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Holy Diver

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Released: 1989

Genre: Platformer

Format reviewed: NES/Famicom

Publisher: Irem

Developer: Irem

Submitted by: Joseph Morgan

Holy Diver, inspired by the heavy metal classic song by Dio of the same name, is a true gem of the forgotten games in the NES/Famicom library. The story is as follows:

“Resurrected-The Legend of the Holy Magic King’s Justice

It is the 666th year of the world of magic. The Black Slayer, Demon King of the Underground Dark Empire, has extended the world of darkness and weakened the power of King Crimson whose wisdom has guided the world of magic for generations.

The 16th Crimson Emperor Ronnie 4th entrusted his two infant sons, Randy and Zakk, to his faithful servant Ozzy. The three escaped the forces from another dimension in the hope to bring light back into the world.

The next 17 years were difficult but Randy, Zakk, and Ozzy devoted themselves to the cause of Holy Magic Justice. The Black Slayer had further extended his empire over the countryside and the interdimensional forces were even more powerful. Randy needed to find the Royal Coat Of Arms of the Crimson to battle the demons. He set out alone to carry out the will of his surrogate father Ozzy who had passed away. Thus begins the Legend Of The Holy Magic King’s Justice.”

With the obvious heavy metal references in place, the game is packaged in a Castlevania-esque skin with other classic elements from other games implemented as well. For instance, similar to Mega Man, you acquire new abilities after defeating a boss. Moreover, the HUD resembles Zelda II: The Adventure of Link.

Similarities and heavy metal derivatives aside, Holy Diver is a unique and masochistic experience. The game’s brutal difficulty is enhanced by the marvelous compositions and top-notch 8-bit graphics. Everything about the game is solid – music, sound effects, graphics, controls, and even the packaging and label art. The only potential downside is the unforgiving difficulty. Holy Diver is an action/platformer only the most experienced and skilled gamers should dive into.

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