Rediscovering: Demon’s Crest

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From the old dead forum, Demon’s Crest!

When the SNES was still king there were popular games and there were good games, and they weren’t always the same. Sometimes a game would slip through the cracks, and those in the know would talk about how awesome it was while the majority of players didn’t know it existed.

Demon’s Crest is such a game. It is moderately well known now, but it was an unknown sensation back in 1994. It is a sequel to the Demon’s Quest series, which is a sort of parallel series to Ghouls ‘n Ghosts. In this game the player controls one of the bad guys (the Red Arremer) through a land more dangerous, more complicated, and more inconceivably beautiful than its predecessors.

So, just to drive the point home, it’s Ghouls n Ghosts for player who wants a little bit more of the same, but awesomer.

Download the ROM and let’s play it!

The first thing you notice is the complexity of the controls. It’s no Whirlo with three different jump buttons, but it uses all four of the SNES’ face buttons, compared with Ghouls n Ghosts which uses only two.

It sticks to the SNES standard for attack and jump, but adds magic and special for those extra fun things you can do. Like head-butt statues in the background to reveal items and the occasional monster.

Unlike Ghouls, where Arthur could only move, jump (and double jump) and shoot, Firebrand can jump, shoot, change weapons, collect and use items, cling to the sides of things, and hover. However, much like MegaMan, he cannot duck, so sometimes shooting an item or enemy requires some creative moves.

Most of these things – items, weapons, additional skills – aren’t available to start. The game is very good at using them to mete out access to new levels based on what you’ve accomplished so far.

And this was my main complaint when the game was new: It’s not clear where you should go. Like MegaMan there’s a fair amount of experimentation, flying around the world map and playing a level only to find you can’t progress very far. Unlike MegaMan you don’t have to play to the boss to find out you’re fucked, usually there’s an obstacle near the start of the stage that you can’t yet surmount.

Oh right, the shape changing. It’s been a while since I played this last. When you beat a boss, you collect a new crest or other item, which grant you new powers. For example, one might change your shot from fire to buster giving you the ability to destroy the rocks that previously blocked your path. Another transforms you into a different sort of demon, like the Ground Gargoyle which can push large objects and use a short range devastating ground attack, and can jump higher but not fly or hover.

While talking about this game, elend said:

All those weird abilities and forms you can transform into, felt kinda tacked on and not really necessary. Out of all the potions, talismans and abilities I not even used half of it and was able to complete the game.

I didn’t really believe it, until I beat the game without finding three of the different gargoyle forms, two of the weapon types, and four of five talismans. There are several paths you can take, and obviously they’re not all required. I’m not sure if I prefer a game where I can skip most of it and just win, or one where I don’t have to intentionally try to see and play it all.

[ Oct 13 2019 ]

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