Sunday, October 18, 2015

Gargoyle's Quest II (NES, 1992)

Gargoyle's Quest II is the NES debut of Firebrand. This game got an even more limited release than Demon's Crest, and as a result it's a rarity that almost no one got to play. Follow along as I reference tons and tons of other games that this one reminds me of.

There was a Gargoyle's Quest II for the Game Boy before this, but only in Japan. So this NES version is actually... a port of a Game Boy game? Don't things usually go the other way around? Given that it came out in 1992 - after the NES had started winding down - it's surprising that they didn't take it directly to the SNES.

This time, they got Firebrand's color right in the box art. Considering he's referred to in the games as "The Red Arremer", this was quite an oversight by the designers of the first game's box.

CAPCOM, once one of the best game companies on the planet, PRESENTS... the greatest creation of Dr. Light!

After how much I liked the first game, I'm somewhat stoked for this one.

Somehow this seems too friendly coming from a huge-headed demon lord. Again, this game combines an overhead viewpoint for the RPG-like exploration, with a side-view for the action scenes.

This guy wants Firebrand to go out and score him some of the pot, man.

The first "stage", or action scene. Right away the game puts a big pillar in the way to teach you how to wall-climb. The gameplay is exactly like Gargoyle's Quest, only with larger screen area.

Climb, you magnificent bastard! Climb!

Here's the first boss. It's suitably easy to beat, and has the kind of stomach-face design that is so common in this series. Also common to Dragon Quest series Big Bads, but that's a different company.

The King dies, but not before passing on his powers to Firebrand. Unfortunately, said powers only consist of letting our hero jump slightly higher. Thanks, The King. Thanks a lot.

The overworld... now in color! The water is an ominous red here in Hell The Ghoul Realm.

 This game has the same love of vertical corridors full of spikes that the first one had. Pretty treacherous.

Firebrand trudges through the wasteland to the next town. It's Gargoyle's Quest: New Vegas! Watch out for Deathclaws!

"Damn you, Barack Obama!"

Here's a staple of the old-school, Dragon Quest style RPG: people on the overworld who just give you stuff. It's cool that Firebrand commands such respect. Unlike, say, Farus in Lennus 2.

This is a very NES-like cave. Am I suddenly playing Destiny of an Emperor 2?

The first of what would soon turn into a procession of bosses. It's some sort of gas balloon that can push and pull Firebrand around in the air. Not good when there are spikes in the middle of the room.

Here's the desert palace. This is where the difficulty level of the game spikes up quite a bit.

The desert palace is pretty nasty. At this point the game surpasses the difficulty of the Game Boy iteration, and it doesn't let up from here.

Another boss. It's some sort of sand toad. Of course, the room also has spikes, and the sand-flow acts as a sort of conveyor belt to pull you towards them. And there's a pit over there too, in case the spikes aren't enough.

Getting through that area nets Firebrand the tornado power, which creates platforms he can use as steps. I like fun ladder-type abilities like this. Mega Man 2 had something similar.

A fake king tries to dissuade our hero at this point, but Firebrand will not be deterred.

The fake king attacks! It's nothing to write home about, even though he too is a gargoyle. There was a similar fight to this in Gargoyle's Quest.

These twin demons might be my favorite boss fight in the game. They're very Ninja Gaiden esque. Actually, this game in general has the same dark feel to it.

 Dagon, of HP Lovecraft fame?

Not quite. Here's Dagon. He's a bit on the slow and easy side, as far as bosses in this game go.

The desert ordeal continues, as following Dagon is the fastest boss in the game. This mantis of doom swoops around the screen much faster than Firebrand can. Interesting how, despite having much less screen area, the Game Boy predecessor has far bigger bosses than this game. Most of the bosses in this game are barely any bigger than Firebrand, continuing the trend of Capcom's Mega Man games. It's weird when a series goes from having huge bosses to tiny man-sized bosses, though. Thinking of the last stages of Lufia here.

The Labyrinth is one of the final areas. It's tricky. It's full of mirrors, and you need to know the right route to get through. This game is reminding me more and more of Zelda 2, though I'd say the original game had more in common with Zelda 2 than this one.

At the end, Firebrand faces his doppleganger. It's a tough fight because you can only hurt this goon when he's in his real form. He frequently turns into a Firebrand mirror image, and when that happens...

 ...attacking him isn't a good idea, because somehow Firebrand takes damage. This is a hell of a lot like the fight with the Chozo illusion in Metroid Zero Mission. So much so that I suspect this game is where ZM's creators got the idea.

I promised tons of references to other games, and By God I will deliver!

This just in: Firebrand is The Chosen One, Jeff Jarrett.


NES games can be counted on for something besides crushing difficulty: Bad translations.

The final level. It's...full of spikes. I was saying, it's FULL OF SPIKES. Dear God! You pretty much have to make your own platforms, via Tornado and Claw, to get through here.

 Here's the second-to-last boss. An impressive specimen of boss, but easily defeated if you stay in the air and fire at the head.

The ultimate attack, once again. Functions the same here as in the first game in that it is slow and has no special effects, but does a lot of damage.

Here's Breager. He inexplicably revived from the first game. His appearance as the bad guy here lends credence to the theory that Gargoyle's Quest II is a remake. I haven't touched on that theory at all because personally I think it looks like a sequel, but one could probably get away with considering it a remake if they really wanted to for some reason.

Darkfire in action. Breager is a lot more vulnerable here than in the first game, but he's also more difficult. He's also side-view now, like the previous boss.

The reason he's more difficult: That thing in the middle of the room. It's a pillar that moves back and forth. You kinda need it to get high enough to hit Breager in his weak point (the highest head). Unfortunately, it is inexplicably the crappiest platform in the game. When you try to jump off of it, half the time you just slide off and die on the spikes below. You can't land on top of it from the get-go because the spikes above Firebrand's starting point are in the way. So basically you HAVE to hover over and cling to the side of that pillar, then try to jump onto the top of it and hope it works. Why it doesn't, I don't know. But it doesn't. This results in unnecessary deaths, making this fight hands-down the most difficult part of this game.

Once you get on top of this damn platform, winning is just a matter of hovering on this level and hammering Breager with Darkfire until you win. His attacks aren't too hard to dodge. 

 Game beaten. Awesome game. It was pretty tough, but nothing too bad for the NES era.

This image is a repeat of the final image of the Game Boy game. They sure recycled a lot of ideas for this one.

A lot of the time when I play these old games, I end up wondering why I bothered. This is not one of those times. Gargoyle's Quest II rocks, and I can safely say that it's worth checking this game out. Check out the Game Boy original too if you like this one a lot.


  1. Looks like a good game. I'm going to have to try to get this one. I have the Game Boy game, and I have always enjoyed it, but I had never even heard of this sequel until this summer.

    Also, go ahead and give Demon's Crest another go. I played it all the way through a couple of months ago, and really enjoyed it. It's really a very good game.

  2. Wow, I can't believe I've never seen this before. This seems to be an overlooked gem.

    1. It really looks great. I wonder if the reason it got such a limited release is that this was the early '90s and American parents were extremely skittish about demons in gaming. My parents definitely would never have bought me something like this.
      It says something about how great Capcom was that they could just burn off games like this with their spare staff members.
      It -does- make sense for townspeople to give what they can to help the guy who's trying to save them all, doesn't it?
      You mentioned this is harder than the original, which is the way all sequels worked back then. Instead of a new Level 1, they'd start with Level 11...

    2. The "real" Super Mario Bros. 2 is probably the most famous examples of starting with Level 11 (or World 9), but I think developers figured out pretty quickly that was a bad idea.