King Arthur in slip in the forest
by Tibe (2012)
Who never heard of Capcom's Ghouls'n'Ghosts? Probably almost every human born after the fall of Berlin's wall, that's right. Please don't break my plans. Trail'n'Die was and undergenre of platform game, quite popular back in these late eighties. It consisted in a very difficult course where the player had to learn perfectly hard passages to come through, and then find sequences to fight against the hard Bosses. After the excellent Ghost'n'Goblins, released in 1985 and adapted to every 8-bit system on this planet, the editor, based on its success, strikes back with the sequel in 1988. Platform game which action takes place in the Middle-Ages, in a Heroic-Fantasy atmosphere, "Ghouls & Ghosts" is programmed on the CPS, Capcom's elite arcade hardware back then. Mixing platform and combat in the famous trail'n'die style, the game proposes to play as King Arthur, who will have to save his princess' soul from the clutches of Lucifer.
The action takes place mostly in a horizontal scrolling, but a few phases of vertical scrolling await the brave player who dares mess with this game. Player have to cross the stages while fighting with ghouls, skeletons and scavenging birds, running through obstacles and traps. At the end of each level, an evil boss awaits you. And I wish you good luck! Each one requires complex tactics to come through, so you'll have to learn those methods in order to pass ... without losing too much lives. Well, Ghouls'n'Ghost is a very difficult game, to say the least... Arthur starts the game with a spear and a silver armor that can only sustain one shock: after which we find ourselves in underwear, and there the slightest enemy touch, projectile received or trap will be deadly. All along the game, hidden in strange coffers, plenty of equipment can be found, including many different weapons: axes, knives, fire, magic weapons... but also and above all, the golden armor: it can load an overpowered attack by holding down the fire button.
Be careful, because the choice of weapon will be crucial, depending on where you are. Some are more powerful than others, some have a special attack more devastating than others... In addition, once dead, you will restart with the last one you collected: recover a bad (or inadequate) will be worse than dying, having you facing a malediction with an inappropriate arm at an inappropriate time, while this same arm would have been perfect two stages later... So, you'll have to discover all this on your own, to finally understand -and maybe master - the gameplay. Secondly, Ghouls'n'Ghosts realization is quite remarkable. Graphics are fine and the Middle-Ages atmosphere is palpable! Levels are few (five total) but varied enough and enemies so: the surprise is that it gets more beautiful while you get far in the game! The soundtrack is simplistic, but perfectly fits the action. And let's be realistic -and-indulgent- as the game still dates from 1988! The animation is fairly smooth and fast, although Arthur is a little stiff : nevermind, he still can save the princess, even with his broom in the ass!
Let's be clear about this beautiful Trail'n'Die: the action is taking, you will madly need to clear it, want to see the next stages, fight enemies and bosses. In the manner of Pulstar or R-Type, it is sometimes important to memorize by heart certain passages in order to come through: great reflexes are not always enough! The hero is a little steep, jumping and movements are a bit special: tell yourself that the controls of the game are good, but need a little time getting used to. The life is good, because if the game itself is quite short, the challenge it offers is enormous: completing the game once is quite a treat, so imagine twice. Capcom shows again its talents, both in terms of quality as well as gameplay depth -despite an apparent simplicity- by offering players a legendary arcade/platform game that is still a daunting challenge. Beautiful, taking, difficult... Ghouls'n'Ghost stands as an instant classic in its genre. Will you try to beat it?
|Graphic feat for a 1988 game! Stages are varied, colors subtlely chosen: big performance.|
|Overall smooth, despite Arthur's stiff gait, sprites move fast and well, while background are pretty alive.|
|Effects are common for the time, but musics are catchy and provide a creepy atmosphere.|
|Five long stages, hard Bosses, traps everywhere... and a surprise at the end! Game offers a very very hard challenge and a good replay value.|
|Simple but no vacancies. Controls are not perfect, but the game is fun and taking: Ghouls'n'Ghost has no equal in its era.|
|Here's a legendary arcade/platform game, beautiful, taking, and hard as hell! Good luck for clearing it...|
SAME ON THE NEO?
The game that reminds the most Ghouls'n'Ghosts on SNK's system is doubtlessly Magician Lord, for its dark, paranormal and magic atmosphere. The main character is bigger than in Capcom's game and three life points are granted from the start, but the difficulty is the same - is to say very, very hard.