Release Date: October 1989
Developer: Sega R&D2
Arthur is back to fight the demons of hell in Ghouls’n Ghosts! It’s been almost three years since Ghosts ’n Goblins on the NES and I’d call this an updated version. Really, it’s a port of the arcade title released in 1988 and it’s a pretty good one. The Prince of Darkness, Loki, has taken your girl, the princess, once again and it’s up to you to save her. There are five levels of action, which you get to go through twice, in order to defeat the demon and be the hero.
Arthur begins equipped with the lance and can switch to many other weapons throughout the levels. The axe shoots in an upward direction, but is powerful. The sword is the only weapon that isn’t thrown, but it’s super strong and I liked it. The fire water is thrown on the ground and then creates flames to attack anything in its path. The discus was an interesting weapon that travels along the ground if you shoot while kneeling. The dagger is a quick weapon that I basically avoided. Finally, the Psycho Cannon is found in the second playthrough and is required to defeat the final boss. It’s super strong and awesome to use, unlike the bracelet from Ghosts ‘n Goblins.
Each weapon has a magic attack attached to it, except the final Psycho Cannon. I wasn’t really good enough to keep the golden magic armor for very long, nor did I understand that you needed to hold the B Button down to charge it, so I didn’t get to experiment with the magic too much. You seem to be invulnerable for a few frames while you use the magic, creating a definite strategy to using it.
Levels are swarming with continuously spawning enemies and obstacles. This is definitely one of those titles that will kill you dozens of times until you familiarize yourself with the layouts and mechanics. Luckily, continues are infinite and checkpoints exist in the middle of the level and right before the boss of the level. Bosses follow predictable patterns, but require plenty of hits to defeat. Level three is incredibly cheap with its auto scrolling and then the stupid demon statue tongues requiring perfect timing. Treasure chests appear as you go through the levels, but most of the time they have stupid Magicians inside them. They throw a spell at you that either turn you into a useless duck, or age you into an old man with slower abilities.
I went through the game legitimately for the first playthrough, but then resorted to time travel in the second playthrough when I got irritated. Equipped with the Psycho Cannon and the Magic Armor, bosses aren’t much trouble. It wouldn’t take forever to get through this one legitimately, I just didn’t want to spend all that time.
Graphics are good looking, but not great. The animations are very smooth, though, and I like them very much.
The sound effects are not up to the 16-bit moniker. Music outside of the first level is quite good.
Gameplay is very smooth. Arthur controls very well and the different weapons and magic are all useful in their own way.
Outside of a few parts, the game is hard, but fair. Once you learn the levels, you should be able to fly through without a ton of problems.
Fun Factor: 3.5
I had enough fun to want to go through the second time and beat the game. If I didn’t have so much to do, I would have liked to do it legitimately.
Overall Grade: 3.2
Ghouls’n Ghosts earns a B+. This is definitely a better game than the first on NES. It plays better, controls better, is better.