|Genre||Devilish Platformer RPG|
|MtAMinutes to Action||1|
|Keep Playing?||I'll Pass|
|Buy from Amazon|
Demon's Crest is a platformer for the Super Nintendo released in 1994. It's part of the Ghosts 'n Goblins/Ghouls 'n Ghosts series that has me seriously worried about my health for the next first hour. A couple of years ago, I played Super Ghouls 'n Ghosts as part of a contest and it has left me scarred for life. The number of times I died in that game is unholy. My only hope is that the heritage of Demon's Crest sounds a little more friendly, just check out the box cover for Gargoyle's Quest, the first game in the Gargoyle/Demon Quest/Crest sub-series.
I have a pretty weird history with this game, back in 1998 I bought 20 Super Nintendo Games from a guy at school for $35. I hadn't even heard of most of the games but it seemed like a no brainer, 20 new games for the price of one? I gave every game I bought a shot - most sucked. The crappy games included Aaahhh!!! Real Monsters, Cybernator, Ballz, Metal Morph, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Tournament Fighters. There were a few gems, such as SimCity (which I lent to my cousin six years ago and never expect to see again) and Mega Man X. In the middle of all these was Demon's Crest. Well, I always assumed it was in the suck pile, but I found out a few months ago that the game was actually worth about $25 today, so I decided to sell it. I had only played it twice, each time I couldn't get out of the opening area. I'm honestly curious if the same will happen again today.
So here's the first hour of Demon's Crest, the game's last hurrah before I mail it off to some guy who can actually appreciate this game.
(minutes are in bold)
00 - I select Start and the first hour of Demon's Crest begins. I almost immediately get control of the little devil guy. He's standing in what appears to be a large Roman coliseum. A large dragon appears from the left side of the screen and chases me right... I've run out of room!
01 - Wow, I've died already. Memories of the past are resurfacing... this is not good. As for the controls, B jumps, Y shoots fireballs, X is supposedly magic (though it doesn't do anything right now), and A is "Special," though all he does for this is waggle his butt at me.
03 - This time I try to float my way past him, but end up just getting crushed. Every time you die you have to watch the dragon walk out again... takes forever!
04 - I finally manage to shoot the dragon in the head a few times and he flashed, indicating in the classic way that he was being hurt. Only hit him twice though... this could take a while.
07 - I've escaped! Five fireballs to the forehead and he was down for the count and our demon was able to escape into a forest. Finally!
08 - Haha, I speak a little too soon as the dragon pokes its head out the door and screams at me a bit. Shooting him a few more times finally decapitates the monster. Time for the real game now, I suppose.
10 - This is a pretty typical platformer so far now, too bad he only has the long range fire-breathing attack. Though one of the cool things is that you can jump onto a wall and cling onto it indefinitely and then burst off of it.
12 - The game's second boss appears as I reach the end of the level. Actually, there was just a statue that I had to butt waggle to make it appear. Turns out butt waggling is actually some kind of tearing down action. The boss was a bird man with two attacks: it would throw three feathers at me, or charge me pretty quickly. After I got the pattern down he was easy, but oddly enough, near the end of the battle he reverted back into a statue, only to turn back into a monster a moment later. Weird.
14 - The next level stats off immediately and I pause it. A screen appears showing me that i have 23 G.P. and that I identify with fire (I am, after all, a demon). I also have one fire power and no crest powers, spells, potions, or talismans.
15 - I have to do some fancy jumping to get over some piranha plants, well, I would have to do some fancy jumping if our demon couldn't just float and fly Princess style in Super Mario Bros. 2.
18 - Through the sheer combination of floating forever and wall jumping, platforming is a breeze in this game. Whether you're going sideways or vertically, I had no problem in the second level, I actually made it through without getting hit once. But now for the boss.
19 - He announceds himself as Arma, and that he's here to put a stop to my petty quest, whatever that may be (the guy never gave me the instruction booklet).
21 - Well, I died. Arma has similar attacks to the last boss, but can take a lot more hits and also liked to sit just outside my vertical jumping/shooting range.
22 - The game doesn't place me at the beginning of the level, but I still have a few minutes to make up.
24 - I was a lot more careless to begin my battle against Arma, but I turned it around and eventually beat him. I received the Crest of Earth. Wonder what that does? Oh, I can morph into "G. Gargoyle." What's a G. Gargoyle?
25 - WOAH! MODE 7 graphics to the rescue! I haven't seen these since ActRaiser a few months back. I feel like I might begin building a city any time now.
26 - The game doesn't give me any kind of hint on where to go, so I land on a house, some skeleton guy tells me I need a vellum... okay, don't have that. The next shopkeeper informs me I need an urn to keep potions. Any hint on where to get said urn?
28 - Oooh, a world map. There's friendly Roman numerals telling me the order of levels I presume. Now, have I already played one or not?
31 - The next shop I find has a minigame, the A button actually headbutts, not butt waggle or tear down, headbutt. Anyways, you have to destroy a bunch of skulls with your headbutt, but I don't get it down until time almost runs out. I'm going to try again.
32 - I do a lot better that time, winning the minigame and collecting all my entry fees back plus a little more.
34 - Next I enter an entire demon city and talk to a few of the evil folks there. One of them tells the story of Firebrand, a demon who nearly destroyed the world. I think I might be Firebrand. There's also a door I can't get to at the moment... suspicious.
