Genre: Platformer Developer: Sega Enterprises Publisher: Sega Enterprises Players: 1-2 Released: 1989
From the back of the box: The time is yesteryear, when knights scoured the countryside in search of the Holy Grail, defended the honor of fair maidens and fought a never ending battle against rampant evil forces. Thrown into this mayhem, is the courageous Sir Arthur. A victorious knight with the awesome task of penetrating the Demon’s Castle to pulverize the Prince of Darkness. Can he do it? It’s up to you!
Released in 1989, the word was that it was an almost perfect arcade conversion of the original Capcom arcade game, although I hear some of the backgrounds were changed in one of the later areas. Regardless, this is one of the finest platformers on the Genesis, even fifteen years after its release. It’s actually a sequel to an older game that appeared in the Arcades and NES called Ghosts ‘N Goblins.
The graphics are great for a first year Genesis game. The parallax scrolling in some areas is amazing. The sprites are ok and were good, considering this is a launch title (the system would be pushed much further in its later years). Even though the mood was kept intentionally dark and gothic, Ghouls ‘N Ghosts has a lot of lighthearted humor in it. It features everything from running around in boxer shorts, to being turned into a duck or an old man. Each level is unique, from the graveyard, to the burning village, and even the demon castle. Some monsters reappear in different levels, but they fit well into the theme of each area when they are reused.
The music was incredible for the Genesis and helped promote the dark feel the game carried, and helped immerse you in the game. Each level has its own theme, all of them beautifully translated to the Genesis. With the quality and clarity of the music, why did so many other games of the time have muffled and downright terrible music and sound? On the other hand, the sound effects are good for the kind of game but nothing particularly memorable.
The story is the most basic, and clichéd in video games: save the princess from the evil villain. The beginning screen shows a map of the entire game and your location on it. This helps in showing you how far you are from destroying the Prince of Darkness. The map is too indistinct to see what you’re going to face in each area, but at least you know what color the level will be and more or less how long it is. The screen is shown at the beginning of each new life, including after you use a continue.
The gameplay is great, but sometimes the jumping system can be irritating. The length or direction of the jump cannot be changed while in the air like in games such as Sonic or Mario Bros. This makes jumping between platforms difficult, until you become comfortable with the game. Also, the difficulty level is through the roof. If you get hit once, you loose your armor and are left in boxers, and getting hit again means certain death. Treasure chests sparsely appear in the levels and many times contain an enemy rather than goodies.
Sir Arthur doesn’t just throw lances. Numerous and sometimes very different weapons randomly appear throughout the game. Weapons include throwing spears, daggers, hand held large swords, axes, and holy water. Each one has a secondary magic effect when used in conjunction with magic armor. It took me a bit to figure out that the magic armor was an offensive item rather than a defensive item.
I personally don’t have a high tolerance for frustration in games. However, I found myself playing and continuing over and over again, death after death, to continue on through the game. The game eases you back in after dying and has continuation points at the beginning, middle, and end (where the boss is) of each level. Ghouls ‘N Ghosts has no limit on using continues. You’ll find yourself playing all night, so try to start early.
To summarize; good graphics, great music, ultra-fun & very addictive gameplay. What more do you need? This is a game every Genesis owner should have in his or her library.
SCORE: 9 out of 10