A long time ago Capcom decided to release a couple of video-games that focused on a demon called Firebrand and one of them was Demon’s Crest. The cult title has found new life in the form of a Nintendo 3DS Virtual Console outing, but is it still worth playing it?
First of, it’s important to state that Demon’s Crest is not for players who are easily frustrated. Like the other Capcom series with a title that starts off with Ghouls, this isn’t the sort of title that anyone can get into. At least Firebrand starts off with some useful abilities and more are earned with story progression. Oddly enough for a title that almost seems proud of being so difficult to contend with, one such ability makes it possible to literally breeze through whole sections of some levels.
As a winged creature, Firebrand is able to fly and then continue to do so without slowly descending to the ground. This means that players can make use of it to just fly through larger areas and easily shoot down or fend off anything that stands in the way. Yet it’s also annoying to use this otherwise handy ability due to another ability where the character automatically hangs on to any vertical surface. It makes it rather awkward when having to fly through sections in some levels with spikes covering just about every surface and accidentally getting the character to hang on to a platform in the way.
Even new abilities earned with progression have their own issues and are usually not that effective against bosses – not even the ones that the title seems to imply will work best against specific bosses. So it feels like the basic abilities that Firebrand starts with are the ones that essentially will make it more feasible to complete each of the levels.
One of the best aspects of this release is the addition of the Virtual Console’s restore point feature. This at least gives not quite as skilled players a better chance of completing most of the levels, by frequently saving and then loading the same save file when dying. But deep down the true problem with the title isn’t its eagerness to make itself difficult to play. It’s the rather clunky controls that haven’t aged particularly well. More so when considering the fact that better side scrolling titles have been released since the original release of this title.
The titles does look great and some of the locations, like a mansion complete with a sky section, are fun to explore. Yet it also feels like there’s isn’t an overall theme that connects all the locations in a meaningful manner. It’s like the developers decided to just include a bunch of random locations to see what worked best.
Those that want to play the title the proper way will have to try to survive each level without being hit a couple of times. The health restore points are few and far between and shops are only accessible from the over-world area where levels are picked. Dying will result in either being taken to the beginning of the level or one of the very few checkpoints. It’s somewhat of a relief that there are no lives or continues and that it’s possible to attempt a difficult boss battle until succeeding or perhaps just giving up and trying another time. If the boss battles were interesting then at least it would be a welcome challenge, but most of the bosses have similar attack patterns.
Even the story makes little sense and seems like it has been put together by people who enjoy dabbling in fan fiction. It revolves around Firebrand chasing after mythical items and an arch-nemesis who enjoys spouting nonsense whenever it is confronted. Then there is also the fact that the title can be completed rather abruptly without even realising, since it’s necessary to collect certain items to get the true ending and play a few more levels.
As for the port itself, there were some rare frame rate issues, like in a section in a forest level, that made it difficult to progress without being hit by enemies.
Time hasn’t been kind to this title and it certainly feels like even fans of the original release might not enjoy the walk down the memory lane as much. Demon’s Crest is one of those titles where it’s difficult to find a reason to play it when there are better similar titles out there.