Demon's Crest Review


Demon’s Crest has lingered in the back of my mind for many years now. I’d often find myself firing up an emulator and trying the game for a few minutes, but never following through because I wanted to own the game before fully enjoying it. Now that I’m reviewing games, I couldn’t think of a better time to check it out. Plus, the Nintendo Switch Online service has given us the gift of Super Nintendo games, which includes Demon’s Crest, so I no longer have any excuses. That being said, I spent a few hours with Demon’s Crest yesterday, saw two different endings, and can confidently say that I’m ready to explore its joys and cons.

Fantastic Side-scrolling Action Gameplay

Demon’s Crest may have roots in the Ghosts ‘n Goblins series, but doesn’t quite play the same. The focus here is still on side-scrolling action, but because you play as Firebrand, you have a completely different set of actions available to you. Firebrand can walk and jump, but most notably, he can hover and fly, as well as cling to most walls. This is a radical change from the gameplay of its core series, not to mention the difficulty isn’t as high here. Firebrand is a blast to control and each of the game’s levels are designed to make full use of Firebrand’s arsenal.


Platforming isn’t the only thing to worry about here as the game is littered with a ton of different enemies, but they are all mostly standard foes. They can easily be taken out using Firebrand’s fiery breath, but if you’re not careful, they can sometimes overwhelm you. This didn’t really become an issue as the only deaths I experienced came during boss battles. Yes, the boss battles are the toughest part of this game, and while they can be frustrating, it is so satisfying when you finally win the battle. 

While all of the above makes for a fantastic experience, the side-scrolling action isn’t the only thing you’ll experience here as Demon’s Crest dives into other genres as well.

Action Adventure Elements with A Hint of RPG

Upon starting the game, you are forced to “complete” the first area. Waiting for you at the end is the area’s boss. After beating the boss, you will be given the earth crest, one of the game’s six magic crests. You actually start with the fire crest, which gives Firebrand the ability to breathe fire, so your main objective will be to find the remaining four. Once you leave this area, you will be thrown into a beautifully crafted world map featuring mode 7 graphics. This is the world you must navigate to find the remaining crests, as well as a number of other helpful items.

At what pace you choose to explore the world is up to you. The game’s main areas are marked with glowing dots on the map, and to find everything, you will have to revisit each area multiple times. As you uncover crests and other items, you will receive new abilities that can be used to reach new locations tucked away in each area. Some items will give you different methods of attack, such as the buster which can destroy certain walls. Some of the magic crests you recover will give you the ability to transform into other gargoyles. The earth crest, for example, will transform you into the Ground Gargoyle, which gives you the ability to charge through certain obstacles. Other transformations will lend you the ability to breathe underwater, fly through the sky, or even become more powerful. You’ll also be finding talismans that have different effects, and life containers that give you more health. Lastly, there are five scrolls and flasks to be found which let you buy and use spells and potions respectively.


You could say that Demon’s Crest is structured like a Metroid game in the sense that you’ll be doing plenty of backtracking and exploration. Except, instead of exploring one large map, you’ll be visiting many smaller ones. The game isn’t too difficult if you understand what it expects of you, which is a minor flaw. I got tripped up during my first time playing the game and stumbled upon a bad ending. I knew immediately that I had done something wrong because I never even came close to finding half of the game’s items. I immediately jumped back in, cleared as much of the first four areas as possible, and unlocked the last final two areas. Upping the game’s replay value is its super secret finale, which is easily unlocked by just collecting absolutely everything.

A Gorgeous Gothic Presentation

Demon’s Crest very much has a medieval, Gothic feel to it. This can be seen in its graphics and its soundtrack. Sprites depict demons, ghosts, and various creatures, all of which were crafted beautifully for the Super Nintendo. The environments themselves also look fantastic here and really showcase the game’s dark atmosphere. My personal favorite environment is the final level which has gorgeous stained glass windows, and bells sitting atop a tower that ring when hit. Which brings me to the game’s soundtrack. Capcom’s composers really shine here whether they are creating beautiful songs with their memorable Super Nintendo soundfont, or Gothic epics that utilize a haunting organ as its main instrument.

Conclusion

Demon’s Crest often appears on various hidden gems, underrated, and underappreciated lists that showcase Super Nintendo games. I always knew I’d like the game, however, I didn’t expect it to be a game that I’d want to play again in the future. It really is one of the great hidden gems of the Super Nintendo library and definitely deserves a look if you enjoy action platformers. Despite one minor flaw - which didn't ultimately affect my score - with its structure, I'd definitely recommend checking out this game.

Final Score: +3

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