Review by Retro
"Great arcade game, but a not so great NES game"
When me and my parents would take a yearly trip to the beach, we always ate at a certain restaurant every morning. Every time we went to eat at the local Omelette and Waffle House, I always begged my parents for a few quarters so I could play Ghosts 'n Goblins, which was the only arcade game that was inside. I never could get past the second level (most of the time, I didn't even pass the first), but it was still fun and for some reason, very addicting.
Since I enjoyed the arcade game so much, it was hard not to jump for joy when I saw that it was on the NES. I could now play what was currently my favorite game, at home, without pocket change! I bought the game with my allowance money the first chance I got. I felt like I was in video game heaven until I got home and played it. I found out that this NES version isn't nearly as fun or addicting as the arcade version.
The story of Ghosts 'n Goblins is your most basic and most clichéd video game story of all time. A man in his underwear and his girlfriend in a dress are lying down in the grass when all of a sudden, a big red dragon shows up in the air above them and then swoops down and takes her away. Then the man puts on a bunch of armor (I guess he's a knight or something) and sets on his way to rescuing her. Well ok, everything except the man being in his underwear is very clichéd.
Ghosts 'n Goblins is pretty much the typical 2-D NES side scroller. You start out in a graveyard that's full of zombies who come up out of the ground and then walk toward you. The man is armed with his basic weapon, a sort of metal spear that he can piercingly throw at his enemies. As you get further into the game, you will have to make it through dreary castles, dark and haunted caves, hotheaded fire pits, and many other scary places that are full of ghosts, goblins, plants that spit spikes at you, flying ravens, swooping dragons, bats, and many other demonic beings.
Every time, before you start a level, a map will come up that shows your current position and all the areas in the haunting game that you have yet to cover. To get past a level, you just have to get to the end of the levels by staying on land and defeating all the enemies that get in your way. Once you get to the end of a stage, you must face a boss. If you defeat the boss, a key will fall from thin air and open up the door that leads to the next gruesome area.
But it's not as easy as I'm making it sound. Even after playing Ghosts 'n Goblins off and on for years, I haven't ever got past the massive blue cave in level 2 that is full of those red as blood dragons. To help you out during your journey to beating Ghosts 'n Goblins, there are a few items and weapons you can collect to make your trek slightly easier. From time to time, you will see a zombie or other enemy that has a pot attached to them. If you destroy this enemy, an item such as a knight or king for extra points, or a weapon such as fire, throwing knives, etc., will be unearthed. Also, sometimes one of those items will be out in the open, begging to be collected before a zombie touches it and jinxes it forever. Very seldomly, you might find a suit of armor lying around.
If it wasn't for Ghosts 'n Goblins being painstakingly difficult, it would've been an alright game. There are an overbearing number of enemies, and a few of the enemies such as the red dragons, are almost impossible to dodge no matter how great your timing is. The only easy thing to do in Ghosts 'n Goblins is to die. To die, all you have to do is fall in the water or off the side of a cliff. Or, if you decide to do it the hard way, you can get hit once and be in your yucky underwear and then get hit again and instantly turn into a skeleton. If you're real frustrated, you could try getting hit right beside the water or a cliff and attempt to make it where your skeleton will fall into the water or a hole after you get killed. You could call that a double whammy.
All in all, Ghosts 'n Goblins is a decent game. It has good enough graphics, the sound effects and music have a haunting effect to them, and the controls are manageable enough. And it can actually be a little bit of fun, provided you haven't got to the hard parts yet. It's just too hard to get anywhere without using the level select cheat, and it's not as good as the arcade game of the same name is. However, I would recommend giving Ghosts 'n Goblins a try if you're up to a major challenge or if you don't have any other games to buy.
GRAPHICS - The graphics aren't outstanding, but they're not bad either. The characters have a decent amount of detail to them, and the game itself promotes the dark, evil look that fits the atmosphere of the game. On the other hand, most of the backgrounds and the structures, such as the haunted houses, lack a little bit of detail and seem pretty lifeless.
SOUND - The sound is probably the best part of Ghosts 'n Goblins. The sound effects of some of the enemies, such as the flying phantoms, have a cool Halloween like sound to them, and most of the music fits the mood of the current surroundings. Of course, there are also a few complaints to be had. The arcade game has very impressive sound effects for when you collect a moneybag or other item, and for when you destroy enemies such as those dreadful red dragons. This NES version doesn't have nearly as much of a variety of sound effects, and those sounds are of lower quality.
CONTROL - The control could've been better, but it's not hard to get used to. I suppose anybody would feel a little less mobile in a steel suit of armor, but still. The bearded guy that you must control seems to move around fairly sluggishly, and worst of all, it can be tough to accurately judge long jumps, as from a fearsome height to the ground below. Just make sure you know exactly where the ground is before you attempt a slowly descending jump from a high place.
REPLAY VALUE - The arcade game kept me wanting to come back for more. I liked it, I loved it, I always wanted some more of it. Perhaps if I hadn't have ever played it so much, I would've liked this NES version a little better, but then again, maybe not. I haven't played Ghosts 'n Goblins for the NES nearly as much as I have most of the other 2-D side scrollers that I own. That's not a good sign.
OVERALL - Ghosts 'n Goblins for the NES is certainly not the best version of this game. If you want to play a better version, play the classic arcade game or Super Ghouls 'n Ghosts for the Super Nintendo. That's where the good times are to be had.
Reviewer's Score: 4/10 | Originally Posted: 07/01/01, Updated 10/04/02
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