Game Review: Ghosts 'N' Goblins
Ghosts 'N' Goblins

Ghosts 'N' Goblins Title Screen

  • Publisher: Capcom
  • Developer: Capcom
  • Released: November 1986
  • Game Type: Arcade
  • Players: 2 Alternating
  • Product Number: NES-GG-USA
  • Rarity: C (Uncommon)
    Game Ratings:
    OVERALL: 7

    Box Scan
    Ghosts 'N' Goblins Screen 1 Ghosts 'N' Goblins Screen 2

    Capcom is known throughout the NES' lifespan for many great arcade ports, and one of them is Ghosts 'N' Goblins, the first game in their Ghouls 'N' Ghosts series. The game was popular enough to spawn sequels on the Genesis and SNES systems, both of which are highly regarded classics, as well as the Maximo series on the PlayStation 2. Many NESers are still spooked by the game's difficulty level, but those that chose to brave the challenge have found Ghosts 'N' Goblins to be another high-quality cart from Capcom.

    The game's storyline is standard NES fare as it puts you in the armor of Sir Arthur, a royal knight. One day Arthur was having a picnic with the Princess when a demon appears and takes the Princess away. Arthur embarks on a mission through seven nightmareish levels to rescue the Princess, but that means he must somehow fight his way through waves of monsters and do battle with the evil demon leader himself, Lucifer.

    You need to go through seven levels filled with all sorts of creepies and monsters, plus you have a time limit to reach the end. To defend yourself from the undead creeps you have a Lance as your main weapon, but as you travel you can shoot orange pods to find better weapons, such as an Ax, the Torch, and the Dagger. Some pods also have items that give you bonus points, and you can also find power-ups if you look in the right spots. (Some bonuses will actually curse Arthur, so watch out.) The various monsters you encounter include such foes as zombies, bats, skeletons, ghosts, devils and many more, including the Red Devil, who looks like another famous Capcom character, Firebrand. However you can only take two hits per life; the first hit knocks off your armor, leaving you in nothing but your underwear, and the second hit kills you instantly. At the end of each level you need to fight one or two boss monsters, and you you're successful you'll get the key to the next stage, as well as a new suit of aromr. In the last level you face Lucifer one on one, but you can only kill him if you have the Cross.

    Graphics & Sounds:
    You can tell from the sights and sounds that Ghosts 'N' Goblins is an early Capcom cart. The sprites and backgrounds do match the arcade original, and while the characters are small they have some nice facial expressions. The backgrounds do a good job with the setting, though some levels (like the caves) look a bit flat. There is a bit of flicker and slowdown that pops up when there's a lot of action going on. The background music is pretty good and really fits the atmosphere, such as the creepy tune in the underground levels. The boss theme from the arcade is not present, but it's no big loss. On the other hand some of the sound effects are too high-pitched and get annoying very quickly.

    As far as the controls go, Arthur is pretty responsive, and it's not too difficult to move him around, except when he occasionally gets hung up on ladders. However jumping can be haphazard at times. Sometimes Arthur doesn't jump forward when you want him too, and you end up walking off of ledges or missing moving platforms, resulting in some unfair deaths. This is especially evident in levels 2 and 3, where there's lots of platform jumping.

    Challenge & Playability:
    The major thing that Ghosts 'N' Goblins is notorious for is its high challenge lever. This game is EXTREMELY difficult to finish. You constantly get swarmed by enemies, some of which take too many hits to kill or manage to stay just our of reach. The fact that you can only take two hits means you'll be seeing yourself become a skeleton many times. Also, when you do get to the end of the game, you find out you have to go through the entire game a SECOND time to find the Cross. That's right, you need to go through the whole game TWICE to get the game's real ending. Not only that, in your second run-through if you try to enter stage 7 without finding the Cross in stage 5, you'll have to start over in stage 5 until you locate it. At least the game is generous with continues; you have unlimited retries, plus if you reach the midpoint of each stage, you begin from there when you continue.

    Despite the super-difficulty, this game has that addictive quality that makes it enjoyable to play through. Even though you'll get the game over screen hundreds of times, there's something that compels you to try again and see if you can get just a bit farther than last time. IF you do manage to beat the game and see the true ending, you'll really have something to be proud of.

    So overall Capcom managed to put together a game that's both frustrating and addiciting at the same time, but all in all Ghouls 'N' Ghosts is a great old-scholl arcade platformer. You'll find plenty of the exciting action that Capcom is famous for, and fans that enjoyed the later 16-bit versions will find much of the same great gameplay here. Had Capcom relented on the difficulty a little or made it so only one go-around was sufficient, this game would have scored higher. If you have a low frustration factor, then you might want to pass on this cart, but if you can stomach the very high difficulty, then you'll find Ghosts 'N' Goblins is another great NES classic.

    - Review posted on March 27, 2006