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Ghosts 'n Goblins

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Ghouls 'n Ghosts
Super Ghouls 'n Ghosts

Page 3:
Makaimura for Wonderswan
Ultimate Ghosts 'n Goblins
Ghosts 'n Goblins: Gold Knights

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Gargoyle's Quest
Gargoyle's Quest II
Demon's Crest

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Maximo
Maximo vs The Army of Zin

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Nazo Makaimura
Makaimura Online
Magyechon Online
Cameos

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Gargoyle's Quest: / レッドアリーマー: Makaimura Gaiden (Red Arremer): Makaimura Gaiden - Game Boy (1990)

American Cover

Japanese Cover

In 1990, Capcom decided to give the lovable red gargoyle character who killed us so many times his own game. Red Arremer is a side-story to the regular series, hence the "Gaiden" adjunct. In the West aptly named Gargoyle's Quest (the hero is also called Firebrand), it is a major departure from the GnG games in many ways. Foremost is the game's structure. There's a lot more depth than the simplistic platforming nature of its host series. RPG-like exploration and leveling elements have been mixed in, and the level design resembles a mix of Ninja Gaiden and Mega Man more than GnG.

The story of Gargoyle's Quest revolves around a war between the Ghoul realm and a similar realm from an alternate universe, from which an army called the "Destroyers" is threatening to wipe out the inhabitants of Firebrand's homeworld. Thus, Firebrand is chosen to enter the alternate universe and take down the Destroyers' leader, King Breager. To do this, however, he will need to acquire artifacts that will give him the ability to overcome various obstacles. Obtaining these artifacts usually involves helping one of the leaders of the realm and going on various fetch quests.

From the outset of his adventure, Firebrand has very limited abilities. He can shoot one weak, slow-moving projectile at a time, jump only a few feet off the ground, and fly for a very short duration. However, as he goes on the aforementioned fetch quests and acquires artifacts, he will gain more powerful attacks and be able to jump higher, fly longer, and also gain more health. This is similar to the overall structure of Metroid, but Gargoyle's Quest has a particular vice that Metroid lacks; it's linear. You're not given the freedom to search around the demon realm looking for the next artifact yourself. You're always told exactly where to go and you can't progress any further until you find what you're looking for. Fortunately, the design of the stages and overall structure of the game keeps this from being a crippling flaw.

The platforming stages are all bound together by an overworld map. Oddly enough, like an RPG, you get into random battles here as well. They play out similarly to the battles in Zelda II, where you appear in a small stage, facing a group of enemies. Random battles happen somewhat regularly and are a bit annoying because they're just a waste of time. You don't gain EXP in this game; your only reward for the random battles are vials, which are essentially the currency of the Ghoul Realm, and these are found in great abundance in the platforming stages. Plus, the only thing you can buy with them are extra lives.

The biggest flaw, however, is the game's difficulty. It's severely unbalanced. On the one hand, you have the platforming. Like many games of its day, some of the platforming segments just weren't thought out all that well, with really badly placed enemies and very unreasonable jumps to make. Often, you'll be presented with the choice of either taking a hit from an enemy or falling into a bed of spikes/lava and dying. While the enemy placement isn't nearly as evil-spirited as in the original NES Ninja Gaiden, it can still get pretty annoying. On the other hand, you have the boss fights, which are a joke. They often amount to little more than a shoot out. Simply plug your enemy with as many shots as fast as you can and they'll go down. No analyzing patterns, no finding weak points.

Visually, the game looks about on par with most other Game Boy games. There's some nice details in the backgrounds that sell the atmosphere well. Conversely, the music is pretty standout. As per usual for Capcom, it's a really catchy, but surprisingly dramatic soundtrack when it needs to be.

All this summed up makes Gargoyle's Quest a pretty enjoyable game that's deeper than your standard handheld fare of the day. Sadly, it's extremely short, but is still satisfying enough to feel complete. A very welcome departure for the franchise.


