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Screenshot of Firebrand traversing a spooky town.
Screenshot of Firebrand flying under some spikes.

A ghoulish hybrid

Gargoyle's Quest II at 25

It's been 25 years since the release of Gargoyle's Quest II, for NES in North America, and I've finally played it. And beaten it!

I started playing a year ago, leading up to Halloween, and it inspired some parts of the game I made that month, but I fell off until tonight, when the spirit of season seized me and I entered "The Ghoul Realm" once more.

Here's my review

Gargoyle's Quest II attempts to create a ghoulish hybrid—part platformer, part RPG. You control the gargoyle Firebrand, and work to resolve a mysterious crises that has befallen his land. I enjoyed the platforming sections. Some of it was "NES hard", which was as good and bad as ever. Firebrand's controls and abilites were great. I particularly enjoyed clinging to walls and flying momentarily. Neither of these abilities seem common of NES-era platformers.

Where the game fell down for me was in the RPG trappings. I say "trappings", because there's no depth to the RPG mechanics. Take the leveling system for example, you don't fill up bars to gain experience, it's a straight upgrade system, characterized as a leveling system. For another example take the currency you collect, which really only buys one thing—extra lives. Every time you discover an NPC salesmen, he's always hawking the same thing. Extra lives. The game signals that it is an RPG, but then it doesn't deliver. So in a way, it might have been stronger without the RPG elements at all.

Conclusion

I loved the art. It was both cute and spooky, and it was very well done. The platforming was both action-y and puzzle-y, and I enjoyed trying to master it. If the RPG elements were deeper, I think it would have been truly special game.

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