Retro Rated: Ghosts ‘n Goblins

Factfile
Developed by: Capcom
Released: 1985
Format played: Arcade

I hate this game.

Why? Surely not the graphics, small but perfectly formed with suitably grim looking enemies emerging out of the ground, looking to take you down. Arthur himself looks resplendent in his armour and comical in just his pants as he runs through the level like he forgot his PE Kit.

Surely not the control, the game a pixel perfect, side scrolling action platformer, our protagonist running and jumping fluidly, skimming up ladders, popping off shots with his spear to any evil-doer who steps too close, on his mission to rescue his beloved princess. And there are weapon upgrades too, including knives and balls of flaming death, plus you can pick up replacement armour and other goodies to boost your score.

And surely not the sound, the atmospheric music combing perfectly with jaunty sound effects to form a wonderfully kitsch presentation.

I’ll tell you what I hate about this game; all of the above, because you’ll never get to see any of it.

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When you start the game you feel fairly safe suited in your armour. You bound along confidently, flinging death at every turn, leaping over tombstones. Then disaster strikes as you take a hit, your armour toppling off, Arthur continuing on in just his under crackers. Still you go about your business, a touch more cautious now, painstakingly working your way along the level. Inevitably though one nasty or another gets his grubby mitts on you and it’s game over, back to the start.

So far so ordinary. Many an arcade game starts off like this as you feel your way through the controls, inching your way through the game bit by bit. Only you don’t. You plod along, die, restart. Plod along, die, restart. Over and over again, never getting much further than the opening screens.

Apparently there are 6 levels. I wouldn’t know, I never reached them. Even if you do and manage to beat them all, you have to do it all again before you really, really finish the game.

Somehow this ghastly spectacle has endured to be converted onto most of the home systems, pop up on compilations and even appear on the Virtual Console. As testament to my endless sacrifices for you, dear reader, I braved a play through on the NES and Amiga versions. I hated them.

I also played the sequel, Ghouls ‘n’ Ghosts. I hated that too.

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Bottom Line

I am being facetious to an extent of course. For those souls hardy enough or stubborn enough to persevere there is one heck of a challenge to be taken on here.

For the rest of us, those who eat three Shredded Wheat or less for breakfast, this is a one way trip to Frustration City.

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