Little did I know the Super moniker attached to Super Ghouls 'N Ghosts
alluded to the Super NES release of the game. Ghosts is a classic
platform action title where you generally go from left to right,
although the level design in Ghosts is immaculate and intensely
challenging. Ghosts follows the story of Arthur as he battles through
various quests to save a damsel in distress.
The game sounds pretty straightforward so far. While Ghosts has
configurable difficulty levels and also a much needed save game feature,
it is a daunting challenge nonetheless. Some of the later levels
feature sequences that need to be performed step by step with perfect
timing. It was a bit like working through choreographed stunt sequences,
except there is no choreographer. You are your own choreographer and
it's up to you to find the best steps to actually move through the level
designs. This is where the save feature comes in handy. Enemies will
pop out behind you and you'll have to make perfect dashes, above, over,
under and through obstacles a la Indiana Jones.
There are only two units of health for our knightly hero. By default,
he has a set of armor. After that wears off, (usually with one bump
from a monster) you're in your underwear trying to save your life. You
can augment your arsenal with different pieces of armor and weapons but
all throughout the game, the sense of vulnerability doesn't ever fade,
even if Arthur looks really menacing on the box art.
Don't let the cute and cartoonish graphics fool you, there is nothing
lighthearted about the near diabolical levels you'll go through.
Luckily, there is a sense of accomplishment at the end of each sequence,
which works up the motivation for the next round. A lot of the platform
puzzles are about timing and it is inherent the developers know you'll
be going through these sequences time and time again. There is little
over half a dozen levels and the first one is meant to be easing you
into the game.
The audio-visuals are all very charming. You get a lot of satisfaction
taking out a horde of undead and the musical soundtrack, while not epic,
does at least go along with the themes of the levels.
There's something particularly addictive about Ghosts. The objective is
very simple and to be honest, the graphics look a little quaint on the
Game Boy Advance. They aren't stellar, like Konami's recent
Castlevania. It certainly lacks equivalency in terms of artistic flare
and attitude. But, Ghosts is still enjoyable. Recently, I powered up
my Dreamcast to take a swing at Ikaruga, a space shooter title in the
vein of Raiden. Why is it that we continue to be intrigued by such
simple titles that date all the way back to Space Invaders? Perhaps
it's the instant gratification. Ghosts is no different in its appeal.
Having never played the original, I have no idea what fans of the series
will expect from this. My guess is: anyone who played the original for
any length of time will still have portions of the game memorized. Will
they think Capcom is trying again to capitalize on its older franchises?
They seem to be doing well with this trend. Resident Evil on the
GameCube is indicative of that. However, I wished the developers would
go back and implement a slightly easier version of the game. As it
stands now, a round of Ghosts on the easiest difficulty level could
effortlessly be harder than another game on its hardest setting. So
while the fundamentals are all great, my caveat emptor is: If you're
not willing to fight for every inch in this game, do yourself a favor
and concede defeat before you head to the checkout line with the game.