It was a while back. I was passing the time until Castlevania: Lords of Shadow arrived and was unsure of what game I should play next. I turned on my Wii (as I sometimes do in desperate situations) and took a look around their Shop. Nothing interesting, as usual. But then I recalled downloading a game back when the Wii was actually releasing games of high-nostalgic value that were worth paying for: Ghouls ‘n Ghosts for the Sega Genesis. But really, every Ghosts ‘n Goblins game is the same, so does the version really matter?
Now that’s not an insult to the series. They are all the same (like Super Mario, Dynasty Warriors, and, yes, I can admit, even the classic Castlevanias), but Capcom found a perfect formula and stuck to it. Surely you Republicans out there can admire an entity that sticks to its guns (even if it shouldn’t). ‘What’s the formula?’ you ask. Ho ho! Piss you the !#@& off! that’s what!
Seriously, I have never played a game or series that is so damn frustrating. Sure, as a child, there were a lot of games that could make me kick and scream. Perhaps in the worst fits of rage (usually against Kintaro in Mortal Kombat II) I would even curse the heavens as I threw my controller across the room (which would only spring back at me due to the rubber wire attaching it to my SNES).
But now, as a matured and grown man, games just don’t have that same effect on me. I can die an hundred and fifty times without feeling that familiar escalation of rage that creeps up the side of your brain–that is, except when playing any of the Ghosts ‘n Goblins games.
These games take me back to my childhood like no other (and for that I applaud Capcom for accomplishing what no other company could). Playing any other game-of-nostalgia, I often reminisce about what it was like to play it when I was a young buck. This is usually accompanied by the realization that I’ve become a much better gamer, because certain ‘impossible’ parts have become merely difficult if not simple to get through. Ghouls ‘n Ghosts, however, is a veritable time-machine, because I don’t just reminisce in my mind. Every pitfall, every mistimed jump into a flaming bat from Hell, is the same as it was then. And it has the same maddening effect, because these games screw you at every turn!
Get used to this sight.
Unlike many classics, it’s not that the games are old and the controls are not as refined by today’s standards. Oh no. Since the first Ghosts ‘n Goblins was released in 1985, the series has undergone few tweaks and of those few none have helped us gamers or Arthur better complete his quest. It’s as if Capcom created the video game version of the shark (which hasn’t evolved in some 100 million years), and like the shark, it’s the perfect killing machine.
Whereas Castlevania had its Medusa Heads and Flea Men to annoy you, the entire villainous cast of Ghosts ‘n Goblins is built for your failure. From zombies that can rise up right under you, to dragon-skeletons and demons that seem to move along a perfect curve that meets you wherever you jump and hide, there isn’t one enemy in Goblin-land that can be termed as easy.
Not only that, but Arthur’s very movements seem to work against you. He runs like spaz and that jump! If you’re not unfortunate enough to get stuck in a straight vertical jump, you either fall too short or (in most cases) far overshoot what you’re aiming for. And then there are the weapons. 80% of them are more harm than good (to you, that is). You can get a new weapon from a treasure chest, but they’re so rare. So when that oversized turtle knocks back on top of those fire-berries you were trying to avoid (which happens often), you’re stuck with ‘em for a long time.
Fire-Berries: Everyone’s first choice in assaulting air-borne enemies!
Adding insult to injury, there are no hit-points in the games, and unlike Mario who thankfully dies when hit by an enemy, or is turned back into a midget, Arthur is forced into a most humiliating position: to strut around in his boxers! Walk of shame indeed!
Sure, the game allows you to retrieve your armour if you can find a chest with one in it. But again chests are rare and even when you do find one, you’re almost guaranteed to get hit by an enemy the minute you put the armour on.
But that’s not the worst of it. There is yet one fouler, more heinous feature of the Ghosts ‘n Goblins series. Even if you can brave the graveyards, burning towns, and crystal caverns of the villainous Satan and ultimately throw down the King of Demon World from his high seat, Capcom has one more curve-ball to throw you: it was all just a trap, or maybe you need the sacred weapon. Whatever the case, to truly defeat the ultimate evil, you need to go back through the entire game, from the beginning, on a much harder difficulty! Kill me now!
I’m not saying I don’t love the series. I’m not even saying it’s not a perfect formula. Certainly it’s doesn’t feel repetitious like those Dynasty Warriors games. What I am saying is being tortured in a POW camp is probably more bearable than the crap you’ve gotta go through (TWICE!) just to finish one of these games. Maybe Teach should put his money where his mouth is and play through one of the Ghosts ‘n Goblins, because there is no hardcore mode. That’s just the standard difficulty!
Yup, you guys hit the nail on the head with this one.