Gargoyle’s Quest is one of those games I had no idea existed until I got back into retro gamin over the past year. Turns out this is the first in a trilogy of games that ended with Demon’s Crest for SNES! It stars the evil monster Firebrand (from the Ghouls and Ghosts game series) who turns out isn’t so evil after all!
The story is simple but better than it has any right to be for a Gameboy game. A long time ago, the Ghoul realm was almost destroyed by a great army of Destroyers. Just before the Realm was wiped out, a great fire destroyed the Destroyer army and the Ghoul Realm was saved! You start the story as Firebrand, and the realm has just been attacked by the Destroyer army once again! Throughout the story, more is revealed about the past battle and who Firebrand really is. There are a couple cool twists too! I was pleasantly surprised by the story – it sets the tone for a great Action/RPG/Platform game! It’s also the only game where zombies and ghouls are the good guys!
The core gameplay of this game is a 2D action platform game. You take control of Firebrand, guiding him through levels with jumping, and cool flying ability (that allows Firebrand to float for a period of time), wall climbing, and fireballs to dispatches his enemies with! The jumping and platforming are really challenging, and make it very satisfying a level is finally completed!
Apart from the 2D platforming and action, the game also has a topdown view more akin to RPGS where you can guide Firebrand through an overworld map, finding towns, and talking to various entities! I was originally a bit turned off by this as it wasn’t as action oriented as I was expecting, but by the end of the adventure, I liked the dynamic change of pace between the two types of gameplay offered. The adventure elements (although limited) also helped make the game feel more epic.
At the start of the adventure, Firebrand is a pathetic excuse for a demon warrior. He can barely take a hit or fly for long, but I soon discovered that this game has some RPG elements too! Throughout the adventure, Firebrand can increase his health, get a higher jump, increase his float time, and get more fire weapons! Each time I found an upgrade, I was able to get through levels I previously was not, and the level design continued to get more intense and challenging!
The RPG elements don’t end there though – on the overworld map, you can actually get into random encounters similar to Zelda 2: The Adventure of Link. The encounters force Firebrand to dispatch a couple bad guys before moving forward. You are often rewarded with Vials – the currency of the world which can be used to buy 1-ups from towns. While I thought the random encounters were cool, they seemed to occur a little too much for my liking and slowed down traversing to new levels on the overworld map. The currency on the other hand felt really forced as the only thing that can be purchased are 1-ups. It would have been to cool spend money on other things that were more meaningful like making Firebrand stronger.
In terms of graphics, the game looks fantastic for a Gameboy game with tons of different 2D platforming environments that actually look and play differently! The overworld map and towns are less impressive with repeated graphics but still gets the job done. The music is good with a cool overworld theme and gothic-sounding tracks, although I was annoyed by the overly long victory music that is played after each random battle.
In terms of game length, it can be beaten in a few hours – which is perfect for a Gameboy title. If you don’t complete the game in one sitting though, the game has manageable 8-digit passwords! All players need to do is go to town (of which there are many) and speak to the password ghoul who provides it free of charge. If players have a game over, they will automatically respond at the most recent password ghoul they have spoken too.
In summary, I was pleasantly surprised by Gargoyle’s Quest. It’s a unique hybrid of 2D action platforming with RPG elements. Although difficult, it has great graphics and gameplay that make it worthy of some playtime! Overall, I give this game a 8/10.
Final Score: 8/10