I played the first one and very much enjoyed it. See how I feel about it sequel.
Deathsmiles 2X was just released yesterday, May 17, 2011. I only found out it was coming to Xbox when I was looking for info on Arcana Heart 3 for 360, which given how Deathsmiles was released, we might actually see it sometime. But anyway, Deathsmiles 2X is probably my favorite bullet-hell shooter since the first Deathsmiles was released.
So, here's what I got out of the story. Satan Claws (Evil Santa) possessed a 7 year girl and used her to kill Count Dior, the caretaker of these lost child "Angels" in a spirit world. Apparently, Satan Claws wanted some magical music notes he had in his possession, to do something sinister I'm guessing. The girls he looked after have to go after Satan Claws and get these notes back. Of course, the text and cut-scenes were all in Japanese so I just took my best guess at the pictures of the cut-scenes. But this game is a shoot-em-up so the story's not important anyway.
The game is a classic horizontal side-scrolling bullet-hell shooter. Enemies come from all sides of the screen and you can shoot to the left or right. There's six different characters to choose from with each one of them having a different shooting pattern and a familiar with its own shooting pattern. There's four separate modes included. They are Deathsmiles 2X mode, Arrange mode, Arcade mode, and Extra mode. The first three modes are the main bullet-hell game while the Extra mode is more of a fun little mini-game. The difference between the first three are that each one plays a little bit differently gameplay wise.
Arrange mode lets you shoot enemy bullets to destroy them, and it also doesn't have bombs, so instead of bombs, it surrounds your familiar with a zone that neutralizes bullets and shoots him across the screen to clear the area of the bullets. There's also an in-game counter that goes up when you collect items from fallen enemies. If the counter goes to 1000, the game goes into a slow-mo "High Tension" mode. During this time, enemy bullets stay on the screen longer and the screen gets so crowded that you have to use your bomb zone familiar to even stay alive.
In Arcade mode, you play an exact port of the arcade version (no duh) which isn't as fully complete as the other modes. So that means it doesn't have two of the old characters (Rosa and Follett), and two of the stages found in the other modes (one of the main stages and the extra stage). I noticed that some of the bosses have different patterns as well.
Deathsmiles 2X mode is the standard mode that basically plays like the first Deathsmiles. You should probably start here if you play it.
Extra mode is a little platformer mini-game where you play as one of the girl's familiars and you bounce your character across a level into a spot on the stage which will take you to the next level. The familiars are only unique in the fact that they have different weights and bounce at different heights. It's not a very serious mode but it is a fun little distraction. This mode is also based off of the first game. It plays the first game's music and some of the backdrops from the first game are used. Pretty nostalgic.
Overall, the gameplay is basic bullet-hell and provides the difficulty that is commonplace for these sorts of titles. It's very fun if you enjoy a challenge.
The music in this game is great. It has a very diverse soundtrack with Christmasy overtones that spans from metal to orchestral music and it all fits together perfectly.
I thoroughly enjoyed this game and its predecessor. It's a shame not many bullet-hells make it over to the U.S. This game was a special case since it was released directly to Games on demand. If more developers used this system they could release games without having to pay for localization, manufacturing, shipping, etc. So anyway, what I'm trying to say is...
You can't really rent it anyway but its only $30 which is cheap for a retail game, and it's downloadable so you don't have to drive anywhere too.