Release: October 5, 1984 | Developer: Nintendo R&D1 | Publisher: Nintendo
Essentially the “lost Miyamoto”, Devil World is not only the sole Shigeru Miyamoto game never to be released in North America, but also marks the first collaboration between Miyamoto and famed Nintendo designer Takashi Tezuka. Miyamoto and Tezuka’s collaborative relationship would come to a creative zenith with the creation of Super Mario Bros. and The Legend of Zelda in 1985 and 1986 respectively.
As far as Devil World is concerned, it was not the quality of the game that prevented a North American release, but rather Nintendo of America’s strict censorship rules. As a game, Devil World is routinely lumped in with the glut of early-to-mid 80s Pac Man clones, although this is only partially true.
The game looks like Pac Man at first glance but Devil World actually throws in some twists that make the game stand on its own merits. You move your character, a dragon/dinosaur creature called Tamagon threw a Pac Man-like maze world presided over by the Devil himself. Rather than simply collecting pellets, you must first collect rather-religious looking crosses. Beyond allowing you to pick up pellets, the crosses also give you a fire attack which you can use on the other enemies roaming the maze. On top of all of this mayhem, the outer boundaries of the maze are fixed while the Devil antagonist controls the horizontal and vertical scrolling of the maze itself, thus adding the additional threat of being trapped and crushed by the ever shifting boundaries.
There is a second half to each level in which you collect bibles from the four corners of the screen and return them to a central collection point, all the while contending with the constantly shifting outer walls. Each stage ends with a bonus round in which you have the chance to collect an extra life.
It would be right to assume that this game would have fit nicely into the Nintendo Entertainment System’s sports-heavy launch line-up, however, Devil World’s heavy reliance on religious themes and imagery prevented Nintendo of America from releasing the game. Devil World did, however, get released in Europe for the NES in July 1987.