If you listened to our SNES Draft, you know that I like Demon’s Crest. You also know that it’s a game not many people played at the time, or even afterwards, which is why I knew I could leave it until my last pick and no one would pick it. That is a damn shame, because Demon’s Crest is one of the finest games of the 16-bit era. It is really and truly one of my top five SNES games, and almost certainly one of my Top Twenty Games of All-Time. In fact, my current desktop on my work PC is a Demon’s Crest one. And, lucky us, it’s a horror themed game.
For those not in the know, Demon’s Crest is the final game in a trilogy of Ghosts ‘n’ Goblins spinoffs starring the Red Demon Firebrand (also known as Red Arremer, or “that fucking gargoyle bastard from Ghosts ‘n’ Goblins.) In this game, Firebrand has been locked away in a coliseum by Phalanx, another demon who wishes to rule the Ghoul Realm. But, in one of the coolest opening gameplay sequences ever, Firebrand defeats the zombie dragon housed in the coliseum and escapes. At that point, you guide him around the Ghoul Realm collecting various items to strengthen him for the battle against Phalanx for control. The game’s structure is somewhat Metroidvania, but the world isn’t interconnected, you guide Firebrand to the various locales via an overworld map, but multiple visits to many places are required in order to gain all of the items and powers and face the true final boss. Returning to different stages with new powers will gain you access to new paths and areas in those stages.
The games isn’t particularly horrific in the standard sense, especially considering that you are the demon in this game. Of course, the Ghoul Realm is a creepy place, filled with creepy monsters and other demons, but the scares are limited as you are one of its denizens. The music helps to provide a great creepy atmosphere as you move through the various areas of the Realm. Some people don’t like it, but I love it. The SNES soundchip creates rich soundscapes that I would liken to classic horror scores, featuring a lot of organ and string sounds, and they really behoove the mood of this world inhabited by the damned.
Gameplay is very similar to Capcom’s earlier Mega Man X, if you couldn’t tell by my description, and for my money this game is every bit as good as the original Mega Man X, and better than the sequels. Each crest that Firebrand finds completely transforms him, and each different Firebrand sprite is great looking. They’re all extremely detailed, as are all of his animations. He breathes when idle, when he flies, he pumps his arms, this game was obviously crafted by people who loved the medium and what they were doing. And the enemies aren’t taken from the standard stock of Universal Monsters and the like that Castlevania so often mined. Here, there are tons of creative enemies and bosses that are wholly original creations (though some monsters from both eastern and western mythology do appear, but even they are less frequently seen ones, such as the wendigo, for the most part).
Ultimately, I love this game so much, I’m not sure I can do it justice. It’s a lovingly crafted 16-bit adventure in the style of Mega Man X and Metroid, with a coat of horror paint. If that doesn’t sell you, I’m not sure what can. There’s a ton of attention to detail and it shows everywhere. This game deserves a spot in any SNES or horror fan’s library.
Images in the article were borrowed from Hardcore Gaming 101’s excellent Ghosts ‘n’ Goblins series article.
- Released: 1994
- System: SNES
- Publisher: Capcom