Review by OldSchoolFan99
"Ghosts 'n Goblins is not a "classic" in any sense of the word."
Ghosts 'n Goblins was originally an arcade game created by Capcom, and released in 1985. This port was released in 1986. The arcade game was deemed a classic, even though it was really just a half decent (at best) platformer that made many gamers want to tear their hair out. Some people actually like this game. Why? I have no clue. I broke two controllers because of the horrible programming and incredibly high difficulty in Ghosts 'n Goblins.
A knight named Arthur and a princess named Princess Guinevere (alternatively named Princess Prin Prin) are having a picnic in a graveyard. Satan captures the princess (the reason why is never explained), and you play as Arthur on his quest to rescue her.
For an early arcade to NES port, this game looks pretty decent. The colors in the game mainly consist of black, gray, and white. The animation is okay, though the backgrounds look plain. When there are too many sprites on the screen, they start to blink. This happens a lot, so you better be able to guess where your character is. The music is annoying and repetitive, and the sound effects aren't anything special.
The gameplay is where this game falls flat on its face. The control is delayed quite a bit, and the hit detection rarely works properly. When you try to hit an enemy, if the weapon goes anywhere other than the center of the creature, it will count as going through instead of making contact. However, anything that comes near you counts as you getting hit. You can only get hit two times before you die. When you get hit the first time, you'll lose your armor and have to walk around in your boxers. If you get hit again, you'll end up turning into a pile of bones. Trying to not get hit twice shouldn't be that difficult, but due to the broken nature of this game, it is. The levels are very large and full of enemies, and there's also a time limit you have to contend with. The time limit is (more often than not) quite strict, meaning you usually don't have time to plan out what you're going to do and instead need to rely on luck more than anything else. There are five weapons you can use in the game: the javelin (the weapon you start with), the dagger (the fastest weapon in the game), the ax (the worst weapon in the game), the fireball (which is useful when fighting the second boss and the third boss), and the shield, which is replaced by a cross in some versions (the shield/cross can block projectiles, though it has a very limited attack range since it will disappear after traveling a certain distance across the screen). You can find weapons when the game spawns them in certain locations and by killing an enemy carrying a basket, though the basket may contain a power-up that gives you points instead, which are useless in this game seeing as you don't get an extra life when you get a certain amount of points and due to the lack of a high score table. There are various enemies to kill in the game, and some of them are very annoying. The flying devil creatures (Firebrand in the North American release; Red Arremer in the Japanese release) take to the air and then swoop back down very quickly and often kill Arthur more than any other enemy in the game, and they can also shoot projectiles. That's fair now, isn't it? No, it's not. Speaking of unfair aspects of Ghosts 'n Goblins' gameplay, due to some of the worst programming ever, the screen can randomly scroll for no reason and you'll take damage from NOTHING! It also doesn't help that you will often find yourself falling right through platforms that you should have been able to land on. If you manage to get to the end of the game, which is pretty much impossible, you have to face off against the Devil. There's a catch to this, though; if you don't pick up the shield/cross prior to reaching stage 7, you won't be going anywhere. Instead, the game forces you to go back to stage 6 and will continue to do so until you obtain the shield/cross. Isn't that nice? On the topic of this game's bosses, there are four of them: the Unicorn (the boss of stages 1 and 2), the Dragon (the boss of stages 3 and 4), Satan (the boss of stages 5 and 6), and the Devil (the boss of stage 7). Some bosses don't take damage from certain weapons; the Unicorn doesn't take damage from the shield/cross, the Dragon doesn't take damage from the javelin, Satan doesn't take damage from the ax, and the Devil doesn't take damage from the javelin, the dagger, the ax or the fireball. If all of that wasn't enough, here is the one thing that will make you want to throw Ghosts 'n Goblins into the nearest garbage can. When you find the shield/cross and get to stage 7, it's finally time to battle the Devil and save your girl. If you're like me, you were thinking, "Yes, I beat the game!" after defeating the final boss. However, all of your progress ends up being for nothing. The game states that the room was an illusion and "a trap divisut by Satan." The ending also states to "Make rapid progres!" Considering that the text in this game was originally written in Japanese and translated into English when it was brought over to North America, there are more than likely going to be typos and translation errors. The game forces you to go you back to the first level to beat the entire game AGAIN! This time, however, the enemies are two times as fast, meaning that the game becomes even harder than it previously was. I've never beaten the often called hard mode/second quest, though I've seen footage of what the "real" ending looks like. The "real" ending, like the "false" ending, contains typos and very poor grammar, stating "Congraturation This story is happy end. Thank you. Being the wise and courageour knight that you are you feel strongth welling. In your body. Return to starting point. Challenge again!" Could this be any worse? Congraturation should be congratulations, courageour should be courageous, and strongth should be strength. Suits of armor fall from the sky to restore the armor you may have lost by that point, but they are so rare that they shouldn't even exist. There are only a few good things about the gameplay, such as being able to use different weapons and having infinite continues, but those few positive qualities don't make up for the horrendous programming and unbearable difficulty.
Ghosts 'n Goblins is absolute garbage and has the distinction of being my least favorite video game of all time. If you want to keep your sanity, your NES and controllers, and your TV intact, avoid this game at all costs. For those who decide not to listen and play this game, I hope you know how to repair broken electronics. Don't say I didn't warn you.
Final Score: 1/10
Reviewer's Score: 1/10 | Originally Posted: 03/21/11, Updated 12/18/14
Game Release: Ghosts 'n Goblins (US, 11/30/86)
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