Gargoyle's Quest - 3DS Virtual Console

I don’t know about you but so far I have to say that I’m pretty impressed with the first couple of months of the 3DS Virtual Console. Yes I could very easily launch into complaints about titles like Baseball, Tennis or Pac-Man, or about how they really should be releasing more than one game a week since we haven’t even seen the likes of a Game Gear game yet. But honestly that stuff doesn’t bother me too much, at least not yet. I only had a limited collection of Game Boy games as a child and as an adult with disposable income, I haven’t really put focus into getting more of them. The Game Boy is sadly one of a few systems that I have regretfully ignored.

So for me personally, I have enjoyed the selection so far as it has allowed me to revisit the GB games I remember fondly (Super Mario Land, Kirby’s Dream Land, Donkey Kong), while at the same time has provided me the chance to play games I always wanted to play but for some reason never did (Link’s Awakening DX, Game & Watch Gallery) or ones I had honestly never even heard of until now (Avenging Spirit).

All of this is essentially a really long-winded way of saying hey look Gargoyle’s Quest!

I’ve always been aware of Gargoyle’s Quest, as well as its NES and SNES sequels. I have never taken the time to actually play through them but if you put an icon for it right next to a Game and Watch game I’m already downloading, well then I really don’t have any excuses do I?

Gargoyle’s Quest is part RPG and part sidescrolling platformer, but it is all parts awesome. You play as Firebrand, who is the gargoyle partaking on the titular quest. The quest itself has you saving the realm, which primarily involves collecting a bunch of magic candles and then using them on big dudes who are always sitting on thrones. At least it’s something that doesn’t happen in many other video game quests, but story-wise there is not a whole lot going on here.

The game is divided up pretty evenly between the sidescrolling and overheard RPG sequences. Between the two, the RPG elements are definitely the weaker segments. You have an overworld map that for the most part you travel through in a linear fashion, occasionally stopping into a town to talk with someone who will tell where to go and what to do next. You can buy items, or at least you can continually buy the same item, and there are at least one or two hidden power-ups that you can find, although they aren’t really that well hidden.

The best part of these segments is that the overworld map does contain the occasional random battle, which puts you into the sidescrolling view to have a quick fight with a handful of enemies. The problem is that there are only a handful of enemies featured in these encounters throughout the entirety of the game. None of them are particularly challenging and, from what I can tell, there is no way to simply leave the battle once it has started. So these encounters start to feel tedious pretty early on in the experience.

I by no means disliked the RPG aspect of the game, I just found it weak when compared to the sidescrolling levels, which for me is where the game lived up to its legacy.

What at first felt like simple (still fun mind you) “walk to the right and shoot everything in sight” style gameplay quickly revealed itself to have a surprising amount of depth. The levels are rarely linear, offering several different paths you can take to reach your end goal. You acquire new weapons throughout the game and the later levels require you to switch back and forth between them in order to progress through the stage. Ok so it may not sound like a lot of depth, but put it next to Super Mario Land or Kirby’s Dream Land and there is a lot of shit going on here by comparison.

One thing I knew going in, and that proved to be quite accurate, is that the game is pretty difficult. It’s not Super Ghouls N’ Ghosts levels of insanity, but it will definitely provide you with a challenge. In the beginning you only have two notches in your health bar, and although by the end you make your up to five, some enemies can wipe two or three of them out with a single blow. What was surprising is that the last boss himself is eerily easy compared to the rest of the game. Once you get the pattern down, it’s smooth sailing until the end. Plus if you ever find yourself stuck at any point, the 3DS’s handy restore point feature will come in extra handy, so there’s really no reason why you won’t be able to see the game through until the end.

I enjoyed the hell out of Gargoyle’s Quest. The RPG parts are a little underwhelming but the sidescrolling levels make up for it, offering a good deal of variety and a hearty challenge. It’s not a very long title, with my time just over 3 hours, but it’s 3.99 so really, no excuse. NO EXCUSE!