|Source // Arcade Museum|
If you thought Ghosts 'n Goblins was a worthwhile exercise in testing your patience and determination to complete a game, then Ghouls 'n Ghosts gives you a lot of the same and then some. Arriving a few years after the first game, Ghouls 'n Ghosts fine tunes the formula to deliver the action you know with a couple of new additions you don't.
I liked Ghosts 'n Goblins, despite getting absolutely nowhere in it, so it pleases me to learn that this sequel didn't skimp on the difficult in any way, shape or form. It's still hectic, enemies will still pop out of places you don't expect them to, and you've still got to go through the game twice to complete it.
So let's see how far through it I get.
Once again, you play as Arthur on a quest to save Princess Prin Prin, this time bringing her back to life after she, and people whom Arthur really isn't too fussed about, were killed by Lucifer of all people. Heavy.
To do that, you're armed with a throwable lance and can pick up a variety of other weapons and magical items with which to unleash havoc upon the undead hordes and vile monsters that try to halt your progress.
One hit will see you lose all your armour and a second hit will see you turn into a pile of bones, and thus lose a life. Like the first game, you'll probably be doing that an awful lot in Ghouls 'n Ghosts. I sure did...
I fared better than in the first game because I knew what kinds of things to expect, and so dispatching of the first two enemy types - vultures and the grim reaper, naturally - wasn't too difficult, even if they did sometimes catch me by surprise and knock off all my armour.
Environmental hazards are also thrown into the mix, and sometimes the environments themselves were my downfall - walking into a tombstone, thinking it was part of the background, not the foreground, caused the odd stumble, for example.
You might be wondering what the differences are between the two games. There are some, don't worry.
Some new mechanics have been introduced to Arthur since Ghosts 'n Goblins, including treasure chests which may contain a weapon or some gold armour that allows you to charge up whatever weapon you have to deal more damage. Most of the time the chest will contain an evil wizard who can turn you into a duck or an elderly man - both rather ineffective at saving the day.
It's no fun having fancy weapons if you can't use them when you want to, though, so the ability to throw weapons up and down while jumping helps round out the controls. I haven't personally found a need for such an addition, but then I am crap at Ghouls 'n Ghosts.
On the Sega Mega Drive port I'm playing - which doesn't look or play too shabby at all - there is the inclusion of a 'practice' difficulty mode, which is more lenient than the only other mode (professional) but we're still not talking a walk in the park for dear Arthur. No, this game demands your skill and then demands you to do it all over again after five levels, only this time, with the right weapon.
It is no surprise really that you're seeing an awful lot of screenshots from the first level and nothing else. The rest of the game does look fantastic, as I have since seen on YouTube, and if you liked your time trying to get through Ghosts 'n Goblins then you'll most certainly like your time going through Ghouls 'n Ghosts too.
Like many sequels, it really is a case of 'more of the same with tweaks where needed'. It doesn't go overboard, it doesn't take Arthur to space or give him a wisecracking sidekick, but, yes, it doesn't exactly do a whole lot more.
Does a sequel need to do a whole lot more in order to justify its inclusion on a best of list? Of course not. If it polishes and refines the gameplay of the first then there are no real excuses for avoiding it at all. I am going to be rubbish at it for a long time, but it is accessible to try and try again. I like the look, I've got a feel for the controls and the physics, I'm not put off by the sound... I'm just rubbish, but that's ok.
Pick up a controller and see how far you get. Pick up the controller again and go further.
Lucifer was renamed to Loki in some ports. Perhaps it's ok to upset some religious folks if their religion isn't big or anything?
Ghouls 'n Ghosts, developed by Capcom, first released in 1988.
Version played: Sega Mega Drive, 1990, via emulation.
Version watched: Arcade, 1988 (World of Longplays)