It’s good that there’s a clear niche market for difficult video games. On top of that now more than ever it seems there’s a clear divide between games that implement good design features with unique challenges the players learn from. Instead of, you know, just arbitrary increases in damage and health and such. That’s why Dark Souls is now considered a great franchise and other games, the names of which I clearly didn’t take the time to research, aren’t.
Or at the very least players can tell the difference. That said, it isn’t like well-designed but difficult games haven’t existed before. If I had a classic difficult game that I needed to list then that game would have to be the one and only Demon’s Crest.
Put your war face on boy! You about to get spanked!
The game is specifically based on the Ghosts and Goblins series by Capcom. You pay as one of the red demons that once plagued Arthur. I believe their called Red Arremers in Japan.
I don’t god damn know what it means.
Part of the Gargoyle’s Quest series Demon’s Crest follows the journey of Firebrand. The intro explains that Firebrand fought over the possession of six magical crests (representing different elements yadda, yadda, yadda) that fell to the world. There was a massive war and in the end the last two standing holding the crests were Firebrand and the giant Demon Dragon. Because that’s a thing and it’s awesome.
Firebrand defeated the Demon Dragon but in his injured state from fighting a giant fucking Demon Dragon another demon named Phalanx defeated him and stole all six crests save for a single piece of the crest of Fire that Firebrand managed to keep. For good measure Phalanx locked Firebrand in a coliseum with the zombified (I think, I mean it looks like a zombie) remains of the Demon Dragon.
Shit tuckering fuck!
And that’s where the game begins. No I’m serious. You press start and you are locked in a coliseum with a zombie demon dragon. You are a red demon who can shoot fire and that’s where you begin. I’m pretty sure the description for that is “metal as fuck”.
You know. How the kids say it.
Anyway, this game is noted for being challenging to newcomers. Mostly because when you press start you’re locked in a coliseum with a Zombie Demon Dragon and if you didn’t watch the intro you don’t know why. Your health bar isn’t visible at this point and here comes this giant enemy sprite running for you.
So yeah. A bit intimidating.
However if you give it a few tries (or you read any game articles about the title at the time) you’d learn that Firebrand comes packaged with a few abilities. One he can shoot fire from his mouth and two, and this was the thing in 1994 that blew my damn mind, he can hover in mid-air. On command.
Imagine growing up in the age of platforming, losing countless lives to pits. Just random fucking pits. Pits fucking everywhere you land. Then you hear about a character that can stop falling and even move left and right while floating in midair.
To someone who never had such a feature before it was remarkably enabling, let me tell you, I can’t speak for others but I cackled.
So after a few tries one can easily determine the cause and effect of the Zombie Demon Dragon’s (No I will not get tired of saying that!) attacks. That’s right. Cause and effect. Not pattern. That’s the first lesson; enemies will react differently depending on what you do.
If you have enough cunning and learn you’ll eventually beat the dragon and escape. And then beat the dragon again because it keeps chasing you.
The first level of the game after forces you to learn how to control Firebrand’s position in the air, his fire shot and his ability to stick in place on walls. It does so through proper level design where you have to proceed the right way to advance. Soon enough you’ll find yourself facing bosses (one mid boss and one end stage boss) both of which are more than capable of beating rookie players into the dust. After all, by this point you’ll only have a small bit of health to keep you safe.
If you beat the first stage boss you’ll be rewarded with the first crest, that of the Earth that gives you a brand spanking new form with a different fireball attack and different abilities. From there several stages open up for your access. There are several more crests to get before the final battle with Phalanx and that isn’t counting health upgrades, magic scrolls to record spells, relics to boost abilities, and vials to hold potions.
So there’s plenty to find, alternate routes for alternate bosses (if you can find it and you’ve got the right gear) and three different endings depending on how much you collect. I assure you, it doesn’t get any easier either.
In terms of classic SNES games, especially that created by Capcom it’s almost unknown when compared to fellow classics from the time period. But, it’s still a great, well made, challenging game and definitely one you can learn to beat.
So why not try it?
And so too does this work exist.