PLATFORM: PC, PS4, SWITCH, XBOX ONE (REVIEWED) | RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
Almost 36 years ago, those lovely (but possibly also slightly sadistic) folks over at Capcom unleashed what has come to be known as one of the most difficult games of all time onto the world in the form of Ghosts n’ Goblins. Arcade goers of the time marvelled at the tight controls, precise platforming action and infectiously catchy chiptunes, but also tore their collective hair out and came up with a whole new batch of swear words due to the game's almost unreasonable difficulty. It turns out that the overly harsh challenge was a large and addictive part of the overall appeal, as coin after coin was pumped into the cabinets and GnG became one of Capcom’s most profitable ventures to date. This success spawned an inevitable slew of ports and sequels which led to lead protagonist Arthur becoming one of the most recognisable mascots of late 80s and early 90s gaming. Now, after laying dormant for over 10 years, the franchise is being granted new life in the form of Ghosts n’ Goblins Resurrection.
Initially released exclusively for Switch earlier this year, GnGR is now making its way over to PS4, Xbox One and PC with everything from the Switch version remaining intact. Players once again take control of the valiant knight Arthur as he traverses insanely treacherous levels filled with all manner of hazards (plus the constant spoopy threat of demons, monsters, bats, the cast of Monster Mash and the aforementioned ghosts and goblins) as he attempts to rescue Princess Prin Prin from their nefarious clutches.
Acting as part sequel, part remake and part franchise mash up, GnGR plays like a combination of all the best bits of Ghosts n’ Goblins, Ghouls n’ Ghosts and Super Ghouls n’ Ghosts with enough modern flair and gameplay twists to keep it interesting and keep you guessing throughout. The hand drawn visuals feel like a twisted animated puppet show brought to life and really pop out the screen with vibrant colours and bags of character, and the instantly familiar rearranged music is both charming and as catchy as ever. Although the notorious crushing difficulty level remains for those up to the challenge, multiple settings are now available to make the game a little less unforgiving, making this by far the most accessible entry in the series. Capcom have also added a very enjoyable two-player option, which not only brings a whole new gameplay dimension but can also aid in lowering the difficulty further, as a second player can assist significantly in Arthur’s almost untenable feeling quest when things are getting rough.
One of the most revered parts of the franchise has always been the huge, impressive boss battles and GnGR certainly doesn’t disappoint in that department. A mix of old favourites and new faces, every boss fight is unique, striking, memorable and an absolute pain in the backside to get through. As rewarding as it is frustrating, you might want to throw your controller at your cat a few times en route, but it always feels worth it when you finally beat that boss or get to that next checkpoint. There’s no denying that the difficulty level of GnGR will not only be one of the biggest parts of the game’s appeal but also the thing that will put more people off than anything. Hopefully the promise of an easy mode will be enough to convince naysayers to give this one a shot, because if you’re a fan of the series, a fan of platformers, a fan of 2D games or just a fan of arcade games in general, this is a must have.