Retro Review: Gargoyle’s Quest

Genre: Platform / Action
Publisher: Capcom
Series: Gargoyle’s Quest
Platform: Game Boy
Releasedate: 1991

Gargoyle's Quest Boxart

During our move to Hilversum I found my New Nintendo 3DS and decided to fire it up again. I was so happy that I did, because I knew I had a lot of old classics on it and one of them is this wonderful gem: Gargoyle’s Quest. It was one of my favourite games as a kid and I really wanted to know if it was still any good now. Capcom has always been one of my favourite game developers, bringing us wonderful games like Megaman, Street Fighter, Resident Evil, Monster Hunter and many, many others. So, how does this game hold up? Let’s have a look with my in-depth review!

Story

When you fire up the game, we see a bit of scrolling text, telling us the introduction to the game:

A long time ago, the Ghoul Realm barely escaped great peril. A large army of Destroyers came from a neighboring universe. The creatures of the Ghoul Realm were no match for the powerful Destroyers. Just when everyone had given up hope, a great fire swept over the Realm, wiping out the Destroyers’ army. Several hundred years have passed and the Realm is threatened once again…

Gargoyles_Quest_Start Screen

You play as Firebrand, a gargoyle who is supposedly a descendant of the legendary Red Blaze. As you continue adventuring through the game you’ll be able to speak with various characters in the towns you visit and they’ll each tell you a little bit more about you and your destiny. Will you live up to their expectations? Are you really the Red Blaze of which they speak?

Gameplay

Gargoyle’s Quest is an action platformer, but yet, it feels like a little bit more than that. After the introductory scrolling text we are thrown directly into the action. The controls are very simple. You press A to jump and B to fire. The longer you press the jump button, the higher Firebrand will jump. What makes the game a little bit more unique is that Firebrand can cling to walls if you press against them. This allows you to effectively climb walls. If you’re airborne, you can press A again to fly for short distances, the meter in the lower right corner (W) will start to deplete, indicating how long Firebrand can still fly.

gargoyles-quest-1

Of course, you have to watch out for spikes and baddies on your way and each level ends with a boss fight. These can be pretty tough, until you figure out the boss’s movements and attacks, but some might take a good while, because there’s also a level of randomness involved in their movements and the bosses require quite a few hits before they will admit defeat.

Once you’ve made it through the first level, you will be introduced to the game’s overworld map. It’s a pretty bland map, but back in the day it felt like it was really big. Sadly, the map is quite linear, forcing you into the direction of your next destination at some point or another. Only a few forks in the road lead to dead ends and sometimes paths will simply converge at some point. The map contains villages, castles, bridges and even some NPCs and items to find, but there are no big secrets there. Every now and then you’ll run into some random encounters and you’re required to clear the screen of baddies, before continuing your journey.

Gargoyle's Quest Screenshot

As you continue your journey, you’ll end up getting more and more powerful. You’ll be able to jump higher, fly longer and destroy enemies faster. Sometimes this gives the game a bit of a Metroidvania vibe, but it’s very limited and the amount of backtracking is minimal. If you go about it fast, you can easily finish the game in a couple of hours (and that’s at a leisurely pace).

Level design and graphics

The levels of Gargoyle’s Quest aren’t necessarily long, but you might have to backtrack a few times in some of the later levels, because they can become quite a maze. All levels do test your platforming skills and you’ll find yourself making small jumps, avoiding spikes, jumping fast and trying to reach the other side before your flight meter runs out of juice. The level design is done extremely well for a Game Boy game and the graphics are crisp. Gargoyle’s Quest does suffer from lag and image distortion when there are too much sprites on screen though, a problem common to many NES and Game Boy games.

Graphics so real

You just have to love these old ads. If anything the graphics of this game are really good, considering how old the game is. The design of the sprites and environments is just lovely. Even on this playthrough (and I’ve played this game many, many times) I still enjoyed it as much as I did back in the day.

Soundtrack

One thing that really sets this game apart from a lot of Game Boy games is its soundtrack. From the introduction to the last boss, the music is just great. Capcom has always been really good at making soundtracks, look at the Megaman series for instance. The one from Megaman 2 is still considered a masterpiece of the NES age. Of course, to a lot of people the Game Boy’s limited synthesizer sound will probably just sound like a bunch of irritating bleeps and bloops, but this one just really hits the right notes for me. Especially the overworld map song is one that’ll stick in your memory long after you quit playing.

Conclusion

Overall Gargoyle’s Quest is one of those top 10 Game Boy games of all time. It really is a timeless classic and although it isn’t the hardest or longest game, it is enjoyable every time you play it. I never really played the other instalments, but they’re out there on my Switch and I’ll definitely give them a go soon, hoping for more of these great, dark adventures!

If you have access to a Game Boy, 3DS, or even an emulator, I would definitely recommend giving this game a go. You won’t be disappointed!

Graphics: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟
Gameplay: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟
Soundtrack: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟
Originality: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟
Story: 🌟🌟🌟🌟
Overall: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Happy gaming!

~Jeffrey

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