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- Ghosts'n'Goblins -




Ghosts'n'Goblins by Mr. Morden

Isn't it just typical... there you are one lovely afternoon, sitting with your girlfriend, in a field, at one with nature, wearing just your boxer shorts, and a grin on your face, when Mr. Demon decides to swoop down and steal your babe. Bummer!
Thoroughly miffed at having your day spoiled, you decide that there's only one real course of action... no, not to appear on Jerry Springer in an episode entitled, 'Demon Lover Stole My Girlfriend,' or 'She's Just A Devil Woman,', it's time to grab your best suit of armour, (which of course is sitting beside you as you are still in your boxer shorts!), and set off to find the vile beast, the disgusting demon, the repugnant, repellent, malignant manifestation, (okay... you get the idea), and save your girl. So begins the tale of Capcom's 'Ghosts 'n' Goblins.'
First of all, I have a question.... Why hasn't this been reviewed sooner? I was surprised to search the index and find no mention of it. So, I guess it's up to me to introduce you to yet another classic Capcom platformer. Appearing in the mid 80's, it went pretty much unnoticed in most arcades, which is a shame, as it deserved far more success than it achieved. Although it did create quite a stir within the home computer scene, (on everything from the Spectrum to the Amiga, though my personal fave version was the C64, the MUSIC! CLASSIC!)... but, now it's time to examine the game itself.
So, where do we begin? Well, I've already walked you through the story and introduction, (portrayed at the beginning of the game with the actual in game sprites), so let's get down to the nitty gritty. You, are in control of the character, 'Sir Arthur Knight,' (if my memory serves correct), who must traverse numerous levels, confront numerous enemies and bosses, all in the hope of rescuing his love. Possessing nothing but your suit of armour and your faithful lance, you set off. At the beginning of each stage, a colourful map shows your present location within the game world, while scrolling right to left to show you your journey to your final destination. But, in a true B-movie style cliché, your first stop has to be... the Graveyard. (Though, if I saw a graveyard like this, heh, you'd NEVER get me near it!)
Controlling Arthur is simplicity itself. He runs left or right, jumps and can also duck to avoid any horizontal or swooping vertical nastiness that may come his way. Control is fluid and very responsive, creating that great feeling of being in complete control, unlike a lot of games today. There's no sluggish waiting around for an action to take place... you want him to jump, he'll jump... you want him to throw everything he's got at everybody around, he'll do it. No faults can be laid at the character, only the person who is controlling him. (Don't go blaming the keyboard for any mistakes!) One thing you'll notice is that Arthur seems to have been doing some serious fitness training, (either that or he's been downing some of those Special Edition M&M's!), because he can run and leap around in his armour as easily as he can in just his boxer shorts! But hold on, why the hell would he be running around a graveyard or anywhere else for that matter in just his boxer shorts?... I hear you cry. Well, you see, he has this problem, and no doctor can help him... if an enemy is successful in attacking our hero, his armour just leaps off him and disintegrates! Thus, our hero is reduced to attacking the enemy wearing little more than a grimace of determination,(and some spotty pants). So, basically, you're allowed to be hit just the once.... the next successful attack results in Arthur becoming nothing more than a pile of bones on the floor, for everyone to laugh at. I suppose this was Capcom's way of getting rid of the 'one hit and your dead' syndrome that most platformers suffered from at around the same time. And trust me when I say you'll be glad for that one hit wonder armour; it may leave you running around half naked, but at least you're still alive!
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Alive... unlike most of the enemies that you encounter. These range from the ever so suspiciously quick zombies from stage one, flying cloaked ghosts that bare a remarkable resemblance to Jawas, (but they fly, and their cloaks are grey/brown, not bronze, and they don't speak but throw arrows at you, so I guess it's nothing like a Jawa really is it.. no... I'll just get on with it shall I? Err... okay then...), and strange little caped gremlin midgets that just casually leap from windows intent on making you a tasty treat for Fido, but anyway, who cares, they're dangerous and ever so slightly deranged, so KILL THEM ALL! But, kill them with just one weapon...? Of course not, that would be boring. So, intent on making their own re-deaths a bit more interesting, enemies will occasionally drag a large pot around with them which holds a goodie of some kind. These range from points bonuses to the much needed weaponry and rarely, if your amour has left you, a whole new suit to wear. (Incidentally, completing a stage gives you a bonus of more armour if you are already without.) Weapons include your standard lance, for some horizontal dicing action; a flame bomb of powerful but limited range and slow rate of fire; an axe, which is both strong and fast and then there's the all important dagger, probably the best weapon by far, with it's fast rate of fire and multiple shots. A mention must also go to the cross, which is the weapon you need to complete the game properly, otherwise you keep getting set back a level until you acquire it! It may be fast firing, and powerful, but boy, is it's range limited! Anyhow...
Most enemies can be despatched with one blow from your weapons, but others take more of a pounding, like the Ogres of the second level. Lumbering along, they seem like easy prey, but get on the same level with them and it's a different story. They rush at you like crazy, causing you to panic and bash that fire button for all it's worth and only then, after about ten shots do they finally die. So, be prepared for some seriously aching trigger fingers. But then, there are the bosses who also take one hell of a pounding. (No pun intended-honest!) These range from flying orange Harpies to huge Ogres who leap about the screen throwing fireballs in your direction. One is okay to handle, but when they start to appear in multiples, then you have a problem.
The levels, though not original in any form by any standard, are fairly colourful and well designed, and often you will find yourself in some precarious situations requiring some well timed jump and fire techniques. Whether it be moving platforms, lifts, ledges or just general scenery crossing, some serious control dexterity is required. Thankfully, there is a mid level save point, but usually you have to kill the boss in that area for it to register.
Characters in the game are quite detailed, easy to see and colourful. Of course, by today's standards they're not exactly the most animated of game characters, (it was 1985!), they are nonetheless fairly impressive for the time. Sir Arthur himself is probably the most animated of all the sprites, his little legs going ten to the dozen, as though he's running in grease! But thankfully, the sprites do posses a personality, another thing missing from many of today's games. But again, that's another story. The sound also needs mention here; spot effects are functional and non-irritating, but it's the music that deserves special mention. The opening music for the first level will stick in your head for some time... it's not overly irritating like, for example, the Bubble Bobble music, (don't jump on me okay, the game's great but by the end of 100 levels I needed a psychiatrist!), but is pleasant and accompanies the action well. But, for some unknown music, I still can swear to this day that the music in the C64 conversion was a lot more fun and impressive! But, enough of all this hype and good points, there has to be something wrong right? Well...

