, and dodge incoming fire. Due to the constantly scrolling screen, there’s no hiding behind cover and picking baddies off at your leisure. This adds a sense of urgency and makes your mortality quite precious.

If you’re playing alone, you can switch between the cowboy and the vampire with the press of a button. That said, Demon Throttle supports two-player local co-op, which is pretty fun and can make things a little bit more doable if you have a partner that’s able to hold his own.

Shooting pieces of the environment can reveal power-ups like bombs and upgrades like increased speed and attack buffs. In addition, killing enemies rewards you with XP that allows you to level up as you go along. It’s all pretty passive and happens in the background, so you don’t really need to pay too much attention to it. But because leveling up increases your characters’ stats, which helps immensely in the long run, it’s wise to try and take down as many enemies as possible.

Demon Throttle Gameplay

There are four levels in Demon Throttle, which may not seem like a lot, but you’ll definitely spend quite a bit of time trying to master them. Just reaching the end of a level takes some doing. And when you do get there, you’re greeted by huge bosses who are equipped with powerful bullet hell attacks and insanely massive health.

In addition, each stage has a full hidden stage tucked away in it. These basically add another layer to the game, bringing the grand total of levels up to eight if you’re so inclined to clear everything and get the true ending. But even if you’re just main-lining Demon Throttle, the four main stages are nice and bulky and will keep you busy for a while, especially since death means starting the game over from the very beginning.

There’s a bit of a dynamic vibe to the way Demon Throttle plays out the more attempts you make. As you play, you’ll unlock stage modifiers that then occur at random in subsequent playthroughs. So at any point after unlocking these, you could experience a level with, say, hard rains that flood sections of a stage or strong winds that make movement harder.

A Rich, Old School-Styled Shmup

As much as Demon Throttle plays like a finely tuned and polished old school game, it looks and sounds as such, too. The game’s pixel art is awesome, and the chiptune soundtrack rocks.

Demon Throttle Boss

It’s the little things that really stand out and add even more vintage-like authenticity to the bulk of the package. The lo-fi visuals are NES accurate, and there’s even a CRT filter you can toggle on and off. There are also a few voiced lines of dialogue in the game that sound fuzzy and distorted, just like they used to sound!

One thing to note about Demon Throttle is that it’s part of an “only physical, never digital” campaign by Devolver Digital, Special Reserve Games, and Doinksoft. This means there are no plans for the game to appear on the Switch eShop, like, ever. In addition, though the initial limited run featured 10,000 standard edition copies of the game, there are plans for a second run through retailers. What that means is that if you really want to play Demon Throttle, you’re either already playing it, or you’re going to get your hands on a copy at retail.

Hopefully you’re one of the few thousand folks enjoying the heck out of Demon Throttle. If you got a copy, here’s to ya! And if you know someone who did, you should play the game with that person posthaste or see if they’ll let you borrow their copy. (Remember when we used to do that all the time with our games?) Demon Throttle is a cool little project, and one of the most entertaining shoot ‘em ups to come along all year.

Score: 8 out of 10

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