Ghosts ‘N Goblins

I feel strongth welling in my body, but not enough to make rapid progres.

Review Date: February 24, 2021

Release Date: November 1, 1986

Platform: NES

Publisher: Capcom

Genre: Linear Platformer

Anecdotes: Sometime in 1987, I was at a house in the neighborhood. When I walked into the other room, there were two guys playing this game. They were in the blue section of level 3 and failing spectacularly at it. One guy threw the controller down and rage quit. The other reset and started over. The game looked interesting to me. However, we didn’t have it. I wanted it, so I made a deal with my parents. I could get the game, but I had to pay for it myself. I saved every coin I found in a jar. I saved any cash gifts. I did chores for the rest. I got the $30 and paid for the game. The game was mine. I did the same thing a year later to buy a second Nintendo so we didn’t need to fight over it.

The Arremer is in the way. A good shot with the javelin moves it, but it also attacks.

Description: Arthur is just casually sitting half naked next to a woman when the devil drops in and takes her away. From there, Arthur has to work his way across six levels that range from easy to hair pulling hard. Here’s a list:

  1. A graveyard and a forest. There’s nothing too difficult here and I really like the graphics of the forest area. The boss is a Unicorn.
  2. A literal Ghost Town. The first half is a platforming area and it’s a breeze. The second half includes the infuriating Big Man house, then more platforming before fighting two Unicorns.
  3. Mostly just caverns. The first half has a red background and offers a mild challenge, but the second half is blue and full of Red Arremers. Be careful not to break the controller at this point.
  4. More caverns. It’s a Super Mario type level with moving platforms and a suspension bridge that will have flames emerge from below. It’s practically a breather level compared to the others.
  5. The tower, part 1. The enemies get tougher and there are some tricky jumps, so any remaining player that hasn’t been frustrated yet will feel that way here. A devil waits at the end.
  6. The tower, part 2. It’s just more of level 5, but with old bosses showing up. The Cross weapon MUST be obtained to defeat Astaroth in what the game says is level 7. It takes the patience of a saint to not scream at the TV by this point, especially if the Cross was missed.

Positives: I must say I really like the music in levels 5 and 6. The middle levels theme isn’t bad, either. There is a small variety of weapons to find. The bosses (shockingly) are fair, except for weapon immunities. The developers were nice enough to include a hidden stage select code, which can skip Arthur past the brutal stage 2 Big Man house and stage 3 blue tower. I don’t think the game is excessively difficult if those two sections are excluded. It’s still quite challenging, but with infinite continues, players should be able to get through stages 1 and 4 with only a little frustration. 5 and 6 are very tough, but skilled players can clear them.

Negatives: This game is unforgiving at times. Arthur gets naked when hit once; he dies in two hits. A lot has been said about the difficulty of this game. Yes, it’s a challenge. Yes, it can be rough. I am NOT saying the game is easy; it’s not even close. However, I think a lot of that impression comes from the two hard portions of the game that are early on. The first is the Big Man house in stage 2. Each Big Man has to be hit 10 times with a weapon. However, the Big Man will charge at Arthur, but he stops briefly when hit. Meanwhile, Arthur can still be hit by Big Men dropping a ball from above and he has to worry about ravens that fly in at regular intervals. There is also a mild maze element to make it worse. The second area is the painful blue tower in stage 3. It’s full of Red Arremers that are tough to dodge. Arthur can be hit once and there is an armor hiding in there, but trying to get through a series of Arremers is a major challenge, even for skilled players. The restart music will get annoying because it will play every 30 seconds.

Got this memorized yet?

Now that I got that out, I’m moving on to the weapon shenanigans. All weapons have the same strength and only two can be on the screen. The only difference is their flight patterns and what bosses they can damage. There are only five, believe it or not. The javelin is a bit slow and must be swapped out before facing the Dragon. The axe is useless under any circumstances. The Cross is required to beat Astaroth, but it’s short range, so it’s not useful anywhere else. The dagger and torch are the best options, as they can be used on anything but Astaroth. Speaking of boss immunity to certain weapons, the game gives no indication of that. Even hitting the boss with said weapon won’t give players any clue.

More Screenshots:

Other than the black bar at the top, the forest looks really good. There are even two burritos flying around, too.
This is the first real challenge point of the game. Good luck.
Get used to seeing a bag of bones on the screen.
Bats swoop down on Arthur the second stage 3 starts.
Trying to do anything in this game as a frog is a bad idea.
Here’s the start of stage 5.

Grade: C


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