- Sep 22, 2012
Gil, depicted as surprised as you are that he finally got his own thread
Who is Gil?
The average Gil, diagramed
Prince Gilgamesh, usually known simply as Gil, is the player character in The Tower of Druaga. Gil is the prince of Babylim who sets out to rescue his friend, the priestess Ki, from the demon Druaga, by climbing the titular tower and finding the pieces of the Blue Crystal Rod. Gil returns as the player 2 character in the sequel, The Return of Ishtar, alongside Ki who is now the protagonist. Both return in the final game, The Blue Crystal Rod, where they are tasked with returning the titular item to the heavens above. As the game has nearly 50 different endings, Gil and Ki's fates are up to the player.
What is The Tower of Druaga?
No further explanation needed, right?
Originally developed as a "fantasy Pac-Man", even reusing the Super Pac-Man engine, The Tower of Druaga would nowadays be classified as an action RPG. In it the player, as Gil, battles their way through 60 semi-randomized floors filled with enemies. In each floor, Gil must find a key before he can continue to the next. Every floor also hides a treasure; the way to find treasure is unique to each floor and often perplexing, but many of these treasures raise his stats and some are required to complete the game.
The Tower of Druaga didn't originally release outside Japan and remained that way for over a decade, explaining its obscurity worldwide. In Japan, however, it was a massive hit both comercially (it was the second most successful arcade game in its year of release) and critically (it's regarded as a classic). Aside from spawning a multimedia franchise (called the Babylonian Castle Saga), its influence in the industry can't be understated. It can be considered a kind of proto-action RPG as it pioneered the combination of stat-based mechanics with real-time combat. It inspired the development of Dragon Slayer and Ys, two series that are commonly considered the first pure ARPGs. Also owing to its influence was a little game called The Legend of Zelda, whose equipment-based progression, mazelike dungeons filled with enemies and puzzles alike, and cryptic ways to advance can all be traced back to Druaga.
What is the Babylonian Castle Saga?
The Babylonian Castle Saga is the name of the franchise started by The Tower of Druaga. Why it isn't simply called The Tower of Druaga franchise is beyond me considering 3 of the 4 mainline games take place in it but that's the way it is. Below is a breakdown of the games and other media in it, along with Gil's part in it.
- The Return of Ishtar (1986): After defeating Druaga, Gil and the rescued Ki must make their way down the Tower. Gil is a playable character in this unique title that requires two players, being the melee counterpart to Ki's spellcaster.
- The Quest of Ki (1988): This Famicom prequel follows Ki as she makes her way up the Tower of Druaga in a doomed quest that leads to Gil having to rescue her in the original game. The only game in which Gil isn't playable, but he shows up in the ending.
- The Blue Crystal Rod (1994): The final game in the tetralogy, released on the Super Famicom, it's also known as The Destiny of Gilgamesh. Gil is once again playable alongside Ki as the two travel around the world to return the Rod to Anu, the King of Gods.
- Seme COM Dungeon: Drururuaga (2000): A card game taking place 100 years after The Tower of Druaga. Gil still manages to show up and is summonable.
- Druaga Online: The Story of Aon (2005): A non-canon arcade ARPG, Gil is one of four playable characters.
- The Nightmare of Druaga: Fushigi no Dungeon (2005): The series' Mystery Dungeon title sees Gil on a quest to save Ki, now his fiancee, from the witch Skulld.
- The Labyrinth of Druaga (2011): A remake of The Tower of Druaga for mobile phones, this one once again sees Gil ascending the titular tower to rescue Ki and defeat Druaga.
Old Man Gil, still a badass
Last but not least, there was a board game, and a theme park attraction in Namco's Wonder Eggs theme park. On the latter you shot monsters with infrared lasers; players were ranked from Bronze to Gold Knight depending on whether they had defeated Druaga and rescued Ki. I guess this means that, in a way, we are all Gil...
This Gil guy rings a bell... Where do I know him from?
If you aren't Japanese and/or a hardcore retro gaming fanatic, you probably didn't play any of the games above. However, even if you aren't familiar with them, your favorite Japanese devs certainly are, so Gil has made tons of cameos in games outside his series.
For example, you may be familiar with him from his appearances in Smash 4 and Ultimate! He's a DLC Mii Costume in both:
It's subtle, but the designs are actually different! You can always trust Sakurai to go the extra mile.
And also shows up as one of the many (many, many, many) sprites on Pac-Man's Namco Roulette taunt:
From small beginnings...
But let's say you didn't buy his costumes and don't spend an inordinate amount of time analyzing every reference and cameo in Smash (amateur...), you may still know Gil from these games:
- Namco X Capcom: Gil and Ki show up as playable characters (Gil's artwork above is from this appearance)
- Tales of: Several games in the series reference Tower of Druaga and Gil in particular, mostly by featuring his armor and items as equippables. Among the games that reference Gil are Tales of the Abyss, Symphonia, and Phantasia.
- Baten Kaitos: Eternal Wings and the Lost Ocean: Many Magna (cards) are of Gil's items, such as the Golden Helmet.
- Soul Calibur: The Blue Crystal Rod is a weapon for Sophitia in most games, with some also giving her the Hyper Shield, the Red Line Shield, and the Red Crystal Rod. Gil's strongest sword, Excalibur, is also a weapon in Soul Calibur III.
