A challenge for all the hardcores
Old school games have long been known for extreme difficulty and Ghosts ‘n Goblins is one of the biggest contributors to this reputation. Released by Capcom for the arcade in 1985, Ghosts ‘n Goblins is about a knight named Arthur who must save Princess Prin Prin from demons, zombies, and other undead monsters.
The game features wildly and constantly respawning enemies, some tricky platforming, and controls that, while serviceable, can be a little stiff when compared to the challenge that you must face with them. Enemies by and large can all fly and Arthur lacks a weapon that can strike them out of the air ala the axe sub-weapon in Castlevania. You must wait for them to come to you. To make matters worse, a few foes are even programmed to dodge your attacks. Larger enemies and bosses can take up to and over 12 hits to kill.
Arthur himself can only take two hits before dying. After the first hit his armor is destroyed and he must continue on in his boxer shorts, which is a bizarre turn of events for a video game hero and maybe the franchise’s most memorable aspect other than its difficulty. There are a variety of weapons to be picked up to help you out, but they are all fairly similar in that you can only shoot them straight ahead of you. The shield is a unique weapon which you must pick up along the way to get to access the final stage. Unlike the other weapons it also acts as an enemy shot eraser.
Music in the game is limited to a few tracks since there’s only a few stages, but the tunes are catchy, in particular the first stage theme. The tracks fit well with the cartoonish graphics style to convey the game’s sense of whimsy without losing the urgency it wants the player to feel at the same time (though getting that feeling is not a problem since you’ll be spending most of your time dodging monsters and trying to make it ever farther toward the goal). Ghosts ‘n Goblins is for the most hardcore of players out there. Casual players will likely get frustrated and quit as early as the second stage. For those that take the challenge, though, there is always the satisfaction of getting as far as you can and maybe beating one of the hardest video games ever made.