Sunday, October 3, 2010

Demon's Crest (SNES)

Today I'm going to be looking at an old SNES game, Demon's Crest. It's actually the third game in the Gargoyle series, a forgotten little group of games by Capcom. I've never played the first two, but Demon's Crest is decent. This should be a fun little jaunt.

Demon's Crest. It sold about 1000 copies, so no one knew it existed.


The first game in this lost series has pretty awful box-art. First of all, the heroic red gargoyle of the series is green here. Second, a blue toad is checking out his ass. Third, a Klansman is looking on creepily.

The sequel's box art is a bit better. They got the color right, and it's 100% Klan-free.

The original Gargoyle's Quest was on the shortlist of Game Boy games I wanted in the first year I had a Game Boy. Never did get it, or even play it.

Gargoyle's Quest has that distinctive early Game Boy look. ...wait, there's that damn Klansman! Get him!

Here's the NES sequel. I believe this series was done by the same team at Capcom that did the ultra-hard Ghouls and Ghosts games.
Matter of fact, the main character of these games, Firebrand, got his start as a random enemy in the Ghouls and Ghosts series. He's such a bad-ass that they figured he could carry his own game. NES intensity! This looks a lot like the eventual Demon's Crest. Moving on from the first two games, let's get to the point of this post...

Moving on to the third and final game in the series, the focal point of this post. A CASCADING INFERNO gives way to...

...the title screen. This is definitely an October game.

Stuff happened once upon a time, and our hero lost six crests. Now, he's on a quest to get them back. But will he be able to get all six before the Supreme Court stops the count?

"NOT IF I CAN HELP IT!" says the first boss, who charges you right off the bat.

This is an impressive way to start a game, but the fight isn't difficult.

I quickly get used to the controls, which are unlike anything else I've ever played. The game definitely has a Ghouls and Ghosts vibe to it... wait, what the hell! It's that Klansman again!

One of the game's ferocious mini-bosses, a nameless recurring white gargoyle. This guy actually steals some heat from the named villain gargoyles of the game since he's bigger and more menacing than they are.

Case in point... here's General Arma. He looks like a midget compared to the mini-boss I just fought. Either way, this guy plays second-fiddle to the big bad, and shows up to battle you at a couple of points in the game.

A fight ensues, and he's pretty simple to defeat.
It should be noted: Gargoyle fights are cool, even with the game's stiff controls.
Got the first crest out of six. Each one of these gives you a new form. The Earth form is tough and can do dash attacks on the ground, but can't fly. There's also normal form, Aerial form (can ascend), Tidal form (can swim), Legendary form (deal more and take less damage) and Ultimate form (combines the rest of them).

Mode-7 flight is the order of the day...and the game has an overworld, believe it or not.

Next, our hero must contend with a fearsome skeleton. This thing took about 800 hits to beat, and the fight just went on and ON.

These graphics are pretty good, and remind me of what the SNES could do.

Another heat-stealing giant miniboss gargoyle. These things are pretty nasty. More importantly, check out this awesome sky-bridge the fight is taking place on.

Firebrand air-waltzes by moonlight.

This boss has to be the most annoying fight in the game. It's basically cribbed right from A Link to the Past. Remember that one eye boss? Yeah, this one does the exact same thing... just in a side-scrolling form.

Another cool looking and ultra-difficult boss. Let me just say, this game is not for the inexperienced or impatient.
Suddenly, a bunch of flaming birds set fire to the woods! THOSE BASTARDS! SMOKEY BEAR WILL HEAR OF THIS!

Here's their leader, the fire lord.

His second form. This game has some cool bosses. Unfortunately, I think it looks a lot better than it plays. That's where I come in.

Arma: the rematch. These two have a bitter rivalry from back in college, you see.

Heading for Arma's posh mountain resort for the final showdown...

After the third and final fight with him, he gives up the Legendary form. Not bad at all.

I pay a visit to the game's town, which I largely ignored for a while before this...and the whole place looks like the scene of a vicious bar-fight. Protip: The town is the place to build up money, which is way too rare in the rest of the game.
Ginseng is a full heal, so I fill all five of the bottles I've collected with it. Elixir only heals five units of health, which makes it a mega ripoff.

Tidal form in action. It may have stiff controls and it may be a bit too difficult, but this game has enough variety to be pretty good.

The boss of the water stage. I did a lot of the game "out of order", since it's clear you're supposed to fight Arma 3 last. The game isn't linear at all, though. You can go anywhere that you have the right powerups for, and plenty of things can be skipped until later.

Returning to Arma's palace, I find the palace is gone completely and there's a new boss here. I whoop up, collect more powerups, and move on.
This game is almost Metroid-like in the powerup system... except not in the same galaxy in terms of how refined it is. But that meager similarity in and of itself is a big plus.
Here's the Earth form's dash... afterimages rock, and aren't used often enough in games and other media.

Flying through Phalanx's palace.
Phalanx is the real big bad of the gargoyles, and now that I'm at full power it's time to take him on.
Here he is. He actually looks like a bad-ass. He also looks very similar to those gargoyle mini-bosses from earlier, so much so that if I didn't know better I'd think they were all the same guy.

After beating him without too much trouble, his true form emerges... complete with AWESOME final battle music.
Listen for yourself. Atmospheric-ness.

This fight... I don't want to talk about it. It took me three tries, and on each of those tries I went through all five of my full heals. It's got to be one of the hardest boss fights I've ever gone through in any medium. After the second loss, I was actually very close to just giving up. It's that brutal. The guy in the video makes it look easy.

I finally get the win... and the funny thing is, I was completely surprised when it happened.

There we go... good game. Took me about two hours and I'm glad I finally played it.
Wait, what?
No, that's the end of the game.
Nothing else to see here.

That's it.
That's everything.
So it seems there is some WEAPON-esque hidden boss in the game that is actually WORSE than the final boss...the one that I just struggled with until my hands nearly broke. Some "Dark Demon" guy.
There he is. Looks like Dark Lich, of Secret of Mana and Seiken Densetsu 3 fame.

 Evidently he also has two forms.

Me? I didn't fight him. I beat the game, now I'm going to back away slowly.
This game really is for masochists as far as the final boss and this guy go. No wonder so few people got into it...they probably got to the end and discovered it was IMPOSSIBLE TO FINISH.
Still not sure how I beat that final boss... and it'll give me nightmares for some time.
The rest of the game? Pretty cool. If it has or ever does make its way to virtual console, check it out.

EDITOR'S NOTE: If you're reading this post after October 2012, you are in luck. I recently revisited this entire series and gave it the post series it deserved. Check it out:


  1. Always cool to see this game get some recognition! One thing I noticed, I recall Elixir auto-reviving you! It's still only 5 units instead of up to 20, but it's useful if you forget to check your health and use your Ginseng! This game got easier the more I played it. I used to have so much trouble with Phalanx's final form, I couldn't imagine a harder boss in this game! But after beating it a few times, I was able to beat Phalanx with more Ginseng's left, and I was able to defeat Dark Demon a few times!

    Anyway, I can't believe you didn't mention the game's music! One of my favorite parts of the game!

  2. Good call on the music. I did mention it, though! I linked the final boss music in there. The music throughout the game was pretty great, which has to be expected from Capcom.

    Didn't know that about Elixir. So basically, it's similar to the choice between using your bottles for faeries or red potions in A Link to the Past.

  3. I played this years ago for about 10 minutes, and just today I started to play it again and I'm almost done. This game is friggin amazing and it saddens me that the series is dead...