After 39 years, Nintendo's infamous demonic Pac-Man clone just got its first official North American release

 Devil World.
Devil World.

39 years after its original Famicom launch, the demon-themed Pac-Man clone Nintendo was afraid to release for NES has just gotten its first North American launch courtesy of the Nintendo Switch Online service.

Just in time for Halloween, Nintendo announced three new additions for the Nintendo Switch Online library on October 30. Game Boy fans got Castlevania Legends, while NES enjoyers got The Mysterious Murasame Castle and Devil World. If you're not familiar with the latter name, it's one of the most infamous games Nintendo ever published.

Originally released in Japan in 1984, Devil World is a Pac-Man-style game where you wander around a maze collecting dots, eating snacks for bonus points, and looking for power-ups that'll allow you to take out various spectral monsters. The catch here is that those power-ups are Bibles and crosses, and the ultimate bad guy is the literal Devil, who shows up to make the borders of the maze move around in an effort to trap you.

Back in the '80s, Nintendo of America had a pretty all-encompassing ban on religious imagery appearing in NES games, and something titled 'Devil World' wasn't going to fly in an era when the Satanic panic was still gripping the US. Devil World did eventually get released in Europe in 1987, but despite reissues of its old games over the past four decades, Nintendo had never officially released Devil World in North America. Until the new NSO release, that is.

Devil World is more of a historical curiosity than a beloved classic these days, though its colorful visuals and unique take on the post Pac-Man maze game craze means it has some fans among retro aficionados. It's perhaps most notable as the first console-only game directed by Shigeru Miyamoto. The Devil character ended up making some cameos in the Smash Bros. series, which is probably the first exposure most English-speaking Nintendo fans got to this forgotten page of Nintendo history.

The other NES game in the recent NSO lineup, The Mysterious Murasame Castle, is also notable for its relative obscurity outside of Japan. It's effectively a Zelda game with a mythological Japanese setting, and it was never released outside of its home country back in the day. The one official release prior to the NSO update was for the 3DS virtual console back in 2014.

There's never a bad time to revisit the best NES games of all time.