Review by slipmaskin

Reviewed: 10/23/03 | Updated: 10/23/03

The magnificent Engrish alone warrants this game a perfect 10!

Oh yes oh yes. Ghosts 'n Goblins, I bid thee! Fill me with strongth and a will to return to starting point and challenge again! I'm sorry, but it's absolutely impossible to keep a straight face when FACING (get it?!?) such a wondrous grasp of the English language and all its rules and grammar rulings, as is evident in the ending-scenes (both the Good and Bad ones) of this mind-blowing game. It is what elevates this deviously difficult title to rampant new heights; without it, I'd probably have to lower the final score by two, three, or maybe even four notches. It all depends on the mood. That said, the actual content, the gaming experience, ain't too shabby. Apart from certain 'issues'. Read on.

Truth be told, Ghosts 'n Goblins is an extremely challenging platform-uprising, and not really a rewarding one at that. You, the player, partake as Arthur, a knight in shiny armor who sets out to rescue his beloved spouse from the clutches of SATAN (Santana?), and his trusted henchman Red Devil - also known as Firebrand in the Gargoyle's Quest-series, which made its debut on the original Game Boy-system... err.. not to mention Lucifer (How satanic), bearing more than a passing resemblance to abovementioned Devil, and responsible for the abduction in the first place. The quest will prove an... impenetrable one, as Arthur has to be one of the most ill-equipped heroes to ever have graced... ANY SYSTEM. For starters... Arthur's durability leaves much to be desired. Two hits from any of the game's stock of enemies, be it crawling zombies or the Red Devil himself, results in the showcase of the trademarked SYMBOL OF DEATH, a pile of good old bones. But what a sorry way to go... when Arthur absorbs the first hit, he is mercilessly deprived of his most treasured possession - his armor, revealing his 'mythological' SEXY UNDERWEAR. How this astounding idea was unraveled back at Capcom is beyond me, but let's just say I'm not one for complaining!

In the beginnings, the only weapon at Arthur's disposal is the ability to wield an infinite amount of lances towards the cowardly fiends. It's not entirely useless, but as he continually foots forward, other fine substitutes will be available, such as the flaming torch, or the rather rapid dagger. Let's just say you'll need all the firepower you can possibly get, because the road throughout the six mind-numbingly hard levels will indeed be a bumpy one.

Ghost's n' Goblins is rather renowned for its increasingly accelerating frustration-curve, and justly that. It contains a world of hordes of enemies, seldom giving the player any chance to catch his breath, constantly keeping him at his toes, and repeatedly alerting his reflexes. This leads to the stage that most definitely will leave some gamers screaming for the eject button; the gameplay of Ghosts 'n Goblins is excruciatingly unforgiving, and sometimes annoyingly cheap, as there's absolutely no way one can escape unharmed from certain, usually terribly crowded, areas. Luckily this is not always the norm; it's all about learning and tracking the movements of each and every target. Only then can the game be fully mastered. There really is no other way.

But the thing that probably off-puts dedicated challengers the most, is the fact that 'once is not enough'. After battling through the sickeningly infested and populated setting of the 6 levels, finally conquering the castle of Satan, finally meeting up with said Satan and whipping his sorry ass all the way back to the hellish environment whence he was spawned from, rescuing the maiden of Arthur's dreams, surely one would assume there was.. well... even as little as a nuance of a reward, something that would cherish the moment in the presence of the player. Not so here. For the sake of preparation, combatting and destroying Satan requires 'the Cross' (looks more like a shield).. without it, you'll be teleported back to the previous level. But either way you put it, if it's your first time through... the game will spout out a 'BAD ENDING' (replete with hilarious grammatical and formatting errors), and send the player all the way back to the beginning! Yes, this explicitly means that to be able to behold the TRUE, GOOD ending, one has to breeze through the game yet again! This is one of the incidents that makes me question the intents and purposes of the makers. It's like... you could honestly adhere to the giggles all the way from Japan.. Soo overly sadistic it's not even funny. Oh. Apart from the hilarious ending, that is.

Excusing this enormous anticlimax, prancing around in Arthur's underwear isn't quite the nightmare we've been led to believe it is so far. The genre is side-scrolling platform action, A is for jump, B is for wielding (throwing, rather) weapon. With this setup, Arthur isn't always as responsive as one would desire, but not as sluggish as to be entirely blamed for the player's shortcomings. Graphics on the other hand, are nothing more than bland, presenting a sizably pixelated, rough and myopic image of Arthur's world. But what should we expect from a game straight out of 1986 ? For its time, it has nothing to be ashamed of at all. Starting out at the cemetery, the journey takes cues from medieval buildings, caves, and fiery flames... chances are though, you won't be experiencing even half of it. Sound-wise, Ghosts 'n Goblins tends to be very tinny, but the melodies are there, just not all that audible at times. I'm all ears for the charms and warmth of the 8-bit texture, but this is nowhere near the top of the food chain.... nor is it entrenched in the bottom! Just slightly average. I find, as a general rule, that the music department of our precious NES hadn't quite met its match in '86, excluding some prime proof to the contrary, such as the CLASSIC Metroid, which represented some of the most spooky sets of compositions ever to be committed to a cartridge. It still gives me the willies. Anywho, moving on... Capcom provides us with 3 lives and some odd continues, all in the name of besetting this horrible beast of a game. It won't be sufficient, but it'll have to do. Thank God for the in-game checkpoints! Fortunately, two hits aside, a replacement part for the armor-less lot of us can be retrieved in specific locations in each and every level, meaning all hope is not lost. Not entirely. Err.

Ghosts 'n Goblins is reputed as a true classic in some circles. I'm not sure it belongs in that rather elite categorization on the merits of its gameplay alone, but the nature of the WONDERFUL Engrish is so awe-inspiring, it just has to be taken into account. I mean, just take a look at what awaits you on the particular side of grass that's clearly greener:

'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!'

These are positively some of the greatest strung-together sentences I have EVER laid my eyes upon. It simply defies logic! And to think that's your award for completion... amazing! With that, I'll break down the core into individual sections and rank them. I'll leave you all at that. Thank you.

Story: 4/10 (Lucifer kidnaps Arthur's girlfriend, who is to be the lawful wedded wife of Satan. How... fitting)
Graphics: 6/10 (Poor, but more than qualified for its time)
Sound: 5/10 (Nothing compared to the likes of Mega Man 3, but not without value)
Control: 7/10 (Jumping is a bit of a hassle, especially as it's not possible to change directions in mid-air)
Gameplay: 8/10 (Solid, classic side-to-side action, occasionally a bit overwrought)
Challenge: 10/10 (One of the hardest game for the NES, no doubt about that one. I mean, twice upon a time?!?)
Fun factor: 7/10 (The trickiest of the bunch. The insane difficulty could drive many players up the wall, but you know, practice makes perfect!)
Engrish: 20/10 (Truly awesome, just simply incredible!)

Final Score: 10 (NOT an average)

Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

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