Ghosts ‘n Goblins is probably one of the most well-known classics of the past. While Arthur has certainly gained momentum from the recent nostalgia wave that has landed the series on shirts and merchandise, many still have yet to experience the original due to availability. As they have been doing with a lot of past franchises, Capcom have now rebooted the original with Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection. Side scrolling titles generally fare well, but does that iron-tough difficulty transfer well with all of the new bells and whistles? Let’s find out.
The story in Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection is pretty standard. Players must save the princess from a demon named Astaroth, and must battle their way to the main boss though various monsters and ghosts alike across a good number of stages. Yep, not a lot has changed, but the presentation of the narrative is where this package truly gets its own feet. Resurrection is told like a children’s pop-up book, so even though most will be familiar with the little “save the princess” story, the entire game feels new and fresh due to the charming animations and atmosphere Capcom have packaged within. I think this new gimmick works extremely well here, as the medieval world is better than ever to explore, and even though some may go mad getting there, this retelling does offer satisfying rewards for those patient enough to get past its own difficulty.
Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection is a hard game. That isn’t a surprise to us who grew up with it, or even played a different entry in the franchise, but alas, if you are new – be ready for things to get difficult fast. It isn’t the actual gameplay that really makes matters complicated, however. Arthur jumps, throws weapons, and performs abilities to get past enemies easy enough and anyone should be able to get the hang of the controls quickly. I never had input issues or dealt with much frustration when it came to basic control, as the tedious gameplay kind of comes down to two different elements – player perception of this title, and intentional level design.
Much like Mega Man, Ghosts ‘n Goblins isn’t a game really built around skill. Instead, it is focused on trial and error. A ton of enemies greet players at almost every turn, re-spawning quickly to create an intense feeling of fear as the player progresses forward. Along with the foes, the environment is littered with traps, spikes, and so on that can hurt or kill Arthur almost instantly, and that is really what makes Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection true to its namesake. The level design makes for a brutal test of patience from even seasoned gamers, and I can see a lot of people tapping out in seconds as there are some bits that just make you want to toss your controller against a wall. That said, I mentioned perception as part of the experience as it really allows the player to understand what kind of game this really is.
When you back up and stop treating this title as a platformer, it oddly becomes fun and addictive. Instead of trying to rush through a stage, players need to adapt to what the stage has to offer. This is a game where you may want to do slight memorization games of sorts to simply understand a stage before continuing, as I found myself taking the time to plot before actually trying to progress, attempting understand the terror that laid before me rather than going in just to die over and over. With such a short life bar, accepting the trial-and-error gameplay is the key to enjoyment with Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection, as players who rely on luck are doomed to frustration. That said, you can lower the difficulty, which helps some, but due to the game never deviating from its own workings, it’s still the same practice until perfect methods at play here – just with more armor. The satisfaction of making it to a checkpoint is like nothing else, and even though some levels like to linger a little too long, I found myself enjoying the game a lot more when I stopped treating it like Mario, and started mapping out each stage like a variety of conquests.
The visuals are outstanding. That story-book aesthetic blends with Ghosts ‘n Goblins perfectly, and the animations and worlds look polished and smooth. At first, I was a bit taken back from Arthur’s own sprite as it does look a bit out of place with the environments, but with the other bosses and foes and that pop-up book design, it does fit and looks great as you actually move forward with the game. This is a Capcom title, so things do move smoothly, even if some jarring animation choices for the sake of story can cause quick distractions that will lead a lot of players to yet another death.
The soundtrack is also wonderful. With a more modern take on the classic, each stage has a great and memorable tune that eases the pain of dying just a bit, creating atmospheric melodies to bring out the medieval appeal. Again, just another trademark of Capcom. Sound effects are also smooth and crisp. I normally wouldn’t spend time talking about that, but so many 2D hard for the sake of being hard titles do not even let you have a gratifying death as a quiet bonk is all you get, but Resurrection does deliver in terms of sound here, and is a better game for it.
I do not like trial-and-error anything. Mega Man was never my cup of tea, and I have memories of wanting to peel Super Nintendo controllers in half due to that type of design as a kid. That said, perception changes everything, and Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection provided enough of an incentive to play it the way it was intended. Let’s face it. Older games were higher than current titles and were very short experiences. These difficult experiences were not meant to flow through in an hour, and players got their value as they spent twenty hours trying to beat a one-hour game by learning level layout, enemy locations, and so on. That is what Resurrection is all about, and it certainly is not for everyone. Those who are brave enough to step up and donate time will find a remarkable, charming reboot that keeps Arthur alive for a new generation.
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