Gargoyle's Quest

Gargoyle's Quest

Gargoyle's Quest



Gargoyle's Quest II: The Demon Darkness / レッドアリーマーII (Red Arremer II) / 魔界村外伝 (Makaimura Gaiden): The Demon Darkness - NES, Game Boy (1992)

American Cover

Japanese Famicom Cover

Japanese Game Boy Cover

Gargoyle's Quest was fairly successful, so naturally, Capcom made a sequel. There was still a Game Boy version a year later, but the development team originally transferred their work to the NES, which is also the only version that made it to Western shores. An odd move in 1992, when the SNES and Genesis were dominating the console market. Gargoyle's Quest II is the typical Capcom sequel. It's almost the same game as its predecessor with new levels and some tweaking, plus there's a lot of perks involved with the more powerful NES version.

Gargoyle's Quest II doesn't seem like it has anything to do with the story of the first game, although the game is generally considered a prequel. Our hero, once again the titular Red Arremer (or Firebrand in the West), is a young demon who lives in the town of Etruria. At the beginning of the game, he commences his training to hone his skills as a warrior in some sort of alternate dimension. However, while he's gone, a mysterious darkness sweeps over his town. He returns to find everyone dead. The king of the town, Morock, bestows upon Firebrand the Spectre's Fingernail, and with his dying breath, sends Firebrand on a mission to save the Ghoul Realm from this evil.

As mentioned before, Gargoyle's Quest II plays pretty much the same game as the first game; the structure essentially identical. Once you set out on your journey, a series of town-hopping and fetch-questing ensues and you'll have to help each monarch of each town by finding an item in a dungeon, and in turn, they will grant you a new power that allows you to press on farther into the adventure. The structure and the style of level design is also the same, just with slightly more depth and better execution. The design of the environments is a lot smarter: The stages now much more closely resemble the later released Mega Man X, with lots of vertical wall-jumping segments. Enemy placement and unreasonably precarious jumps can still be an issue, but they're much easier to deal with in this installment, thanks to the greater view radius on the NES. The fact that everything is zoomed in closer is the most annoying change in the Game Boy port. On the world map, you can only see about half of what you see in the NES version. The sprites are all bigger, but it appears that you're moving much slower when it's really about the same speed as in the NES version. This is especially annoying in some of the stages, because things you're meant to see just at the edge of the screen in the NES version are totally obscured here. This makes some of the heavy pit-jumping segments with moving platforms a nightmare now because you have to guess where they'll be as you jump. The world map still ties all the areas together, but the random battles have been removed, thankfully.

One of the biggest improvements are the boss battles. While they're still a bit on the easy side, at least they now require a bit of figuring out strategies and can't be won simply by finding a nice spot in a corner and mashing the B button and jumping occasionally when the boss feels like throwing something at you. The bosses are a lot more aggressive and have more devious ways of dealing with you, often using attacks that require you to move constantly. You'll also have to make fairly good use of the terrain in almost every battle.

Graphically, it goes without saying that Gargoyle's Quest II looks way better than the first game. The infinitely larger color selection and added levels of depth and detail on the NES make the games look a generation apart despite their overall similarities, and the Game Boy graphics look nicer and less obviously tiled, too. The design is also a lot more dark feeling and fitting for a place called the "Ghoul Realm", with some really menacing and macabre areas. On the NES it is one of the best looking games for the platform.

The music holds a similar style to the first game, but the composition is much better. There's a lot of variety, and the themes never get old. They do a really good job of simulating gothic, orchestral music with the NES's primitive sound chip.

In all, Gargoyle's Quest II is better than the first game, but both still play in the same league. They're both great, highly entertaining games, but Gargoyle's Quest II's tweaks give it a slight edge over the former. Sadly, it does nothing about the first game's insufficient length.

On the Game Boy, the game has been extended somewhat with the addition of new areas. Some of these areas use entirely new design motifs never seen in the NES version, such as a slippery ice cave and a swamp with spikes that rise up from the ground and lower back down. None of these areas are obligatory, as making them so would alter the course of the game, but they're still pretty interesting to visit and tend to be more intense than most of the areas converted from the NES version.


