‘Ghosts ‘n Goblins‘ or originally 魔界村 Makaimura or ‘Demon World Village‘ in Japan, is an arcade side-scrolling platform game developed and released by Capcom in 1985 (mainly distributed by TAITO Corp.). The game created a number of sequels and franchises and was ported to a range of home computer systems, mainly by Elite Systems Ltd.
I was originally going to hold off reviewing this game until Halloween, but there are loads of things I can review or talk about when we finally get to the ‘witching’ season.. ..I really wanted to have a ‘Ghosts ‘n Goblins‘ review early into the blog.
You control ‘Arthur‘, who is a Knight who sets off to rescue Princess Prin Prin, who has been kidnapped and is being held by Satan, King of the Demon World. Along your way you have to master difficult jumps and fend of all manner of evil foes, including zombies, ogres, demons, cyclops, dragons and other monsters.
To help you on your task you can collect extra suits of armour and different weapons. However, the weapons are effective in different ways, depending upon who or what you are fighting.. ..this brings in an important tactical element to the game.
You can take two hits from enemies before you loose a life.. ..with the first hit you hilariously loose you your suite of armour leaving you running around in your pants (briefs) until you die or find more armour. The death animation is also great!
Even so, make no mistake, this is a difficult game, especially by arcade standards. Firstly there are usually only two start points for each level, so upon loosing a life you can end up almost half way back through the level or back at the start. You are also running against a c. 3 min clock, which counts down at the start of each life (or level) and will result in death if it completely runs down.
In addition, and rather frustratingly, you can only defeat the final boss with either the ‘cross‘ or ‘shield‘ weapon. If you do not have either you are returned to the start of level 6 to complete the final two levels again. To then add insult to injury, even if you do have the necessary weapon and successfully defeat Satan you are informed that it was “an illusion” and you are forced to replay the game again. The second time round is played at a harder difficulty level, but this time you can defeat him and complete the game.
If this sounds slightly ridiculous.. ..it is! If it were not for the superb game play, the game would have been relegated to the trash-pile of arcade history. However, ‘Ghost ‘n Goblins‘ is great fun to play and so can be forgiven somewhat.
The home computer ports were often a poor reflection of the arcade original; many being limited by their hardware. Notable exceptions were the Commodore 64 and Amiga versions, which were very good.. ..the Amiga version being a very good approximation of the arcade original but never quite eclipsing the popularity of the Commodore 64 version.
The arcade version of the game is also included in the ‘Capcom Generations Vol.2: Chronicles of Arthur‘ compilation for the Sony PlayStation (in Japan and Europe) and the Sega Saturn (in Japan only); which also included ‘Ghouls ‘n Ghosts‘ and ‘Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts‘ in the collection. These three Capcom Generation versions were later also ported as a collection as part of Capcom Classics Collection for the PlayStation 2, PSP and Microsoft Xbox. The game was also featured in the compilation ‘Capcom Arcade Cabinet’ for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.
The success of ‘Ghosts ‘n Goblins’ spawned a series of sequels and spin-offs, eventually selling over 4.4 million and becoming Capcom’s 8th best selling game franchise. The sequels include ‘Ghouls ‘n Ghosts‘, ‘Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts‘, and ‘Ultimate Ghosts ‘n Goblins‘ in addition to the ‘Gargoyle’s Quest‘ and ‘Maximo‘ spin-off series. Furthermore, although originating as an arcade title, the franchise has since been featured in a variety of PC and video game consoles with the latest entries in the series, ‘Ghosts ‘n Goblins: Gold Knights‘, released on iOS and Android.
The franchise also makes frequent cameo appearances in other Capcom works, particularly the character of Arthur; the most common of which being the ‘Marvel vs. Capcom‘ franchises.
Although infuriatingly difficult at times, this is classic arcade action that makes you keep coming back for more, again and again. It is also easy to find via the various collections available for modern game consoles.. ..what are you still reading this for? Go save Princess Prin Prin!
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