The year was 1986, Nintendo’s first home console was being released Nationwide in the United States of America and everyone fell in love with the console. Having found success in arcades, Capcom decided to bring their game Ghosts ‘n Goblins to the NES. What we’ve found out all these years later, is that Ghost ‘n Goblins has aged well and deserves to make a comeback.
Back in the early days of consoles, the best way to make a game last and to have its longevity boosted, was to make the game hard to the point that gamers would continue to try and try until they earned the satisfaction of accomplishment. There was no instant gratification, there were no microtransactions to streamline certain aspects of it, and there was no extra content cut and saved to be purchased for later. No, there was one experience and you had to earn those end game credits scrolling up your television screen. If you lived in a household like mine where money was tight, you got two games and if you wanted another, you first had to beat the two you already had. This adds extra emphasis on the importance of completing a game because it led to the acquiring of another.
Now, I didn’t start gaming until the 90’s when I was around four or five and I started with hand-me-downs. One of the first games I played on the NES was Ghosts ‘n Goblins and it was hard. Abysmally hard but, well, I loved it. I would, and still could, play that game for hours and just finishing it didn’t give me happiness, I wanted to master it. But what is Ghosts ‘n Goblins? I’m glad you asked.
The game comes from the brilliant Tokuro Fujiwara, I love you but eat your heart out Kojima, and it is a side-scrolling platforming game where you take on the role of Sir Arthur and save Princess Prin Prin. Yeah, it’s like Mario… But better and more twisted, like Quentin Tarantino and Guillermo del Toro called over Rob Zombie and the three of them decided to make a video game. Am I lying? Oh, ok. Wait till you hear this quick plot synopsis.
Princess Prin Prin is kidnapped by Satan, yeah SATAN, and you have to fight against enemies that are zombies, demons, and other monsters to rescue her. Like I said, just like Mario but less PG and a lot harder.
Now let’s talk about that sweet, sweet gameplay. Right off the bat, two hits and you lose a life. Oh, and if you lose a life, guess what? Back to the start of the level. That’s right, this game is a digital representation of a masochist at a mosh pit. Oh, it gets even better. The levels are timed, so if you take too long… guess what? Lose. Another. Life. Lose too many of those and it’s game over. Now, when you’re actually playing, you’ll be facing enemies on both directions coming to kill you and you’ll be throwing your trusty knife length lance at them as you continue moving forward. Once you finish all the levels and beat the game, no time to relax or gloat because you have to beat it a second time to get the true ending. Oh, you thought that first playthrough was hard? You ain’t seen nothing yet. I know, it’s amazing and I love it.
The music and graphics of the game are wonderful and have aged gracefully. Sir Arthur has made appearances in other games, most notably the Marvel Vs. Capcom series. The game has had sequels and spin-offs, it’s been ported to other consoles, but it hasn’t seen the main entry since two iOS games that launched back in 2009 and 2010 and that’s all I’ll say about them because mobile games break my heart. Sorry (not sorry) Sergio (Head Of The Loot Gaming Mobile Division)! They should make the next entry similar to how that had Strider brought back in 2014.
I think the golden age of gaming was from the launch of the NES and its competitors and before the launch of the Xbox 360 and its competitors. I have nothing against post 360 games, some of my favorite games have come from that and this era. I just feel before then, especially the NES, SNES, Sega, etc. were home to some of the most endearing and challenging games. A time where everything was a test of skill and performance couldn’t be manufactured. It was a fun time where a purchase was a complete one. So, in honor of that golden era and those great games those Fortnite savages know nothing about, I will attempt to do a weekly column where we dissect, talk, and explore these games. Some of them I’ve played, some I haven’t, but I’m sure we’ll have fun going through it.