GSQ6: Demons ‘n darkness

GameSpite Quarterly 6 - 39. Demon's Crest (Capcom, 1994) by Nicola Nomali

I have no idea why I’ve never played Demon’s Crest. There is nothing about the game that seems like I wouldn’t love it. I like the Super NES; I like Gargoyle’s Quest; I like skill-driven non-linear platforming. And after reading this missive, it absolutely seems like the sort of game I’d want to take home and whisper intimate secrets to. Well, except the whole “grim and evil” aesthetic of the thing. I never have been a fan of the whole darker-than-though approach to game design, which is probably what’s kept me from pulling the trigger all this time. I dunno, though. It sounds like this is a sacrifice worth making. If… you’ll pardon the figure of speech.

Contrary to what this retrospective posits, though, Demon’s Crest isn’t completely forgotten! While hunting down an image for the link banner, I discovered that the game and its hero remain remarkably popular among, shall we say, a certain niche of aspiring artists. Yes, like so many other washed up Japanese starlets, poor Firebrand’s only hope seems to be the porn circuit.

Incidentally, yes, this is an article from GameSpite Quarterly 6. I say “incidentally,” but I suppose “coincidentally” would be more appropriate. Not “coincidentally” in the “happy accident” sense, becausethere’s nothing accidental about this piece being posted today. No, it simply coincides with the issue going on sale tomorrow morning.

Wow, that was certainly an inelegant way to say “GameSpite Quarterly 6 will be available tomorrow.” I blame Daylight Savings. All that extra sleep left me loopy.

18 thoughts on “GSQ6: Demons ‘n darkness

  1. Demon’s Crest is pretty good. It has a lot of exploration and backtracking elements from megaman x. There are several endings, depending on how much of the game you beat before going to the final fight.
    On the bad side enemies have few frames of animation and the sound and music aren’t good.

    • I really love this game. I actually like the music quite a bit too, though I guess not everyone does. :) I’d love to see Firebrand pop up in maybe a DS or 3DS game of his own…whatever system it’d be on, it deserves gorgeous 2D visuals.

  2. I’m not strong enough to take on Demon’s Crest. The bosses, with their mountains of health, erratic, constantly-shifting patterns, and multiple forms, are enough to make a proud man weep.

  3. Good lord, I love this game. It’s just beautiful, and challenging, and full of secrets. And working toward that final secret boss is simply heart-palpitating.

  4. “Yes, like so many other washed up Japanese starlets, poor Firebrand’s only hope seems to be the porn circuit.”

    And like so many non-washed up starlets too, for that matter. That wacky Rule 34. =/

    I never really beat Demon’s Crest, but I loved its atmosphere, especially those little touches with things you can bust with your head. I always decapitate that skeleton hanging out of the window in town.

    Sadly, Demon’s Crest’s absence is yet another of the many growing reasons for why the SNES side of Virtual Console fails so badly.

  5. The aesthetic is not too different from Castlevania – I wouldn’t use that as a reason to stay away.

    I liked the game when I played through the first time – I was surprised and pleased with the backtracking levels. Some time later, I played through again, realized just how much I liked it, and then discovered the REAL ending with the fully powered-up Firebrand. Mind. Blown.

  6. The game is best viewed as a sort of proto-SotN. Impressive stuff. I still replay this one from time to time, and I, at least, think it’s one of the best SNES games out there.

  7. Yeah, Demon’s Crest isn’t grim-dark in the same manner as so many of today’s action games. Heck, some of the NPCs border on whimsical. Odd that you feel that way since you cut your teeth on Castlevania/GnG and its spin-offs as a lad.

    Whoever wrote this article nailed what I always felt about the game’s atmosphere. The demon realm is a definitely a dark and unpleasant place, but it still has an aura of beauty and majesty to it despite its state of disrepair. I can’t think of many games that replicate that feeling, outside of maybe the Legacy of Kain/Soul Reaver games.

  8. I used to like this game when I first bought it in the form of a Japanese bootleg cart. Somehow I managed to get the best ending without understanding what some of the relics did, as it was in Japanese. But after that, I could never bring myself to play through it again. The sound effects leave a lot to be desired (specially that annoying wing flutter that made my Firebrand stay mostly on the ground); the music, while atmospheric, wasn’t special; and the stages weren’t interesting enough to make me come back and explore for hidden treasure. I think these are some of the reasons Demon’s Crest never reached the classic status of Megaman X, Super Metroid, or Castlevania 4. It just fell short.

    • I’m not entirely sure all the changes that were present in the U.S. versus the Japanese release. I do know, though, that in the U.S. version, you have to find _every_ upgrade to be able to fight the uber-final boss. Hope you stocked up on Ginseng, you’re gonna need it. :P

  9. Very few games of its vintage that had the same attention to graphical detail as Demon’s Crest. It’s like Castlevania’s world, reimagined by Capcom’s sprite and background artists.

    Some of the enemies are simple, but Firebrand’s many forms are really special. You can tell the artists loved that game. More than the US packaging designers anyways! :)

    • See, I disagree. I absolutely love Gargoyle’s Quest, but in the obligatory comparison between Demon’s Crest and similarly themed games like, say, Castlevania 4 and Super Ghosts ‘N Goblins, Firebrand’s game just doesn’t have the same amount of detail. I always felt ripped off after buying it because its intro is amazing, but feels like a deliberate trap to lure players that give it a quick try into buying it : the giant dragon is probably cooler than any other boss in the game, and the first stage is absolutely beautifully and full of detail; but the rest of the stages aren’t even as thick with atmosphere or as detailed!

      • And I would have to disagree with you :) found the lush attention to detail in Demon’s Crest to be one its most memorable features. The farther I delved ito its world, the more it impressed me, and I happily replayed it more than most of my SNES collection. That I can still hum so much of the haunting soundtrack actually surprises me… *goes to look up DC music on youtube*

  10. I remember according to the Nintendo Power 100 greatest list that had this on there that Demon’s Crest once registered negative sales for having more returns than sales.

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