Review by Sirius
"Hardcore to the bone."
Take a breath, relax, clear your mind -- and welcome to the insane world that is Ghosts and Goblins.
Video games have considerably evolved over the course of time. We now have games with compelling stories, magnificent soundtracks, tight controls, and simply put, games sometimes deeper than most other popular entertainment available. Ghosts and Goblins (Makai Mura in its Japanese version, which translates to: "Demon World Village") is of an old NES genre that does not fit this category. Pure platformer, little story. And forget what you think you know about hard video games. Ghosts and Goblins will hurt you, kill you, burn your coffin and throw your ashes to the crocodiles. Your fingers will sweat. Yes, it is one of the hardest games in the NES' library.
So here is a warning right here: if you're one that likes to breeze through your games, look elsewhere. It doesn't matter what you saw; unless you've tried it, you cannot imagine how hard Ghosts and Goblins is. I downloaded this game on my Wii, vaguely remembering it from my youth. It didn't take me very long to realize that it was no wonder I only remembered the first level, I had never passed the first level. Armed with determination, I headed towards a world that would teach me patience by thrusting nails through my body.
Ghosts and Goblins starts with a very classic damsel in distress story -- the one where your girlfriend is abducted by a demon while you were chilling with her in a cemetery (!). And so your quest begins. But frankly, who really cares about the story in this kind of game, it's all about making your way to the end.
So how do you actually make your way through this game? Many people apparently complain about the game having bad controls. But is that really so? Capcom designed your little knight in a specific way, forcing him to move the way he does. Basically, you run, you jump, you crouch and you throw weapons. But Arthur (unnamed in this game) is no Mario. Once you start jumping, you cannot change directions in mid-air. Once he's launched, it's a one-way trip to the landing. Why could that be a problem? Because sometimes you'll wish you jumped a little closer or a little farther but it will already be too late. As you trudge your way through insane hordes of enemies, throwing your faithful javelin at first or whatever else you find along the way (fireball, dagger, axe, cross) to annihilate your enemies, you'll realize that most of the time, they're the ones who will annihilate you.
There is one button to jump and one to throw your infinite amount of ammo. Most of the time, you'll want to throw as fast as possible. Some weapons will launch straight and go all the way to the end of the screen, unless they collide with an enemy beforehand, while others will arc and land on the ground. The fireball, for example, has lasting power, staying on the ground for a few seconds and killing any enemy who dares come close enough. However, it limits you to throwing a maximum of two fireballs at once. Two hits from any enemy and you're sent to the grave. One hit will deprive you of your shining armor, leaving you almost naked, while the second one will take your life.
The game plays well, it's just somewhat glitchy. Two or three major glitches in the game can turn you into a pile of bones. Once you know what they are though, you can avoid them easily. Simply beware of the frustration that'll occur when you are surprised by a glitch the first time. On the other hand, some glitches work to your advantage.
Every level is separated in half, with a checkpoint in the middle. Once you die, it's back to the beginning of said level, or back to the checkpoint "mid"-level. When you lose all your lives and it's game over (trust me, that'll happen a lot), you are given the chance to continue, starting back at the last checkpoint. If you are playing the Japanese version, you are not given that chance. *gasp* Do they really expect us to beat this game with three lives? Lucky for us with the Japanese version, there is a cheat code you can enter that will let you continue from the last spawning point.
There are three different tracks in this game. The first one, playing in the first two levels, is the classic GnG tune that'll come back in the later instalments. It is also the best tune of the game. Sound effects are Nintendo-ee, nothing spectacular here.
Graphics appear to be sub-par at first. Be that as it may, the rough and gritty look of them suits this type of game very well. Basically, they grow on you, giving this challenging game a feeling of reality. The graphics go hand in hand with the difficulty of the game. It's like they were designed that way because Capcom knew the were making a brutal game. However, when comparing them to the arcade version, you can see they were not originally designed that way. I still favor the NES graphics.
All in all, Ghosts and Goblins will reward your patience with a feeling of satisfaction when you beat it. I still remember not being able to stop smiling and repeating to my friend: "I beat level 3! I beat level 3!" every ten minutes because I had FINALLY beaten level 3. And if you expect to finish the game in one evening, you might have to reconsider midway through. I've always been told 'patience' was a virtue. This game will let you ponder on the meaning of that very word deeper than you've ever cared to do before. Nevertheless, the game is fun and addictive, assuming you're not one to lose motivation after a mere ten minutes.
And once you beat it, be proud. You are definitely one of the greats in the gaming world. But the game won't let you savor this victory for more than a second, as you will straight away be told that to get the real ending, you must go through it again.
Are you ready?
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 07/09/08, Updated 11/08/11
Game Release: Makai-Mura (JP, 11/20/07)
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