- Pac-Man 99: In the Tower of Druaga skin, Gil replaces Pac-Man.
- Pac-Man Monsters: A Pac-Man gacha I just found out existed, in which Gil is a summonable "Monster".
- Family Stadium: You know those baseball games Namco makes? Gil's in at least one of them.
- Namco Museum Volumes 3, 4 and Encore
For one, he's a hard worker
It's easy to underestimate Gil. His games are virtually unknown to all but a few aficionados outside Japan. When Tower of Druaga released worldwide in 2009, it was destroyed by Western critics as being too cryptic, too punishing, and simply too unfun. Most of what the game introduced got lost in imitation and surpassed by what came after. However, when placed in its historical context, Tower of Druaga is revealed to be nothing short of groundbreaking. There is a direct throughline connecting every ARPG and most action-adventure games to Druaga, and if you look before it you won't find anything that even resembles it (only 1980's Adventure comes close to fitting within the genre in a modern sense). It's not hyperbolic, nor is it novel, to say videogames today wouldn't be what they are without Druaga. With that pedigree, I think it's fair to say that Gil deserves at least consideration.
Fine, I'm sold. How would he play?
By doing what he does best: find treasure!
Gil is commonly depicted as your archetypal knight wielding a sword and shield. His shield blocks projectiles like Link's and his sword... well, you can probably guess what that does. Gil also has several other tools and weapons befitting the genre: pickaxes, gauntlets, rods, maces, candles, bells, scales, potions... The Tower of Druaga is filled with secrets and Gil can wield them all. The Jet Boots, which make him quicker, could function as a dash attack. The various rings and necklaces that enable him to walk through certain enemies and elemental attacks could translate to attacks that also grant him invulnerability to certain elements, adding a highly situational advantage to his moves. Since a big part of the game is finding better items to upgrade your stats (new armors, shields and helmets) maybe he could have a similar system to Arthur in MvC. And of course you can't forget about the Blue Crystal Rod, a must have.
If that isn't enough to convince you of Gil's potential, seeming like every other Link wannabe, then consider this idea. One of the defining traits of The Tower of Druaga is its crypticness. Every room has a treasure that only shows up by performing a secret and usually counterintuitive action, and the treasures themselves have confusing effects, with some not being apparent until much later and others even harming, depowering or killing Gil. To me, that means Gil should have a cryptic moveset: attacks that appear to have the same properties, but actually have one difference that can mean completely different applications. Moves that have Gil equip a barely visible necklace, only for a lucky player to find out that it negates electric-type damage. More than one attack has Gil throw out a potion as an item, but one of them has a healing potion and the other temporarily reduces the speed of the fighter that drinks it, without there being an obvious distinction between the two. Some attacks could even change their properties depending on whether Gil did or didn't use a specific attack before. This would make Gil daunting to play as and against, but extremely rewarding to those that take the time to learn him. A mirror match between two Gils would be akin to a chess game, each trying to read their opponent's attacks and force the other to use the move that would change their attack's properties for the worse. It might be ridiculous but it sounds interesting at least.
If that doesn't strike your fancy, why not check out post #15 of this gamefaqs thread? It details a concept for an Ice Climbers-like moveset with both Gil and Ki. (Thanks to tonygameman for suggesting it!)
One final aspect is that Gil has been depicted as everything from a realistically proportioned human to a chibi knight; what depiction Sakurai would take is a big question mark, but I like to think that it would be something in between (like a taller Toon Link).
What are Gil's odds right now?
Well, he got a Mii Costume, so... y'know.
Admittedly Gil isn't looking like a frontrunner for this game, or the next. He's Bandai Namco, which means he has to compete with some of the biggest brands in gaming and a couple of fan favorites, that have their support and sales/marketing potential all but ensured. Meanwhile it took me four sections of this thread just to explain basic things like "this is the guy" and "these are the guy's games".
This thread is meant to be more of a primer on everything Tower of Druaga. I played it as a kid and really liked it, and it's influence and development are even more interesting than the game itself, so it always surprised me that it's a non-entity for so many people. This, I guess, is my small attempt at correcting it.
Gil's Golden Gallery
Gil in The Tower of Druaga
Gil in Nightmare of Druaga
Gil in Druaga Online
Gil in The Recovery of Babylim, the MMO
Smol Gil, from a spin-off called Sugoroku Adventure
Gil's fursona I guess (yes this is official artwork)
Gil in Family Stadium, looking ready to hit some home runs
Gil and Ki celebrating the ancient Babylonian tradition of Christmas
Ki, who is also a total badass
Promotional artwork of Gil
This is only the second thread I've made. I always find the act of making one daunting and feel nervous that me tackling it bars another person from making a better one and running it in a way that benefits the character's support more. But with Gil being so unknown, disconfirmed, and us being potentially days away from knowing the final fighter in Ultimate anyway, well, the stakes are low enough to my liking. I can't play videogames because of a recent hand injury so this has been a nice little game-adjacent project to slowly chop at.
Special thanks to Rie Sonomura who pointed out there was no Gil thread and C chocolatejr9 who dared me to make it!