#255 – Ghosts ‘N Goblins

Boxers or briefs?
High-resolution graphics? Nice try, Capcom.
Arthur and the disgusting plant, ladies and gentlemen!

PLAYERS: 1-2 alternating


DEVELOPER: Micronics

GENRE: Action

RELEASE DATE: November 1986

Ghosts ‘N Goblins: you play as a knight named Arthur and your goal is to get across six stages filled with zombies and goblins and red devils and crows and those plants from the “Little Shop of Horrors.” You get two hits before you’re dead. Any sort of armor replenishment is rare and hard to come by. The graphics are glitchy, making it easier to mistake enemy projectiles for background pixels. You basically need to be throwing your weapon constantly whether enemies are on the screen or not. It doesn’t eliminate your chances of getting hit, but it does decrease them. Yes, the game is beatable, thanks to unlimited continues and perhaps some Johnny Walker by your side. Yes, you will feel a sense of accomplishment when you beat it because it is so hard. But really, Ghosts and Goblins at its core, just isn’t very fun.

And now, an op-ed piece:

I’m not exactly sure why this game is so widely renowned, but I have a couple ideas. It was made by the young bucks at Capcom, and people widely consider their work on the NES to be some of their best. It came out in 1986 when the NES didn’t have much going for it beyond some of the original launch titles. And it was- er, is hard as balls. It is fall down to your knees, throw your NES controller at the wall, and sob because you thought you were a decent gamer hard. And yet, old-school gamers thrive on brutal difficulty, which is ultimately, to me, the main reason why this game is so well-remembered, even now. I don’t understand it. Why would you want to punish yourself? I can understand wanting a challenge especially as games today have really made challenge more of an option and less of a reality. Still, the older I get, the more I play games to relax, to take a sit down and not think about real world struggles and problems. When faced with Arthur and his skivvies throwing javelins wildly, jumping this way and that, I can’t help but get anxious. Despite that, critical consensus still sways me. I can’t help but think of Ghosts ‘N Goblins as a series as anything less than “classic.” That doesn’t mean I have to like it.


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11 replies on “#255 – Ghosts ‘N Goblins”

Yeah, this is a game that REALLY doesn’t hold up well to the test of time. I remember beating this title, and nearly going nuts in the process. As it was one of the earlier titles I played, I didn’t know much better. It wasn’t even really a game I liked that much, I was just hellbent on beating it. Once I did, I never touched it again.

…and of course, the garbage-flavored icing on top of the crap cake: every time you die, which is about once every minute, you get to watch how far you still have to go on that horrible map screen which lasts a solid 15-20 seconds. No gracias, GNG. Btw great job on the quest to review, DC. Have been enjoying the insights.

Really? A “D”?!! Surely you are mistaken sir. This is one of my favorite NES games. Granted, it is stupefyingly difficult on the level of Contra or Battletoads, but therein lays its charm. There are two ways to play Ghosts n’ Goblins: you can either let your anger/frustration consume you until you’re snapping controllers in half, OR you can let that same frustration wash over you until you descend into a chasm of hysterical insanity where every death sends you into fits of maniacal laughter. I choose to play in the latter fashion, and the insane challenge is what keeps me coming back for more. I miss games where the only challenge was just making it to the end of a level without getting a game over. All that aside, this game also features a plot that begins with you having a picnic at night, in your undies, in a graveyard with your girlfriend, who is subsequently stolen by the devil. I don’t know about you, but I can certainly relate to that exact scenario. To top it off, there is wide array of ridiculous enemies, such as condom-shaped ghosts that fart helium as a means of locomotion, and birds that are deadlier than fire breathing demons.
I wonder if it’s possible that in a sleep deprived, video-game saturated state that you hit “ D” instead of “B” mistakenly when you issued your rating (they are pretty close on the keyboard)

-Carcass 2000

PS: Keep up the good work, while I may not agree with every “rating” you give, I am enjoying your insights/opinions/reviews immensely, and have learned quite a bit about games I’ve been curious about, but I’m way too cheap to buy (i.e Little Samson, Duck Tales 2)

@Carcass 2000: First, I’m glad you’ve been enjoying the reviews! Always nice to receive compliments, so thank you.

As for the grade, a ‘D’ is accurate. I’m more than willing to replay games to see if my opinions change over time, but I really don’t see the appeal of Ghosts N Goblins. The stupefying difficulty is only one part of the problem. I really just don’t enjoy the game. If a game is fun, it doesn’t matter how difficult it is, as I’ll want to continue playing it.

I appreciate your zeal for one of your favorite NES games. Thanks for reading, and please continue to leave entertaining comments like this one.

The worst part was the weapons. None of them are any good except the knife that you get in thefirst level. Everything else just flat out sucks balls.

I love this game though, psycho difficulty and forcing me to rage out until I go insane.

Its also my earliest memories of nintendo. That, and bump n jump.

A tweak im the level of difficulty and tightening of the screws on the controls could have easily made this a ‘B’ grade game.

I think the biggest problem here is that Micronics did such a lousy job of porting the game over to 8-bit console form. The original arcade version was just as hard, but the controls were mostly less touchy, the graphics weren’t glitchy, you didn’t have bosses who were immune to certain weapons (thus forcing you to drop the superior dagger), and it was just an overall more playable experience.

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