with the debut of the 3DS’s virtual console, many classic game boy games have received renewed attention. i’d been interested in gargoyle’s quest since it seems to have been one of the highlights of the system, although i didn’t know much about it other than that it was a spin-off of the ghosts ‘n goblins (which i had suffered through about a year and a half ago) and starred the memorable and much-hated enemy, the red arremer.
i agree with the review at nintendolife that “your first instinct might be to throw the former antagonist into the first pit you encounter as an act of revenge”, but our anti-hero firebrand’s unique hovering mechanic is immediately compelling. the game is initially frustrating since its two-hits-and-you’re-out limit feels like a holdover from ghosts ‘n goblins and doesn’t help ease the player into the first stages, but once you start collecting powerups that extend firebrand’s life bar and increase his arsenal of weapons the game becomes more enjoyable. the zelda II-esque map adds variety, but the one-off battles get a bit tedious, especially since unlike zelda II you don’t gain experience points for each enemy defeated. some of the game mechanics are a bit obfuscated (for example, you have to stand on top of an item on the map to collect it as opposed to face it), and sometimes the level design feels a bit unfair (such as one level where you have to slip past moving spikes with pretty much no room for error), but those are generally par for the course in an early game such as this.
there’s no doubt that the game is impressive for its time, given that it came out during the game boy’s first year. but it also transcends the limitations of the system and its range of enemies, bosses, and locales, not to mention an entertaining barebones story, help it hold its own when compared to the system’s library as a whole, and even among platformers in general. also, if you’re worried about how short the game is, although nintendo power’s review of the 3DS VC re-release said the game was “somewhat easy”, i don’t think my repeated attempts to beat the game were solely due to my platforming skills becoming soft, i.e. it does feel like a full-fledged adventure and a good deal at $4. looking forward to the sequels …
restore these evil gargoyle’s quest links:
– fan-site devoted to the red arremer, includes sprites and box art
– random site with a recap of the story + passwords
– walkthrough at gamefaqs
– review at gamespite.net
– wikipedia entry