Before the days of incredibly difficult games like Dark Souls, there were Capcom games. What is the difference, you ask? It's simple. Capcom games may be difficult, but at least they were fun. That's one of the biggest annoyances I have with games these days. The developers and gamers see playing games as more of a bragging right or a test of skill rather than an avenue of entertainment and pleasure. They take the fun out of actually enjoying a game and place it into making a tick mark of "I finished this game. Give me joyous praise and Steam achievements." In my opinion, that's why older games are better. Demon's Crest is one of those games that is both difficult and enjoyable. Sure, the game's frustrating at times, but it doesn't make you want to chuck the cartridge into oncoming traffic...well, most of the time.
Demon's Crest has quite a history before it. The main gargoyle friend, Firebrand, got his beginning as a main enemy in the game Ghouls 'n Goblins. From that game, he branched off into his own three game series beginning with Gargoyle's Quest. Demon's Crest comes last in this series, so if this game interests you, you should probably start with the other games first. I wasn't aware of the former games, so I was a bit confused at the start. I was ignorant of all the awesome stuff that Firebrand could do in the game. He can fly, breathe fire, and grapple onto the sides of walls. By collecting various objects, he can transform into different types of gargoyles and adopt their unique talents as well. In this game, there are three other types of gargoyles: earth, air, and water. Firebrand is obviously a fire type gargoyle.
The first thing I noticed and appreciated about this game was the atmosphere. It's amazing! The game drops you right into a boss battle at the beginning. There's no story to explain where you are or what you're trying to do. There's a dragon that's going to eat your face and you need to take it down. I was a bit confused at this part since there was a wall that obviously looked like it needed to be broken down. I thought, "Oh, I don't need to fight the boss. I just need to escape." I died a few time before I figured out that I couldn't break that wall. That wall was so enticing though! It was like those displays with the money behind the glass and a sign that says, "If you can break this glass, you can keep the money."
When it comes to atmosphere, this game is in the mesosphere! (That's the highest layer, in case you were going to Google it like I just did.) Demon's Crest has some high quality SNES artwork. The background are well done and animated. The foreground is detailed. The characters are probably some of the best! Especially the bosses—some of them remind me of some of the grime I've had to clean from my family's bathroom. All of the bosses are creepy and look like they crawled out of a radiated sewer mop, but that's great! This game is supposed to be about the underworld and gross-looking stuff. It definitely accomplishes that feat.
The demon's crest reads "Etenim calidum est." A translation would be "It's jam hot in here!"
Anyone who knows me knows that music is very important to my gaming experience. The music of Demon's Crest is very fitting and awesome. As if the art in the game wasn't haunting enough, the music accomplishes that atmosphere twice as much. The main instrument the music composers used was the organ...no, not their internal organs. For some reason, the organ makes sense with this game. Who would have thought that a church organ and demons would go so well together? Actually, don't answer that.
If you're looking for a game that you can complete in an afternoon, you should probably save Demon's Crest for some other time. As is said before, this game is difficult. You will spend quite a bit of time going back and forth between fighting bosses and searching for potion and spell money. The game does help you out in some situations. When you die, you have the option to either retry or go back to the map. You aren't forced to keep replaying the same level over and over again. If you need to go back to the town and smash some windows for money, go ahead! It's actually very nice sometimes to take a break from repeatedly dying on a single boss to play a skull-crushing minigame for a few extra coins.
The bosses are quite the challenge! Most of them are simple pattern recognition, but there are some that have no distinct pattern of attack. Those are the ones you'll spend all day on because each battle is different. A technique that almost worked the first time will get you killed faster the second go around. Defeating these bosses gave me quite the sense of accomplishment! Ultimately, players defeat these mangled bosses by preparing well and by balancing the perks of the different gargoyle forms.
Demon's Crest whooped my behind for sure, but that doesn't mean I can't enjoy the game. Although there isn't much of an explanation of the story, the game does well without it. I'll probably pick this game up again in the future and try to see if I can do better next time.
I do wonder, though...
Is there a Demon's Colgate?