Review by MegaXFan
"Not for the faint of heart, but a blast of old school goodness!"
For those of you who do not know, this game is a brand new episode in the game series started with the NES Ghosts and Goblins, although most people's experiences will come from the SNES Game Super Ghouls and Ghosts. This is a very hard, but very fun iteration of the series that is a must have for anyone with a taste for a bit of pain.
Graphics - 10 out of 10
For anyone who has played Maverick Hunter X for the PSP, you will be instantly at home. While it would be unfair to say any of the graphics are "recycled", the graphical style is very similar. The pseudo-3d effects that made MHX so vibrant and alive are here as well. The backgrounds are beautiful, and in many stages you actually interact with it. For instance, in one of the early stages strange eye-like things in the background open and close, shooting floating eyeballs at you that track you.
The enemies are extremely well animated, and vary greatly from stage to stage. While there are a few instances of pallet-swapping, for the most part each stage has it's own new and unique brand of enemies. From skeletons that jump into the air and attempt to spear you, to fire breathing plants, and even ghostly faces which spew forth breath that transforms your hero into...interesting forms, there is always a new challenge to overcome.
Do not listen to the reviewers who say this game is too dark, and the action is hard to follow as a result. I never once had an issue with the game being so dark. In fact, the darkness serves to set the atmospheric level of the game that much higher.
Also, despite the massive amounts of enemies flying at you, I can only think of ONE instance of slowdown I encountered. By and large, the frame rate stays silky smooth through the game. That is always a plus, especially in a game as hectic as this one.
Sound - 8 of 10
The music in this game is haunting, yet fun. Anyone who has played the SNES Super Ghouls and Ghosts will recognize many sounds, Updated versions of older songs in the series, as well as some new songs help to tell the tale of this lone knight fighting for his life and love. There could have been more in the way of enemy sounds, but that is a small gripe.
Difficulty - 8 of 10
This game is hard. Very hard. It does, however, have 3 different difficulty settings. Novice mode is the easiest and has the most lives, the fewest enemies, and leaves your weapons powered up after you die. Standard mode has more enemies, fewer lives, and you lose your power-ups when you die. Ultimate mode is more akin to the old GnG games of yore.
There are a couple reasons for Ultimate mode being more difficult. In Novice and Standard mode, when you die you re-spawn in the same spot you died. However, if you died by falling into a pit, you re-spawn a short distance before where you died. However, in Ultimate mode you restart the entire level every time you die! Moreover, in Novice/Standard mode your armor can take anywhere from 2 to 4 hits before breaking, and then one hit after your armor is gone and you are toast. However, in ultimate mode, ONE hit will break your armor and one more will kill you. Ultimate mode is pure, sadistic, old school fun.
I wouldn't recommend Ultimate mode to just anyone, but Novice and Standard should be completable by the average gamer with a bit of patience.
Game play - 9 out of 10
Any good platform game should be judged based on it's stages. In this respect, UGnG is an excellent game. Each stage is well designed, with plenty of areas off the beaten path to explore and find new items. Some stages have you exploring the spooky ruins of a stormy castle, while others have you scaling a volcano where any misstep results in one deep fried Arthur. Each stage is unique in it's own right, and each one is hard. I would recommend playing with your PSP wrist strap on, because sometimes you WILL want to throw your PSP.
I would be remiss not to mention the jumping. This one aspect of the game is the main reason why this game is receiving mixed reviews. You can't change the direction of your jump in mid-air! Once you commit to jumping to the right, you have to follow through. The only way to change directions is (after you earn the ability) to double jump. Each jump, though, commits you into the direction of the jump. There is also no short/long jumps. There is only one jump that is one height and one distance. You MUST look before you leap, because there is NO turning back.
However, despite the fact that the jumping remains "archaic" as some reviewers put it, I'm very glad that the jumping is the way it is. Quite frankly, there are far too many enemies coming at you from every direction in order for you to accurately fight AND jump from platform to platform. MANY time I will jump to the right, and at the same time turn to the left and start firing at some enemy. You can be secure in the knowledge that where you want to land, you will land, assuming you spaced the jump correctly.
There are also plenty of secret items, magic spells, shields, weapons, rings, and armors to find scattered throughout the level. As you travel through a stage, there are invisible "stars", for lack of a better word. Hitting one of these causes it to fly off and create a chest. These chests contain everything from armor upgrades, to magical spells, to golden rings (which you must collect to fight the final boss). Some of these "stars" are devilishly hard to trigger. Even if you know where t hey are, some of them require pixel-perfect jumping to trigger them into revealing their hidden chest. Later on, you do receive a magic which reveals the locations of chests, but even then some of them are hard to trigger.
My only gripes with the game play are minor. The knock-back you receive from enemies sometimes sending you careening of the edge of the platform you are on. The various environmental hazards which transform you into strange shapes (like a super floating house-maid, a flying butterfly, or a flightless chicken, just to name a few), tend to take a LONG time to wear off. TOO long, given the drastic change in the game play they cause. 10 seconds of being a helpless chicken would have been long enough, but it seems as though the transformations carry on for 30 seconds or longer (though I've never timed it).
However, while i'm on the subject, these transformations are each comical and 100% unique. As the house-maid you gain the ability to make LONG, SLOW floaty jumps. As the skeleton (with boxers) you lose your ability to double jump, every time you hit the ground you fall into pieces, and you die in one hit. As the chicken, you run fast but have no way to defend yourself. Most of these wear off in one hit, but some of them (such as the skeleton) are particularly punishing since you die in one hit. Also, while not always 100% avoidable, most of these transformations can be avoided once you learn the placement of the "traps" that cause them.
Overall - 9 of 10
This game executes what it sets out to do almost flawlessly. The game play is at the same time a throwback to the tough as nails original, while also being just as fun and engaging as any other new release platform game. The game world is vibrant and alive, and you'll be hard-pressed to find another game with it's roots so far back in the past, that still plays this good in the present. While it does have it's flaws, I highly recommend this to anyone who doesn't shy away from a good challenge.
Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 09/05/06
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