Author: Eric Dude
Demon’s Crest is the third entry in a somewhat underappreciated action adventure series from Capcom. The trials and tribulations of Firebrand (a.k.a. the Red Demon from Ghosts ‘n Goblins) first began on the black & white Game Boy with Gargoyle’s Quest, and then graduated to the NES with the sequel, Gargoyle’s Quest II. Each game has boasted a longer quest than the last, with more items to collect, and more bosses to beat. Demon’s Crest rounds out the trilogy nicely with the jump to beautiful 16-bit graphics, a hauntingly captivating soundtrack, and the most in-depth adventure yet.
At its heart, the Gargoyle’s Quest series is based on traditional platformer gameplay. The player will run and jump his way through side-scrolling levels while defeating enemies and protecting his life bar. The added caveat here is that in addition to jumping, your character can hover in the air, and climb walls. Not only that, but he is inherently blessed with the ability to breathe fire at enemies. Altogether, the power at Firebrand’s immediate disposal makes you feel significantly more bad-ass than your typical platforming hero. Oh, and by the way: the main character in this one is not really a hero. He’s a power-hungry warrior driven by his thirst for battle. Firebrand doesn’t want to save the world; he wants to conquer it! The “anti-hero” plot is a welcome reprieve from the typical do-gooder storylines you find in this particular genre.
The game is tinged with RPG flavors, similar in nature to that of Zelda II: The Adventure of Link. You can upgrade your fire-breathing, learn spells, carry potions, and take on different forms that allow you to fly, swim, and even crash through walls. In order to unlock these abilities, there’s a lot of back and forth exploring between levels. While this might sound like your typical “fetch quest”, Demon’s Crest masks it well with imaginative level design. Every stage has multiple paths, and you are challenged with finding a way to uncover them. Discovery keeps the levels fresh, and extends the life of the game.
The animation and artwork in Demon’s Crest fit the game perfectly. Firebrand looks fierce and menacing, as do the rest of the monsters that stand in your way. Each level has a distinct theme, with multiple detailed areas. And the backgrounds scroll beautifully behind you. When you fly from one area to the next, you are treated to an impressive Mode 7 landscape sprawling underneath you. Bringing all of this together is the music, which is perfectly written and arranged for this game, and uses some of the best samples and tones that the Super Nintendo has to offer. It’s a masterful soundtrack that establishes the overall mood of the game, which is both action packed and ominous.
What propels this game from the ranks of the mediocre to a great platformer is the depth of the gameplay. Capcom gave this one the full treatment with multiple endings, plenty of power-ups to collect, and lots of hidden areas and items to discover. You can attempt to defeat the final boss very early in the game, but even if you manage that very difficult task, you’re not getting everything out of this quest that you could have. Finding every last item, while at times is frustrating, keeps you exploring the locales and trying new methods to uncover hidden paths. This is a saving grace, because if not for the secrets, the game wouldn’t be very challenging. Unlike most platformers, it offers unlimited continues and tons of checkpoints, so it’s not too hard to just get through the game. The bosses put up a bit of a fight, but it’s not until you start to go for the 100% completion rate that the game will give you serious headaches.
Offering up a diverse mix of platforming and adventure game elements, Demon’s Crest has enough meat to satisfy all but the most hardcore fans of either genre. From start to finish, it is an enchanting experience on the Super Nintendo that should not be missed.
Four out of five stars
HAVE AN OPINION?
You can submit reviews for games on the Submissions page.