36 - I enter the first world, and it is definitely the level I already beat, now how do I get out of here gracefully? Start and Select doesn't work, not good.
39 - Just finished replaying the levels, they're a lot easier when you don't need to fight the bosses!
40 - For some reason, the second level on the map points at the village I was just in, what the heck? Guess I'll head to "III" instead.
41 - It's a forest level, definitely tougher than the first. The new enemies, an eye monster that looks like it is straight out of Chrono Trigger and a giant furry catipillar move around pretty quickly for the stomping Firebrand.
45 - So Firebrand can't swim, but he also gets hurt by fire! Along with thorns and bats and legless knights, this level is getting tough. Thankfully though, if you die, you can retry from the area you're currently in, thank you game!
48 - Boss time! It's a fiery demon that reminds me of Cinder from Killer Instinct. I can't hurt him in fire mode so I switch to G. Gargoyle (ground gargoyle?) and I start whooping down... until I'm killed.
50 - I don't know if the game is trying to go easy on me, but I just played the last stage before the boss again but without all the fire trapping me. That was a lot easier!
51 - Ugh, you can't float as ground gargoyle! Died again, though I did do a ton of damage.
53 - Not an easy guy, his lunge attack takes away two hearts when I only have seven. He's also got a lot of really obnoxious birds that fly faster than I can move...
56 - Ugh, a boss with two forms! Now his head is floating around. Why is it always the head?!
60 - All right, I've had enough. Ten some hits against his second form should be more than enough to kill him, whatever. After I die again I select End and the game gives me a 16 letter password. Thanks.
Minutes to Action: 1
What I liked: Being a classic 16-bit platformer, I was expecting to get three lives and maybe a continue, thankfully, Demon Crest employs the much friendlier idea of unlimited lives and continues, and will even place you midway through the level if you are killed by a boss. This makes for a much more enjoyable gaming experience, and instead of forcing you to learn the intricacies of each and every level and bad guy, you're allowed to focus more on the moment.
Firebrand's ability to float eases the difficulty up a bit too. He honestly doesn't control that well so it's nice to get off the ground and just fly it out. The early levels certainly don't seem to mind that you're floating over everything, and they even seem to encourage it. There's also a fun bit of vertical platforming that has you doing a combination of floating and wall clinging.
While the Mode 7 overworld was close to being overused on the Super Nintendo, I applaud developers who used it effectively. I can't imagine all this texture scaling and rotating made the developer or artists' jobs any easier, but it is one of those neat little reminders of the time.
What I didn't like: Uneven difficulty between the boss fights and the levels that precede them. Like I mentioned above, you could often just fly over the entire level without getting hit, and even if you did get hit, Firebrand has enough health to allow you to just fly through bad guys during your moment of invincibility. This means that you're generally unprepared to battle a boss who can not only move faster than you, but has a much larger range. It also would have been nice to just be able to challenge the boss immediately after losing instead of battling through another half level again. While they're not difficult, they're just exercises in tedium.
Demon's Crest also features little direction on what Firebrand's quest is and what you're donig in the game. One boss says he's going to stop me from fulfilling my goals, but I have no idea what those are! And once you get the freedom to roam about the world, there's no direction on where to go. Just some Roman numerals on the map maybe indicating the order of levels, though level one turns out to be the levels you already finished and level 2 is a town. So who really knows.
What I hated: While I tend to love games that begin with a bang and immediately toss you against a Big Boss, Demon's Crest goes about it all wrong. Bosses that open a game are supposed to be fun, they shouldn't be able to kill you, and they should be used to teach you the moves of the game. Demon's Crest basically fails at all of these, the fight isn't fun, you will die repeatedly your first time, and all you learn is that you can shoot fireballs out of your mouth. I'm fine with facing off against a big dragon right away, but don't make him so darn tough! This boss is the ultimate speed bump to get people to play your game. And maybe that's why no one has ever heard of Demon's Crest.
Gameplay: Could be tighter and more responsive, Firebrand could jump higher, maybe have a limited float, and why have a magic button with no magic? I think the game has some potential here as it becomes kind of a like a Mega Man clone where you collect different weapons and items, if I play on I'll find out.
Fun Factor: Well, after the horrendous opening battle, the game definitely did get more fun. While the bosses were typical 16-bit tough, and the levels weren't exactly inspired, at least things got better. Hey, the mini-game was fun, at least it taught me about the headbutt.
Graphics and Sound: The title screen was a real marvel, but I wasn't exactly impressed by much else. Actually, some of the character sprites in the shops and towns were pretty interesting with their twists of evil drawn in. The Mode 7 graphics are always welcome in my book, well, as long as they're used properly like they are in Demon's Crest. I really didn't notice any of the music.
Story: You can tell the game is from the 16-bit era as this platformer is nearly devoid of any story. You don't even know what your character's name is until one demon talks about Firebrand, a red demon who tried to destroy the world. Well, I'm a demon, and I'm red, so I'm probably Firebrand. But what's his mission? Who are these bosses I'm confronting? No answers to these questions. Instruction Manual required, I suppose.
Would I keep playing? Well, the cartridge is gone forever from my hands now, so probably not. Maybe if I had discovered this game a few years ago I would have spent a weekend on it.