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Gargoyle's Quest
Reviewed by Jason Falconer

Developer: Capcom
Publisher: Capcom
1 Player

      Gargoyle's Quest, among the first titles from Capcom for the Gameboy, is a visual tour-de-force for the black-and-white portable. Rather than simply porting their 8-bit "Ghosts n Goblins", Capcom opted to create a new game starring the miniboss from that classic; a red gargoyle named Firebrand. And in this game, he's become kind of a star.

Apparently, all is not well in the Ghoul Realm. Firebrand must battle his way across the barren, hellish landscape, where rivers of molten lava flow instead of water and all the trees are dead wood, recovering the ancient artifacts of the Demon Lords. Unfortunately, these powerful tools have been stolen away to some rather nasty dungeons and towers where much evil resides. However, with his trusty breath of fire, sharpened talons, and leathery wings, Firebrand is no pushover - and once he begins collecting the artifacts, he becomes even more powerful.

Some of the items allow Firebrand to hover in the air longer, or jump higher. Others allow him to breathe different types of attacks, such as a slimey goo which can cover spikey walls, or a devastating boomerang attack. By the end of the quest, Firebrand can hover effortlessly for an infinite amount of time and melt blocks of pure steel with his breath.

The general gameplay is similar to Zelda: The Adventure of Link. Exploration takes place via an overworld map, where Firebrand faces random encounters with demons of the evil persuasion (apparently, in the Ghoul Realm, not all demons need be entirely evil). Here he earns vials which can be traded in villages for the Essence of the Soul Stream, a liquid which revives fallen warriors. In town he can also gather clues and sign up for missions with filial lords. Once attacked, or when he enters a dungeon, the game switches to a 2D action-platforming point of view.

Be it enemies with sinister patterns of attack, pitfalls of doom, or deadly spikes covering every surface, these levels are long and fraught with peril at every turn. And the boss monsters at the end of each level are no slouches, either. These range from the first stage's massive, flying fish demon who spits fireballs in all directions to a collection of slimey eyeballs who shoot laser beams. And there is a huge variety of regular enemies in the game, some of which are rather nasty (such as the heat-seeking flying worms who shadow your ever move).

Special attention has been paid to the graphics in this game, which are the finest the Gameboy has ever seen. Clever use of shading results in graphics (though black and white) that more closely resemble a 16-bit game. While there is some slightly annoying slow-down in some areas when the action ramps up, its easily overlooked given the quality of whats there. The music is darker than most Gameboy fare, and very memorable - just like the stuff in "Ghosts n Goblins". And the levels, some of which are huge, scroll both horizontally and vertically.

While the game can be beaten in a single sitting, Gargoyle's Quest isn't an easy game and offers a shorthand password system for players on the go. The great graphics, challenge and fun theme make for an interesting, and highly playable action adventure game, where even the bad guys get to win.

Trivia: Capcom went on to create a sequel for the NES, and later a 16-bit game starring Firebrand called Demon's Crest for the SNES.