Although many people are familiar with the Red Arremers, the notoriously persistent enemies from the Ghosts 'n Goblins games, not many seem to be aware that one particular Arremer also starred in several games of his own. The first Gargoyle's Quest was released on the 3DS Virtual Console a while back, and now we've finally received the second entry; curiously it's on the Wii U VC and not on the 3DS with its predecessor.
In the Gargoyle's Quest series you take control of Firebrand, one of the many Red Arremers that tend to torment Arthur on his adventures. Surprisingly, Arthur is completely absent from these games, and you don't even fight any replacement good guys — you actually fight other bad guys that are trying to take over the Ghoul Realm, which is normally a peaceful place, all things considered.
Although these titles do contain some references to their sister series, the gameplay couldn't be more different. At its core this is still a platformer, but it plays completely differently and also adds in many RPG elements. For starters, there's an overworld map that you can walk around, with towns and other places to enter and explore, along with fellow demons to talk to — if you enter an action stage, it switches to a traditional sidescrolling view so you can platform to your heart's content.
During platforming sections you'll get to take advantage of the familiar abilities all Red Arremers have: flight and fireballs. The flight mechanic is quite interesting — when you jump into the air, you can press a button to start hovering, after which a meter will start to drain, also restricting you to moving left and right. Once it's empty you will fall, and it won't replenish until you hit the ground or cling to a wall again. Sadly, you can't perform those nice swoops that have killed Arthur so many times, but this still gets the job done. Your fireballs are fairly standard projectiles, but they do shoot out quite far.
As in most other RPGs, throughout the game you'll be able to find several upgrades that will make you a lot stronger. Naturally you'll be able to increase your health, but you'll also eventually be able to jump higher, hover longer, and even gain different types of projectiles, which you can switch between on the fly.
In the previous Gargoyle's Quest there was one other RPG aspect which could get annoying quite quickly — very frequent random encounters, throwing you into a miniature stage with one or two enemies to beat every time. Thankfully, this has been done away with for the sequel, making overworld travels a lot less cumbersome.
As you might expect, this game being on the NES instead of the Game Boy means that the graphics and audio have received a bit of a boost. Aside from the fact that everything is now in colour, the levels and characters are ever so slightly more detailed; of course, not having the Game Boy's screechy sound chip can only be a plus, with the music this time managing to sound quite gothic, which fits very well.
Although Gargoyle's Quest II does have the advantage of being on a stronger system than its predecessor, it plays things relatively safe, making some minor improvements and keeping most of the gameplay exactly the same. This, of course, is not necessarily a bad thing — the first game was great, making the similarity in this entry something to be praised and enjoyed.