Ghosts 'N Goblins review
The devil and his servant – masochistic gameplay
I tried to steer clear of this game for a number of years, mostly because it was too damn hard. Everything was out to kill you, and you didn’t have much going for you, except 2 hit points and a never ending supply of lances. The odds were certainly stacked against you, and all you had were your wits and reflexes... Okay, seriously, this is pretty overrated. It’s not a bad game and it's worth playing, don’t get me wrong, but that’s because of the difficulty. Take that out, and you got yourself an average platformer that wouldn’t last too long in your collection.
Story: One day, Arthur and the princess are out on a picnic in the graveyard (just go along with it), when suddenly, a devil appears out of nowhere, and takes the princess hostage. It’s now up to Arthur to rescue her from the clutches of evil. You never would’ve thought that Satan would be in a video game, especially from a well renowned developer (Capcom), though there are no real religious overtones or anything that would stir controversy – just save the princess from Satan, and if there was, you’d have a hard time telling, considering the technology and all. Either way, it’s your typical damsel in distress situation, just with some darker themes.
Gameplay: Typical platforming stuff. You move from left to right, having to navigate through obstacles and killing enemies to get to the boss, who needs to be slain in order to progress. Unfortunately, Arthur only has two hit points. One hit strips him down to his underwear, and the second hit turns him into a skull and crossbones. Typical stuff, slain enemies give you points which give you lives if you have enough, yadayada...
So what makes this game so hard? Could it be because of enemies and bosses that abuse steroids, or some tricky jumps? It’s actually a bit of both, except the balance is more in favor of enemies with the power to flat out multiply and kick your ass without even trying. Some enemies, like the red devils, will make your journey a living hell. They take four hits to kill,
There are a few jumps that will stump you, including the evil moving platforms. Why so evil? Because of Arthur’s jumping physics. Since you can’t change your direction while in the air, you’ll be trying over and over again to try and get to that damn platform. This gets frustrating, since you just want to conquer these jumps, yet you can’t, because Arthur always finds himself going into pits!
If any developers, even Capcom themselves, are reading this, here’s how you make a game hard – make us go through it... TWICE! Ghosts And Goblins, and by extension, the sequel, force you to repeat the game a second time. Obviously, Capcom thought the levels were too short, and the game would be too. Well, this kind of dick move doesn’t make things more challenging or fun; it just pisses people off. A better idea to lengthen the game and actually do a good job of it, is to add more levels between the first and fifth levels (I know there are six, but the fifth kind of sets up the stage for the sixth perfectly).
Honestly, I’m glad Capcom at least had the mercy to include infinite continues, or this would be on the same level as Silver Surfer – terribly unfair, and just doesn’t want to be completed.
So why do I consider it so average beyond the difficulty? Mostly due to designs – the levels feel boring, and wouldn’t be fit for a Mega Man game. They’re pretty flat and boring, with some jumps and ladders. If anything, they feel like second-rate Super Mario Brothers b-sides. I don’t know how to really put this... Actually, yes I do – nothing wholly inventive, nothing that stands out aside from bullshit difficulty, and nothing that makes me want to praise them unto the heavens.
There are power ups throughout, but they’re rare, almost to the point where there are none! You have other weapons, including an awkwardly functioning fireball, and a suit of armor, but good luck finding that. You have a better chance of finding Jesus than any power ups in this game.
Controls: Not bad stuff. Arthur manages to walk and fight without any hassles. Jumping is a whole ‘nother issue – you can’t change direction in mid air, meaning if an enemy or a projectile is on their way, you’re dead, and if you jump from the wrong place, you’re dead. Nothing will stop you from heading in that general direction, or even slow you down. Precision jumping is made into a bitch with these controls, meaning a whole heap of cheap deaths to artificially lengthen the game (as if the game hasn’t done enough of that). Its controls like these in games like these that stop me from having fun.
Graphics: The designs of the characters and scenery are done pretty well. Simplistic, but they got some good detail going on with everything, especially the bosses. The bosses stand out due to their outlandish designs. The colors manage to help pull off a creepy and hellish atmosphere at times. Really, the only thing stopping the graphics from being perfect is the choppy framerate, 2 or 3 frames per animation – must’ve been a small budget.
Audio: I’m very mixed with this. The sound effects are limited and sound okay, but nothing special, even by the console’s standards. The music is also quite limited, making each track feel repetitious – and this isn’t like Super Mario Brothers where the tunes are awesome. The tunes here are good, they manage to cater to the creepiness of the game, but they tend to get old pretty quickly, mostly to the point where the tracks get a bit on your nerves.
Replay Value: If masochism and sadistic designs are your thing, go ahead, play this game more. But if you’re somebody who just wants to conquer a hard game like this and move on, the game will simply serve as a dust magnet in your collection. It’s not like Battletoads where the difficulty makes the experience fun and entices further playthroughs (if you’re bored, that is). It’s like being in a brutal fight – never again!
Overall: Ghosts And Goblins is an okay game. The difficulty saves it from being another throwaway game, and that’s because it pisses you off to the point where you want to smash the cartridge, the console, the TV, and even the house, due to how sadistic it is. I say, if you’re curious to see how this game would go for you, go for it, but if you prefer to keep yourself sane, don’t bother.
Replay Value: 1/10