Gargoyle's Quest II (NES)

Gargoyle's Quest II (NES)

Gargoyle's Quest II (NES)

Gargoyle's Quest II (NES)



Comparison Screenshots


Demon's Crest / デモンス ブレイゾン 魔界村 紋章編 (Demon's Blazon: Makaimura Monshouhen) - SNES (1994)

European Cover

Japanese Cover

Demon's Crest is what happens on the rare occasion when Capcom decides to take one of their dying IPs and reinvent it thoroughly. A year prior, Capcom took Mega Man, a long stagnating and formulaic franchise, and updated it for a new generation of gamers with Mega Man X, giving the series a new look and feel and throwing in a whole mess of new features. Plus they took away those goddamned disappearing blocks, which was probably the best part of the whole deal. Perhaps Capcom's tendency to clone games to the point of obscenity and then reinvent them to shock us all is a genius marketing ploy, but one thing's for certain; when Capcom gets off their lazy asses and actually puts their collective minds together on something, the results are usually stunning.

Demon's Crest is quite possibly the most dramatic example of this. Capcom took the whimsical and simplistic Makaimura brand and created something so far detached from it that it's hard to believe such a game could emerge from such a franchise. Demon's Crest is the third game starring Red Arremer as the player character. It obviously expands on the elements introduced in the two Gargoyle's Quest games, but is a stand-alone product, neither directly tieing into those games nor the Makaimura games. The only common constant is the Red Arremer, still assuming the moniker "Firebrand" in the localized version.

The backstory of Demon's Crest states that one day, six crests fell from the heavens into the demon realm. These crests carried immense powers, able to control the forces of the elements and even time itself. A great war was waged over who was to claim ownership of the crests. After years of battle, one demon stood victorious: the Red Demon, Firebrand. But Firebrand did not claim his victory unscathed. Wounded and exhausted, Firebrand took the crests and fled from the battlefield. But before he could get to safety, he was attacked by the Arch Demon, Phalanx. Sensing his inevitable defeat, Firebrand dropped the crests to the earth below so that Phalanx could not claim them for himself. Unable to fight any longer, Firebrand was struck down and imprisoned, and Phalanx, who was able to recover most of the crests, became the new ruler of the demon realm.

Demon's Crest begins with Firebrand escaping his prison in the coliseum, and setting out to recover the crests and claim vengeance upon Phalanx. All the while, he's being hunted by Arma, the general of the demon army, who carries several of the fallen crests. Firebrand's options at this point are limited, however, as many obstacles lay in his way that can't be passed without the power of the crests. Demon's Crest has a similar structure to Metroid and the more recent 2D Castlevanias in this sense, as each power-up you find opens up new parts of the world.

Aside from Firebrand's innate abilities to shoot fire, cling to walls, and fly on a single plane, each crest Firebrand finds unlocks a new form for him to manifest. The abilities of these forms differ greatly:

Fire Crest - Red Gargoyle

Firebrand's standard form. The fire crest was shattered into 5 pieces upon falling to the earth. Each piece of the crest grants Firebrand a new power in this form. At first, all he can do is shoot fire. But as he progresses, he'll be able to use the Buster, which breaks blocks, the Tornado, which creates floating platforms that allow him to extend his jumping height, the Claw, which creates a sticky coating on precarious surfaces, and the Demon Fire, which is a very powerful blast. In this form, Firebrand can also smash background objects with a headbutt. This form gives Firebrand the most flexibility and won't be obsolete until you find the Time Crest.

Earth Crest - Ground Gargoyle

This form of Firebrand's has stunted its wing growth, so he is unable to fly. However, this form grants him the ability to dash. Dashing into things breaks certain objects, which is required to access certain areas of the game. In this form, Firebrand can shoot a powerful blast that travels along the ground, but his capabilities at tackling airborne enemies are severely limited.

Air Crest - Aerial Gargoyle

This form has highly advanced pterodactyl-like wings which allow Firebrand to fly in any direction and withstand powerful winds that would blow his other forms away. It can shoot a blade of wind which is extremely powerful, but doesn't hurt some enemies.

Water Crest - Tidal Gargoyle

This form is the only one that allows Firebrand to survive underwater. Though useless on land, this form is extremely powerful in the water, able to shoot strong jetstreams that tear through just about anything.

Time Crest - Legendary Gargoyle

This is Firebrand's true form. This form has all the abilities of the Red Gargoyle, but has extremely hard skin that doubles Firebrand's health count.

