Fans of the Ghosts 'n Goblins series should be familiar with the rather annoying little demon Firebrand; he would be the main reason Arthur would spend his time walking around the many levels of the games in his underwear. Capcom obviously thought enough of the guy to give him a series of his own, which began life on the Game Boy systems. Not content with these titles, Capcom decided to give the little guy his own Super Nintendo action release and the made it every bit as difficult as the Ghosts 'n Goblins titles as well. Okay, maybe not quite that tough, but you get the general idea. And while this game never made it to last gen's Wii Virtual Console, it's pleasing to see Capcom take the time to bring it to the Wii U eShop's VC — bonus points for re-releasing this in time for Halloween, too.
To help make things a little easier, the control system used in Demon's Crest is lightyears ahead of the Ghosts & Goblins series. Not only do you have full mid-air control of Firebrand in this one, but you also have a wide range of attacks and special moves. You can jump and hover in mid-air, which makes avoiding some of the nasty obstacles in the game a tad easier. You also have the ability to grab onto walls, as well as thrust your shoulder into objects to break them open. But as helpful as all of these moves are, it's your ability to breath fire that will prove the most invaluable tool of all.
As if your wealth of gameplay moves isn't enough, you will also acquire items throughout your quest called Transformation Crests that will allow you to change into a much more powerful demon with special abilities, ranging from swimming, cutting vines, jumping higher, and reducing the amount of damage you take from enemies. You can even purchase items such as potions that allow you to use magical spells that will definitely come in handy on some of the tougher levels and later bosses. It is worth mentioning that this game is not for the less-seasoned gamer and should be approached with caution for those that tend to find themselves easily frustrated. This is a game that's going to take a lot of playing in order to beat, so prepare yourself accordingly. But other than the stiff degree of difficulty, this is a terrific game with a surprising amount of depth for a side scroller.
Fans of the Ghouls & Ghosts series are going to feel right at home in the nicely constructed worlds of Demon's Crest. Each area has a very spooky and distinctive look to it, complete with the high level of detail we've come to expect from Capcom. You'll see everything from graveyards and towers to the underwater city of Atlantis. Since this was one of the Super Nintendo's later games, you can rest assured that the visuals are some of the best the Super NES has to offer and the sheer level of detail, even in the distant backgrounds, is astonishing. You'll even see some nice drop-shadow effects when you're near the flames on the torches. The bosses in the game are huge, but the animation on some of the larger ones isn't quite as fluid as you might, but given the size and detail of these bosses, it's difficult to complain.
If you've played any of the Ghouls & Ghosts games, you're going to have a pretty good idea of what the music in Demon's Crest is like. It features a spooky, pipe-organ style theme in most tracks that sets the mood perfectly for the game. It's also quite nice that most of the tunes are fairly long as to avoid the constant repeating of the same melodies over and over again. The game also sports some downright scary sound effects that do a really good job of showing off the Super Nintendo's sound capabilities. To top it all off, it's quite nice to be able play this on the Wii U GamePad, as is always the case with Wii U Virtual Console games. Also, the faint of heart can make use of the in-built save state functionality on some of the tougher sections of the game... but we don't condone that of course!
It's hard not to find anything not to like about Demon's Crest, despite its difficulty. The ability to play the levels in different orders, not to mention the free-roaming feel of the game make it seem like an RPG at times. The fact that it's also chock-full of gameplay elements just further makes the title endearing and enjoyable. It's fairly safe to say that if you loved the Ghosts 'n Goblins franchise, you're going to love this spin-off, and even if you're not a big fan, you may find that the added playability of Demon's Crest might be enough to make a fan out of you.