Holy Diver (video game)

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For the album by the band Dio, and its title track, see Holy Diver.
Holy Diver
HolyDiver frontcover.png
Cover art
Publisher(s)Irem, Retro-bit
  • JP: April 28, 1989
  • WW: July 2018
Genre(s)Platforming action

Holy Diver (Japanese: ホーリー・ダイヴァー, Hepburn: Hōrī Daivā) is a 1989 Japanese video game for the Famicom home console. It was developed and published by Irem.


It is the 666th year for the world of magic, and the Crimson Kingdom is facing destruction at the hands of The Black Slayer, Demon King of the Underground Dark Empire. Realizing that his days are numbered, the 16th Crimson Emperor Ronnie IV decides to entrusts his two infant sons, Randy and Zakk, to his faithful servant Ozzy. With Slayer's forces closing in, Ozzy, Randy, and Zakk escapes to another dimension, with the hope of eventually bringing light back into the world.

Over the following 17 years, Randy, Zakk, and Ozzy devote and train themselves to the cause of Magic Justice, becoming wizard kings. Meanwhile Black Slayer has increased his empire over the countryside, making his interdimensional forces even stronger. In order to defeat Black Slayer and his army, Randy must retrieve the Five Crimson Emblem Seals. Making matters worse, Randy now must wage his war against Black Slayer alone, for Zakk suddenly goes missing, and Ozzy passes away.


The game consists of six stages in total.[1] The player can learn magic spells at the completion of each level, and defeating the end level boss. Such as a magic spell that can freeze lava.[2][1]

It is similar to the game Getsu Fūma Den.[citation needed] In fact, one of the stages has sprites and graphics similar to those found in Konami's other game, Contra (the final boss is also very similar to Contra's). The HUD is like the one used in Nintendo's Zelda II: The Adventure of Link.[citation needed]

The player has an infinite supply of fireballs to attack enemies.[3]

Enemies in the game include gargoyles, and flying eyeballs.[3]

In order to find and defeat Black Slayer, the player must travel through six stages, which primarily consists of forests, castles, and caverns - all while seeking the Five Crimson Family Seals. The Five Crimson Family Seals are powerful magic spells, which are Twin Fire, Blizzard, Rock Breaker, Overdrive and Thunder. In addition to acquiring the seals, the player must also seek out the Bracelet, Jump Boots, Wizard's Staff, and The Cape of Protection, all of which assist physical strength and endurance.[citation needed]


The game was developed by Japanese game developer Irem.[4] The game is based on the 1983 album Holy Diver by Dio, however it is completely unofficial and has no connection with the band.[3][5] The game has four main characters who are named after musicians Ronnie James Dio, Ozzy Ozborne, Zakk Wylde, and Randy Rhoads.[3] Other characters and locations in the game are references to rock music such as the Crimson Kingdom and Black Slayer.[6]


The game was self-published by Irem and released on April 28, 1989 for the Famicom (Japanese version of the Nintendo Entertainment System).[2] The game was scheduled for a North American release in the same year, and even received a brief preview in Electronic Gaming Monthly.[7] However, the game was never released outside Japan.[5] Since release, the game has gone onto becoming a rare game that is sought after by collectors.[8] In 2018, the title is noted to cost around $75 USD for just the game, and up to $200 USD for the complete game with box. Also, unauthorized reproductions of the game have been produced and sold as well.[8]

In 2018, 29 years after the game was first released, distributor Retro-bit announced that they would give Holy Diver a worldwide physical re-release for the Nintendo Entertainment System.[8][9] The is the first time the game is released outside of Japan, and the game would be translated into English.[9] The new edition is limited to 2,900 copies, and costs 35 USD for the regular version, and 60 USD for the Collector's Edition .[10][4] The collector's edition of the game included a display box to house the game, pins, stickers, and artwork.[11][10] The game was also released on Retro-bit's microconsole the Super Retro-Cade.[12]


Multiple reviewers both contemporary and retrospective noted the game as very difficult.[3][1] Many reviewers and previews also noted the similarity to Konami's earlier Castlevania NES installments, with one publication calling the game a "Castlevania Clone.[7][3][5]

Weekly Famitsu on release gave the game a 22 out of 40 score.[2] Brazilian magazine VideoGame gave the game an overall score of 3 out of 5.[1]

In 2018, Destructoid gave the game a positive review.[13]


  1. ^ a b c d "Reviews". VideoGame (in Portuguese). Vol. 1 no. 1. Sigla Editora. 1991. p. 24.
  2. ^ a b c "ホーリー・ダイヴァー [ファミコン] / ファミ通.com". www.famitsu.com. Archived from the original on 2018-08-31. Retrieved 2018-08-31.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Rampton, Mike (July 23, 2016). "Rock's Greatest Video Games". Kerrang!. p. 23.
  4. ^ a b Life, Nintendo (2018-08-06). "Gallery: Unboxing Retro-Bit's Incredible R-Type And Holy Diver Limited Editions". Nintendo Life. Archived from the original on 2018-08-26. Retrieved 2018-08-31.
  5. ^ a b c "13 Times Video Games Went Metal". Kerrang!. Retrieved 2019-01-05.
  6. ^ Wawzenek, Bryan. "Rock Stars in Video Games: The Complete History". Ultimate Classic Rock. Archived from the original on 2018-12-16. Retrieved 2019-01-05.
  7. ^ a b "Next Wave". Electronic Gaming Monthly. September 1989. p. 22.
  8. ^ a b c "混沌の"レトロゲーム市場"に射す、29年ぶりに正規販売されるファミコン用タイトルという光──権利が放置されたビデオゲームが違法複製で流通する現実". Den Faminico Gamer. January 19, 2018. Archived from the original on 2018-12-23.
  9. ^ a b Life, Nintendo (2017-12-31). "Retro-Bit Announces R-Type Returns For Super Nintendo". Nintendo Life. Archived from the original on 2018-07-26. Retrieved 2018-08-31.
  10. ^ a b Higham, Michael (2019-01-04). "Retro-bit Brings New Ways To Play Old Games At CES 2018". GameSpot. Archived from the original on 2018-09-19. Retrieved 2019-01-05.
  11. ^ "Holy Diver and R-Type III & Super R-Type Collector's Edition Now Available". Hardcore Gamer. 2018-09-01. Archived from the original on 2019-01-05. Retrieved 2019-01-05.
  12. ^ "King of the classic consoles: Nintendo, PlayStation, Neo Geo, and more ranked". VentureBeat. 2018-12-26. Archived from the original on 2018-12-27. Retrieved 2019-01-05.
  13. ^ "Review: Holy Diver Collector's Edition". destructoid. Archived from the original on 2019-01-05. Retrieved 2019-01-05.

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