Infinite Crest - Ultimate Gargoyle

As its name implies, this form renders all the others obsolete. It's a fusion of all the other forms, and has the unique ability to charge its fire blast, Mega Man-style. This form is only available through a password, which is given to you after beating the game, and is required to fight the real end boss and see the true ending.

On top of the variety that comes with having half a dozen forms, Firebrand also finds various items scattered throughout the demon realm. The most useful of these are various Talismans he can equip that give him various traits such as increased attack or defense power, faster attack speed, and greater probability of receiving health or coins after defeating an enemy. Firebrand can also collect urns and vellums, which allow him to carry potions and magic spells, respectively. Not only that, but Firebrand can also extend his life meter by collecting health extensions.

The best part about the game is the boss fights. There's at least two in every area, not counting minor mid-bosses. Not only are the bosses huge and intimidating, but also very challenging. There's quite a bit of strategy involved in every fight, and you'll need to make very wise decisions. It'll likely take you several tries just to develop a working game plan during many of these epic battles. One fight in particular is commonly cited as one of the most difficult boss fights ever.

Things aren't perfect however: Demon's Crest is tragically short. Not excruciatingly short like Gargoyle's Quest, but for a game with such an enjoyable engine, it's a shame that one couldn't crank more than a few hours out of it. Another annoyance is that despite the progress you make, the game does not have a save feature, and like its closest kin, Mega Man X, puts you throug the ordeal of an archaic password feature.

One of the most distinctive aspects of Demon's Crest is its atmosphere. It's one of the most dark and moody games on the SNES. Part of this comes from the game's setting. The world, though macabre, is beautifully detailed with lots of story and history in its backgrounds. Inhabiting the stages are extremely detailed and well animated sprites. Firebrand in particular has some really impressive animation, especially when he dies and his skin and muscle tissue melt off his bones in several layers. It can be likened to the later released Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, which shows a similar sense of attention to detail and sprite animation to accentuate an otherwise simple approach to the graphics.

Also assisting the game's brooding atmosphere is the music, which is simply brilliant. Not quite the creepy, gothic, Castlevania-esque score you'd expect for such a demonic game, and definitely not the bombastic synth rock that generates from most of Capcom's other action titles. The soundtrack in Demon's Crest is actually quite low-key, melancholic, and entirely unique amongst its contemporaries. If the visuals don't sell you on the game's atmosphere, the music definitely will.

Between the play mechanics, the world design and the overall aesthetics, Demon's Crest is like a combination of all the best elements from Mega Man X, Super Metroid and Castlevania. Although a bit on the short side, Demon's Crest is entirely satisfying and uses what little time it has to blow you away with nearly every second of play time. This is one of the finest action titles on SNES, and without a doubt the crowning achievement of the Ghosts 'n Goblins line.

Sadly, Demon's Crest is most famous for being a major flop, only spoken of by the most hardcore gamers around. Because of this, it's unlikely there will ever be another 2D action game starring the lovable Red Arremer. One thing is for certain, the Mega Man ZX takes a lot of its inspiration from Demon's Crest, with some of the resemblances being a bit on the uncanny side. If you enjoy Demon's Crest and want more, give Mega Man ZX a try, or vice versa.

Quick Info:

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Designer:

  • Ryo Miyazaki

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Demon's Crest (SNES)

Demon's Crest (SNES)

Demon's Crest (SNES)

Demon's Crest (SNES)

Demon's Crest (SNES)

Demon's Crest (SNES)

Demon's Crest (SNES)

Demon's Crest (SNES)

Demon's Crest (SNES)

Demon's Crest (SNES)



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Intro
Ghosts 'n Goblins

Page 2:
Ghouls 'n Ghosts
Super Ghouls 'n Ghosts

Page 3:
Makaimura for Wonderswan
Ultimate Ghosts 'n Goblins
Ghosts 'n Goblins: Gold Knights

Page 4:
Gargoyle's Quest
Gargoyle's Quest II
Demon's Crest

Page 5:
Maximo
Maximo vs The Army of Zin

Page 6:
Nazo Makaimura
Makaimura Online
Magyechon Online
Cameos

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