This is where I express my thoughts on some of the faults of the game...

  1. Unexplained phenomena. Yep, things do go strange occasionally, even in this game. Enemies defy the law of gravity and walk in thin air, others walk through walls, (I dunno, maybe they phase shift or something), and others, especially the Harpies, can fly off the screen, leaving you in a position to do nothing but hope they return. Unfortunately, this can happen at the worst of times, like when your time is running low. And believe me, the time limit is fairly strict, but again not impossible. And then there's...
  2. Difficulty. There's learning curves, then there's a nightmare. The game starts off fairly well, not too much happening, you feel you've everything under control. But then, after the second level, the difficulty level takes one hell of a leap off the scale, even when set to easy level, leaving you shaking with frustration at times. But, it is possible, just. MY MAJOR NIGGLE with this game is the fact that once completed, it asks you to do it again, because, 'you fell into a trap laid by Satan.' Umm... yeah... methinks a cunning ploy by Capcom to squeeze more money out of the punter... Hmmm, evil sods. (Personally I would have just walked away from the machine, spouting some not to friendly words. You see, I never completed it in the arcade, never had enough ten pence pieces at hand, food was cheap at school then you see! I blame the parents.. and Capcom!)
So, where to end? Well, Ghosts 'n' Goblins is a game that can hold claim to incurring that 'just one more go' syndrome within most people that give it a try. It's an absolute classic that stands proud within my classic platform games hall of fame and probably in many others too. You may complete it, you may not, you may give up before you interface physically, via your foot, with you main CPU, but you'll probably get the feeling to just go back and have a quick bash, to waste some time occasionally. Give it a go... you could do a whole lot worse.
Oh, and yes, there was a sequel.... (which was more forgiving in the difficulty stakes!), so I guess that leads to my next review .... see you next time.

Reviewed On P166 under P/Mame33 (Runs absolutely fine!)
Play Control
Replay Value

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