I hold no shame in admitting that I never managed to beat Ghosts ‘n Goblins, Ghouls ‘n Ghosts, or any other entry in the series of 2D platformers. I mean, come on, they’re prolific for being some of the most punishing games Capcom have made, with a demand for precision, skill, and perseverance if you hope to lead the gallant knight Arthur to glory.
You know what, though? It didn’t stop me from being excited to play Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection. I haven’t attempted any other entry in the series for a long time and my skills as a gamer have sharpened ever since I first tasted defeat in its predecessors. Were they good enough to beat the game this time around? Yes they were, but not without suffering PLENTY of deaths along the way. But hey, who cares if you’re being left in a heap of bones over and over again if you’re having a good time playing?
The tale behind Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection’s adventure will sound familiar to anyone who has played the original games before, with the villainous Demon Lord kidnapping Princess Prin-Prin. It’s up to the heroic knight Arthur to save her by adventuring across an array of levels that are packed to the brim with vicious monsters (and, of course, some ghosts ‘n goblins).
This means heading on a 2D adventure that’s actually pretty simple at its core. Arthur is able to run, jump, and attack, with the different weapons he finds offering different advantages when it comes to range, speed, and power. The iconic lance can be launched at opponents from multiple directions for example, whilst the hammer can dish out some damage from up close, just to name a couple. Ultimately, your weapon choice will come down to what you find in levels, with a neat variety available that offer different ways to take down foes.
“The screen gets filled with enemies fast, some of which will stagger towards you on the ground, lunge at you from the air, or try to pick you off from afar with their ranged abilities.”
Whilst simple, Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection is by no means an easy game. The screen gets filled with enemies fast, some of which will stagger towards you on the ground, lunge at you from the air, or try to pick you off from afar with their ranged abilities. It’s all a bit non-stop really, with enemies respawning and keeping players on their toes, with no time spare to dilly-dally about. There’s a demand for precision in the platforming too, with Arthur not the nimblest of heroes and some hazardous jumps expected of him as he works through each level. Juggling all of that whilst evading or killing enemies can be tough, so you can expect to take plenty of damage along the way.
Fortunately, Arthur is equipped with some strong armour, so he can take a few hits before dying. Enemies will LITERALLY chip away at that armour though, with pieces falling off until Arthur is eventually left in just a pair of strawberry-covered boxer shorts (yes, they’re strawberries and not hearts, look closely). This was one of the features that I remember most fondly from playing the game when I was younger, with the comical approach to a health bar adding brief moments of light heartedness to balance out the rage you’ll feel from all of the deaths you suffer.
“Knowing which abilities will be most useful can be an absolute game-changer in Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection, with some proving more effective in different scenarios or against specific bosses than others.”
There’s a steep learning curve to the game, with the player having to learn how to handle each enemy, what weapons work best for them, and when to pull off jumps if they’re going to have any chance of success. You can choose which route of progress you want to take through the game too, with it possible to skip some levels if you find them particularly tricky – masochists can go back and do them all if they REALLY want to, with the reward of additional Umbral Bees making it worthwhile.
Umbral Bees act as the currency of Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection’s upgrade system, with the player able to use them to purchase new spells. These spells can be the difference between life and death, with each offering all sorts of different powers; this includes the likes of Thunderstorm that unleashes thunder strikes upon foes, Firewall which puts a protective wall of flames around Arthur, Doppelganger which has a mirror image of Arthur join the battle, or Quick Cast which decreases the spell charging time, just to name a few. There are upgrades available for each ability too, which increases their effectiveness at the expense of additional Umbral Bees. Knowing which abilities will be most useful can be an absolute game-changer in Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection, with some proving more effective in different scenarios or against specific bosses than others. It encourages experimentation, which adds to the learning curve of the experience.
“Getting good at the game makes it all the more rewarding to play, especially when you start breezing through some areas that had previously caused a lot of problems.”
So I’ve spoken a lot about how tough Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection can be, but is it actually fun to play? Well, despite punishing me a lot during my playthrough, I’ve had a really good time with the game. It’s satisfying progressing further and further through levels, whilst the checkpoint system ensures you’re not starting all over again if you do die. Admittedly, it would have been nice to have a few additional checkpoints here and there, thought I think the wimp in me is saying that.
Otherwise, it’s just good old-school fun. The variety of enemies and bosses is great throughout and will keep players on their toes, the level design is solid and offers multiple ways to approach areas, whilst the simplicity of the gameplay mechanics as a whole make Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection easy to play but (VERY) difficult to master. Nothing ever feels unfair in the game, but instead requires a good amount of skill and a bit of learning to get through. Getting good at the game makes it all the more rewarding to play though, especially when you start breezing through some areas that had previously caused a lot of problems.
There are even multiple difficulty settings in place to cater for different players, so the toughness doesn’t have to be a sticking point. The easiest difficult actually allows players to instantly respawn at the point of death, so no progress is lost – this does come with the caveat that you won’t see the true ending and everything that Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection has to offer though, so it should be seen as a way to get better at the game more than anything.
“Each level is packed with detail, the monsters are creative and colourful in design, whilst the sheer variety of the sights you see is mind-boggling from start to end.”
Those who want to experience the true ending will have to beat Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection and collect all Demon Orbs; something which can only be done by clearing the ‘optional’ Hell Hole challenges in each level as well as the re-arranged levels that unlock upon your first completion. It’s not something I’ve managed to do just yet, but I’m persevering through and am determined to REALLY beat the game in its entirety. I’m having a good time though, with that aforementioned learning curve and satisfying gameplay loop proving entertaining even after spending a good few hours with the game… thank god for checkpoints.
I can’t end this review without talking about the visuals. Now I’ll be honest, when I first saw the Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection reveal I wasn’t really a big fan of the aesthetic. After playing the game though, I’ve come to appreciate how pretty everything looks and how it fits the spooky yet charming vibe of the game perfectly. Each level is packed with detail, the monsters are creative and colourful in design, whilst the sheer variety of the sights you see is mind-boggling from start to end. It just looks gorgeous throughout and manages to give Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection a slick and modern look whilst still embracing the old-school stylings of the earlier titles in the franchise.
Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection marks a great revival for the series, with the steep learning curve complimented by some fun and varied gameplay. Whilst there’s no doubting that most players will end up as a heap of bones more times than they would like to mention, the satisfaction of pushing on and persevering through each challenge makes the whole experience all the more rewarding.
With the revamped visuals, the varied arsenal at Arthur’s disposal, and the replayability that comes with unlocking the true ending, Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection is an entertaining old-school title that has stood the test of time – just expect a bit of a tough time fighting your way through the Demon Lord’s minions.
Platform(s): PlayStation 4 (Reviewed), Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC
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