I was never a fan of the Ghosts ‘n Goblins. While I never got the play the arcade version, I did have the Mega Drive port and it literally drove kid me crazy with its insane difficulty…and this was during the 90s, where EVERY game had insane difficulty! So, when it came time to review Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection, I was pretty much dreading it.
After playing the game for hours, I was right.
Oh god, I was right. So very right.
What is Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection?
Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection is a remake of Ghost ‘n Goblins, one of Capcom’s earliest arcade hits. The game’s a 2D run and gun platformer (where you need to constantly move to stay alive from an endless swarm of baddies) and is available on Steam, the Playstation 4/5, Xbox One/Series and the Nintendo Switch.
Our review code was provided by the awesome folks (thanks Carrie and team!) at Capcom Asia.
If you’ve never heard of the series before, know that it’s infamous for it incredibly high difficulty. It was basically Dark Souls in 2D. Get Capcom Arcade Stadium and you can try it out for yourself!
Over the years, Capcom’s tried to do a ton of different things with the I.P. We got the Maximo series (which was a spiritual 3D sequel) and various remasters and remakes before we finally get to Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection…
As a remake, the game ditches most of the extraneous RPG-lite elements found in some of the later games in the series. With the exception of the magic you can learn (more on this later), this game is pure Ghosts ‘n Goblins madness through and through.
That might be a good or bad thing, depending on the gamer you are.
If you’re hardcore and love a challenge, then you’ll be in heaven. Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection is unapologetically hellish. It has no qualms of killing you over and over again. Cheap deaths? Yup. Enemies swarming you from all over? Yup. Stiff controls? Hell yeah.
This game is everything the original was, times a thousand. On later difficulties (hell, even on the easier ones), the game will chew you up and spit you out without hesitation. Enemies will hound you relentlessly. You’ll be forced to navigate obstacles while being chased.
All the while, Arthur controls like a brick.
There has been ZERO effort on the part of Capcom to accommodate Arthur for modern sensibilities.
Forget about shooting 360 degrees, double jumping, momentum or even air control. Once Arthur’s feet is off the ground, you’re committed to the jump.
It’s incredibly frustrating…which is 100% true to the original.
I honestly HATE that Arthur handles like a tank underwater, but since it’s accurate to the original, there’s really not much you can complain about. It is a remake after all, slavish reverence and dedication of the source material should be expected.
What I do wish (what with all the modern trappings included in the game) is for an alternate mode that modifies Arthur to have those things I mentioned. A modern version of Arthur if you will. I’d love to have it as DLC, because I honestly think an Arthur that can double jump, shoot at all angles and have air control will pretty much make the game feel really different.
That’d solve the issue for those who want a bit of a more modern take on Arthur and those who love the old school version that’s present in the remake.
In that, Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection is spot on in its attempt to emulate the original.
The remixed music and sound effects give the game that nostalgic feel while the new cartoony visuals (which makes the game look like something done in Flash honestly) brings a fresh twist to the game’s aesthetic. While I initially felt that the art design was a bit too different from the original, it did grow on me as I played.
On the other hand, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that I’d love a more gritty take on the game too, with ultra realistic visuals and a gothic slant. Like Maximo, but less cartoony!
Gameplay mechanics are pretty much the same as the original.
Arthur takes 2 hits (more on lower difficulties) to die on the default (in this case, highest) difficulty.
The first hit strips off his armor, the next kills him. On lower difficulties, it can take up to 5 hits to kill him. It’s pretty cool how it’s handled though. Instead of Arthur’s armor just being decimated on one hit, on lower difficulties it actually falls apart bit by bit.
Along with his armor, Arthur also has his trusty lance. You can pick up other weapons (like a dagger and hammer) in the stages, so it’s not like you’re forced to play a certain way. However, certain weapons will definitely have an advantage in certain segments.
Speaking of segments, stages are now selectable right from the beginning. Most of the time, you’re given two choices on which stage to play on. They’re thematic and one of them will always be a somewhat faithful remake of a stage from the original game, while the other is completely new.
Since the game doesn’t force you to advance, you can play every stage type with no problem.
The biggest addition to the game comes in the form of magic.
There’s a HUGE skill tree to progress through, unlocking a ton of different magics. From the ability to fire lighting across the whole damn screen, to being able to resurrect after dying, there’s magic for every play style!
You can’t unlock skills willy nilly though, you can to capture fireflies in the game’s various stages. These are used as currency for the unlocks, though you’ll have to follow a set path to unlock the higher magics.
The magic skills can drastically help with the game, but they’re not really required if you want to play through without them. Most of the offensive magic don’t affect bosses though, so you’ll still need to tough it out with your wits and skills when you face them.
How to find out which are advantageous?
Trial and error, just like it’s meant to be. Thankfully, the game now has a checkpoint system! That means you don’t need to restart the whole damn stage anymore if you die. Since lives are infinite now, you can keep on continuing (and continuing) from checkpoints with no worry.
In fact, you can even tweak settings (such as changing to a lower difficulty) from the Continue menu (which appears when you die). Even better, if you keep dying on bosses, the game will even offer hints on how to beat the one you’re fighting. All that’s left is memorizing the boss patterns and some luck.
That’s not to say that the whole game is a test in repetition and memory.
At least, that’s not all there is to it in the game’s new two player couch co-op mode.
If the single player game is a love letter to the original, then the co-op mode are the chocolates accompanying the letter.
The co-op mode has one player as Arthur, and another picking one of his ancestors. The player using Arthur has all the same abilities from the single player mode, nothing’s changed. It’s the second player that’s the new experience.
Balance is chucked out the window in the co-op mode. Areas which a single player would have trouble become a breeze with a second player helping out. It changes the game on a fundamental level, making difficulty a thing of the past as long as both players are competent.
If you’re sick of adventuring solo, the co-op mode certainly scratches the itch of playing with a partner while still maintaining the spirit of the series, if not the difficulty.
The Bottom Line.
Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection is yet another feather in Capcom’s remake cap,
It’s a great remake that’s incredibly faithful to the origial, while introducing new tweaks to improve on the base formula. While I’d have loved if those tweaks extended to Arthur as well, I can certainly see why from a design standpoint that would be counterproductive; the game would simply feel too different.
Still, the game isn’t one for everybody.
The obscene difficulty of the single player game (even on lower settings) will surely turn off those without patience and skill to master the stages and bosses. Arthur controlling so stiff and awkwardly only acerbates matters, true to the original or not.
On the flip side, the co-op mode is like a breath of fresh air to the series. It features a kinder, easier side to the game and is tons of fun whether you’re cooperating or screwing each other over. It’s totally unlike what you’d expect from a Ghost ‘n Goblins game.
Old school fans will love the single player mode but the co-op mode is incredibly fun too! Just be sure you can handle the difficulty.
- Single player is insanely tough.
- Remixed music and sound effects.
- Co-op mode is fun!
- Single player difficulty will turn a ton of casual gamers off.
- Some cheap deaths.