I am a a sucker for a bit of nostalgia, and seeing Ghosts ‘n Goblins being remade had me proper excited. It doesn’t seem like 33 years since I was sat in my teenage bedroom with my Sega Megadrive, complete with the arcade stick and turbo fire function as I attempted to beat the game. I don’t think I ever managed it, as in those days games came with one difficulty setting, and that was ‘hard as nails’. Now though comes the remastered version of the game, bringing together elements of the original and its follow up, Ghouls ‘n Ghosts, to introduce proper gaming to the kids of today. But can Ghost ‘n Goblins Resurrection hold a candle to the original, and more importantly, does the gameplay still work today?
To save you the bother of reading the rest of my ramblings, the answer to both of those questions is yes, and the finished product is flippin’ awesome. In fact, stop reading now, go and buy it, and then thank me later.
Still here? Okay, then, let me tell you why it is so good. The basis of Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection is rooted in the past, where, and I’ll brook no argument on this, games were harder, but it was a fair difficulty. You never died arbitrarily; every death taught you something, and as a result the next run went a little further. Think of it like Dark Souls: there’s no hand holding, but the game will teach you by killing you. It’s the same here, but there have been a number of changes in order to make Resurrection a little bit more accessible.
The first of these is a difficulty select, which would have been welcome back in the day. I’ve been playing mostly on Knight difficulty, yet there are two lower difficulties to try, Squire and Page. Now, Page difficulty essentially makes you immortal, and if you die, you will respawn and carry on, but on the flip side, you can’t see the whole of the game that way. There is a Legend difficulty if you are amazing and have the reflexes of a squirrel hopped up on Red Bull, but that has certainly been a step too far for me.
All of the familiar tropes of Ghosts ‘n Goblins’ gameplay are present and correct. The weapons that Arthur can find are pretty familiar, with a personal favourite being the daggers still. But with javelins, petrol bombs (well, that’s what they look like!) and even some weird kind of shield throwing thing to choose from, as well as many more, the ability to find a weapon you like is pretty nailed on. The way Arthur loses his armour bit by bit as he gets hit, until he is running around in just his boxers, is the same as back in the day too, and finding a set of Golden Armour is still great fun. And of course, the magicians in a Treasure chest are back, with the ability to turn you into a frog or a turtle. Yep, they are still a major pain in the butt.
As for the rest of the game and frankly it’s like slipping into a warm bath of nostalgia as it slides down memory lane. Ghost ‘n Goblins looks instantly familiar when you look at it, but it is different; bosses are massive now, such as the Cyclops at the end of one of the first stages that leaps into the background to try and kill you. Even the way the regular enemies move and look is all very familiar; yet are much more detailed than before. The way Arthur moves, jumps and sheds armour when hit is absolutely right, and all in all the game looks brilliant. It sounds just right too, right down to the organ scale when you start a run, and I cannot fault the presentation at all. Even when the screen is full of enemies (and it gets very full indeed) there’s nary a hint of slowdown, and with the controls being as tight and responsive as you’d hope, the game is a joy to play.
Another new function is couch cooperative play, with a player sat next to you able to spawn in and join in the fight. The second player spawns as a kind of spirit that can take on the persona of any of the “Three Wise Guys”, although I’m not sure which is Larry, Curly or Mo. Basically, each aspect of the spirit’s personality gives them different abilities, from forming platforms for Arthur to stand on, to giving him a shield that blocks one hit. They are all useful. In fact, this two-player mode does make some boss battles almost trivial, with one running around attempting to stay alive whilst the other can just attack any weak spot.
All in all then and Ghosts n’ Goblins Resurrection is a triumph, and I have no hesitation in awarding it the highest score I can. Even beating the game isn’t the end, as each stage you played first time around (and there are multiple paths through the game to choose from) is turned into a “Shadow Stage”, with different enemies and layouts to beat. Doing all this, on Legend difficulty, will take a ridiculous amount of skill. There are not many games that will immediately beckon you forth to try and beat them once success has been found, but Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection is one of those games. If you are a fan of the franchise, you’ll love how true to the source material it is, and if you are new, well, you are in for a treat.
Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection is now available from the Xbox Store for £24.99