AKA: Red Arremer; Red Devil; Red Reamer
As seen in: Ghosts 'N Goblins (Arcade)
Also in: Demon's Crest (Super NES)
Distinguishing feature: Conical skull and logo-worthy grin.
Strengths: Prehensile talons that can latch onto sheer rock, giant wings capable of short flight, spicy fire breath.
Weaknesses: Nearly nude knights (if luck is on their side) and, in Capcom style, millions of spikes.

Profile by Philip Armstrong? | February 23, 2010

Halfway through the first level of Ghosts ‘n Goblins, a red devil waits to ruin everything. Prior to this point, the game is difficult but not impossible. The Red Devil is the game’s first real -- and, some would argue, toughest -- challenge. King Arthur furiously throws lances at him in a vain effort, but before long the Red Devil has reduced the monarch to his underpants, and then, to his crumbling skeleton. Like the Medusa heads of Castlevania, the Red Devil has a simple pattern of hovering and swooping that transforms him into one of the most brutal challenges in classic gaming.

Meet the Red Devil, the enemy who launched a thousand swears. He’s what you’d imagine an evil demon would be: Vaguely humanoid, adorned with large bat wings. His flesh is as red as the fires of the underworld and he only occasionally has the presence of mind to wear a loincloth. He has an annoying habit of hovering out of range and then swooping down for the kill. Much of Ghosts ‘n Goblin’s reputation of absurd difficultly stems from him alone. This little archfiend gained such a reputation that Capcom made him the official mascot of the series, and his grinning visage composes each game’s logo.

But the Red Devil wouldn’t remain a villain for long. His popularity gained him protagonist status in a spin-off game called Gargoyle’s Quest. The devil’s name was revealed to be Firebrand, at least in America, and his tale was finally told. And what a stupid, nonsensical tale it was. Firebrand spent his days living peacefully in the fire pits of the Demon World frolicking in ruined cities and spooky forests. Life was simple until the Demon Word was invaded by aggressors from a different dimension. It would have been a nice twist if these invaders turned out to be knights from the human world, but instead they simply turned out to be different demons. Firebrand was proclaimed the “chosen one” by the demon king and told that his destiny was to save his own beloved hell from some other, less appealing hell. Luckily, Firebrand retained his ability to float from his earlier adventures. To compliment this skill, he learned to breathe slow-moving fireballs and to grip solid rock with his strong talons. By climbing sheer cliffs and slowly burning his foes with sluggish fire he he saved the first Demon World and all of first-Demon-Word-kind.

Firebrand's hero days didn’t last forever. In Demon’s Crest for the SNES, Firebrand became an anti-hero in search of world-consuming power. He was no longer the savior of the Demon World and could care less about its well-being just as long as he was the one in charge. It’s never explained what caused this one time rogue-turned-good-guy to revert to his original state, though one might speculate that it was Capcom’s attempt to make Firebrand darker and edgier. Which worked! Demon’s Crest is fondly regarded as Firebrand’s best adventure. However, he would never again be a hero. His memory best lives on in his 8-bit days, a time when he showed us that even a demon could be a hero, a devil could be a savior, and that there are no moral absolutes (unless you’re an invader from the other demon world, in which case you deserve to burn in the other flames of other hell for all of other eternity).

GameSpite Quarterly 3 | Previous: Erdrick | Next: The Foreign Prince