Game: "Ghouls 'N Ghosts"
Published by: Capcom
Review: When it comes to the Ghouls 'n Ghosts series (including Ghosts 'n Goblins, of course), people are completely divided with their opinions on the games. They either love the games for their fantastic graphics and challenges, or they absolutely loathe them for being ridiculously difficult in certain areas. Personally, I belong to the former group... I simply can't get enough of these games or the challenges they present.
My first experience with Ghouls 'n Ghosts was when it was ported to the Sega Genesis, and while there were some slight graphical differences, it was generally a very faithful reproduction of the arcade experience. Still, if you're going to take the time to play this beast of an action game all the way through, you might as well play the arcade version with the best sound and graphics.
It all starts off with Arthur, the infamous hero knight who wears nothing beneath his armor than some polka-dot underwear, on a quest to rescue Princess Prin Prin who has once again been kidnapped by some evil demons. The gameplay itself is very much like the original Ghosts 'n Goblins game, but there are some significant changes in this version. For one thing, Arthur is able to shoot upwards and he can also shoot downwards while jumping (which comes heavily into play with one particularly nasty boss fight with a giant grub). He also can gain a special golden armor which enables him to unleash magical spells to fight off the hordes of demons with. While there are a few new weapons in the game, I still prefer the knife above all others. It's fast and when combined with the magical golden armor, it creates a shadow of yourself for twice the firing power.
As for the enemies themselves, there are more than enough just waiting to frustrate the hell out of you on your long journey to battle the evil Loki (Lucifer). Countless zombies, evil wizards who turn you into helpless ducks (no really), puking pigs, bouncing turtles, the twisty tongues of gargoyles, grabby hands, and of course, a handful of those red devils that never leave you alone until one of you is dead. The bosses are pretty spectacular as well. A giant cyclops zombie in armor who rips his head off before attacking you, an angry floating eyeball surrounded by electric storm clouds, the aforementioned giant grub with multiple hearts, and a giant bee that can break down into a swarm of invincible little bees.
And let's not forget Loki himself. Your battle with Loki as he sits upon his throne while shooting lasers at you as the floor crumbles into lava is nothing short of epic. He's a huge boss that takes up almost the entire screen and it's definitely a nice note to end the game on. There is one catch, however. As with the other games in this series, you have to play through the entire game TWICE before you're even allowed to fight Loki. You see, you can only kill him with a special weapon... and the only way to get that weapon is to travel all the way back to the beginning of the game and then fight your way back to Loki once again. This is the kind of challenge that truly tests your gaming fortitude (and if you're playing it in the arcade, be prepared to spend a lot of quarters because it'll test your wallet as well).
Ghouls 'n Ghosts may be one hell of a tough game, but that makes it all the more rewarding when you finally do manage kill Loki and rescue Princess Prin Prin. It has some of the best pixelated graphics you'll come across, some amazing enemies and bosses, highly creative and difficult challenges, and memorable music. If you ask me, there's really no reason why anybody shouldn't love it, even with having to play through it twice in order to win. Take the time to play through the whole game and hopefully you'll see exactly what I mean.
(Scored on a 0.5 - 5 pickles rating: 0.5 being the worst and 5 being the best)
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