Have you ever played a game that was so ahead of its time concept wise that it flew completely over your head for years before you understood how awesome it was? That was pretty much what happened when I played Clash At Demonhead for the first time. I had heard stories about how awesome this game was, but as a side scrolling platformer, it gave off the same vibe that many other games in the genre do. For those willing to explore, they were in for a major treat, as this game had incredible depth for a platformer from a publisher that wasn't Capcom or Konami.
The first thing one will notice about Clash At Demonhead is the incredible tight control. Jumps and attacks are precise and the hit detection is spot on. There is nothing that feels off about this game as far as the control mechanics. I'd venture as far as to say this game has some of the most responsive controls I've encountered in a video game, and I've played a bunch of them over the years.
Oh, I almost forgot an important thing about Clash At Demonhead. THERE IS A SUIT IN THIS GAME THAT LETS YOU SWIM THROUGH LAVA!!!
Story wise, it's nothing out of the ordinary with other games of that era, as it starts out as a simple rescue mission, but evolves into something much more. There's a demon that tries to control the main character, Billy Blitz, through mind control, and something about a doomsday bomb. The story is pretty random, but it just gives us a means to an awesome game.
Clash At Demonhead had some pretty good level design, as it required players to have to take multiple paths and do a bit of backtracking (much like in Metroid) to find the right items needed to advance. There's also an in game shop system that can be accessed whenever a player has a "shop call" from this shop, a player can purchase a wealth of items (much like the classic Sega shooter Fantasy Zone), which can also assist in gaining access to some seemingly unreachable areas. this shop system and the occasional grinding for money to buy items gives Clash At Demonhead a feel similar to Zelda II, and adds a mild RPG feeling to the run and gun gameplay.
So, tight controls, deceptively deep gameplay, and a story that seems pretty deep for an NES game all make Clash At Demonhead sound like one of the great games on the NES. Why wasn't it? That's a hard question to answer, as many folks only know the name because of Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World. Regardless of how one knows of the game's existence, I highly recommend Clash At Demonhead as it is one of the absolute best things I've played on the NES.