March 11, 2021 — Ghosts ’n Goblins made its debut in the arcades of 1985, and has subsequently been ported to and re-released on a variety of consoles and mobile platforms.
Several sequels and spin-offs have been released in the last decades. It is Capcom’s 13th best-selling franchise and has shifted more than 4 million copies. The original arcade machine challenged players with unforgiving level design and a constant barrage of enemies to defeat as players were repeatedly greeted with “INSERT COIN”. In the 80s, the raison d’être for arcade games was to extract money from hooked players — not unlike the many free-to-play titles of today.
“It is clear the game has been developed with a great deal of care and awareness for modern players, and this is to be commended.”
Ghosts ’n Goblins Resurrection is the latest in a fairly long series of remakes and brings that same formula to modern-day audiences on the Nintendo Switch. It presents players with the grueling onslaught of monsters to overcome while maintaining the charm, look, and feel of the original. It is aware of the difficulty of the series, however, and carefully balances a game that is appealing for die-hard fans of the series, while also allowing newcomers to taste its pace.
Everyone is Welcome
One way that the game achieves this balance is through the difficulty options available. There are four to choose from when starting a new game, with the easiest option allowing the player to heal themselves on the spot. The hardest “legend” difficulty spawns more enemies and makes series protagonist Arthur die in only one hit. The fact that the difficulty can be lowered via a prompt whenever the player is killed also adds to the accessibility of the game for players of different skill levels, as does the welcome addition of frequent checkpoints. There are also various nods to the series’ arcade roots, such as the retro sound accompanying the title card, and the scorecard being heavily reminiscent of those found in arcade machines of old.
Levels in Ghosts ’n Goblins Resurrection are fast and manic, with enemies spawning from all directions and keeping the player engaged at all times. Even on the easier difficulties, the game is punishingly difficult, and like previous remakes, many deaths per level is an inevitability. The player has to learn attack patterns and adapt, but there is a great deal of satisfaction when completing a level after multiple attempts. It is not only the enemies themselves that contribute to the difficulty, however. The extremely well-designed levels change and move as you progress, hampering progress and occasionally moving the gameplay into more platforming territory. This can be incredibly tough when also having to fight against the hordes of monsters rushing towards Arthur. This new entry in the series also introduces a two-player local co-op mode to the Ghosts ‘n Goblins universe for the first time ever.
Luckily, like previous remakes, there are many weapons to choose from, each with its own uses, range, and effectiveness. A skill tree is one new addition for the series though, and finding hidden “Umbral Bees” allows Arthur to upgrade his abilities and wield magic, aiding the player as they progress through five zones of increasing difficulty. Each zone ends with a challenging and satisfying boss fight.
Pixels and Sound
The animations present in the game are excellent, with the enemies, in particular, is very well designed. The art style is charming while rooted in the original arcade version, but lacks the authenticity and retro-spirit pixeled graphics often provide. Allowing enemies to be presented as grotesque and menacing. There are also helpful and humorous visual cues present that allow players to keep track of health, with Arthur’s armor parts gradually falling off each time the player takes a hit. The music is reminiscent of previous games in the series while bringing it into line with the modern-day, and some of the weaponry sound effects are immensely satisfying.
Overall, Ghosts ’n Goblins Resurrection is an enjoyable experience, bringing the series to a new generation of gamers while still retaining enough found in previous games for purists to enjoy. It is clear the game has been developed with a great deal of care and awareness for modern players, and this is to be commended. While the skill tree does ultimately feel unnecessary, the attempt to modernize doesn’t deviate from the core gameplay experience, and the updated art style and graphical improvements are excellent. The game could be longer but is ultimately an enjoyable experience and one that should please long-time fans and newcomers, thus putting the tried-and-true Ghosts ’n Goblins franchise in a strong position for the future.