Ghosts ‘n Goblins might just be my favorite classic Capcom arcade title of all time. It’s certainly punishing, but it taught me more about patience than any game pre-Demon’s Souls. I never expected Capcom to resurrect the franchise, but I’m glad it did. Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection is more than just a zombified version of the classic, opting to mix in modern conveniences to create an experience that can be enjoyed by everyone.
The story of Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection is a tale as old as time. Series protagonist Arthur and his love interest are relaxing in a field, when all of a sudden shadows begin to seize control of the land. As these shadows corrupt the Umbral Tree, the Demon Lord snatches the princess away and takes her to his castle. It’s up to Arthur to venture forth and save his beloved.
Along his adventure, Arthur will travel through five stages filled with enemies, traps, and terrifying bosses. In the first two segments of the journey, you have the choice between two levels, one new and one returning from the original Ghost ‘n Goblins. Which you pick doesn’t matter, as you can revisit stages as you wish. Starting on Stage 3, however, the path converges. I think it’s a little strange that they didn’t go all out and create new stages the whole way through, but it doesn’t detract from the experience any.
This is also because, much as in the prior games, beating the adventure once isn’t quite enough. Playing on Squire difficulty or higher, once you defeat the final boss, you get sent back to the beginning, at which point you can tackle shadow versions of previously completed stages. These shadow versions introduce significant changes to the levels, including adding new traps, new enemies, and changing up enemy placement. As familiar as I am with the opening stage of the game across all versions of Ghosts ‘n Goblins, I was fully expecting to breeze through the shadow version, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that it took me way longer than I expected.
Within each stage, you’ll fight your way through hordes of undead enemies, using one of eight different weapons, such as a lance, spiked disc, or hammer. Most weapons are throwable forward, upward, and, if you’re mid-air, downward. Platforming is incredibly precise, making some jumps a bit harder than they should be. In addition, you can’t control your horizontal momentum mid-jump, so if you want to gain distance, you need to be moving before you jump, much like in the classic.
Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection also adds Umbral Bees you can collect throughout the levels. Returning these to the Umbral Tree allows you to unlock a series of upgrades and magic for use in stages. Magic spells range from lightning to fire, to turning enemies to stone, while upgrades grant you increased inventory space or a chance to revive upon death. I found the magic to be a bit too situational for my liking, but some of the upgrades are well worth it, especially on higher difficulties.
Speaking of difficulties, there are four to choose from upon starting a new game. The easiest of these is Page, which is great for people interested in making sure they get through the game. While it locks off the second run, Page mode reduces the enemy count, allows you to take four hits before dying, and allows you to respawn where you died, making death nothing more then a tiny inconvenience. On the other end of the spectrum, Legend mode is akin to the classic experience, offering only two health before death and the most enemies.
If you’re looking for a challenge, you’ll find it here regardless of difficulty. Even on Page mode, there were areas I had to restart from the checkpoint at because of the nature of the level. For the most part though, things still feel fair and can be overcome via learning stages through repeated attempts. There were a few areas that felt a bit unfair though, such as in the final segment in Stage 4. In this autoscroller, you’re surrounded on all sides by teeth and have to navigate around traps and enemies while the teeth move and change shape around you. Your field of view is limited because of this dangerous border, making a lot of enemies come at you from offscreen with little time to react. Also, while the motion of the teeth is scripted, going into it the first few times means you can jump on a platform and notice that you’ll be crushed in about two seconds with absolutely no way to save yourself. This is something that becomes less of an issue as you repeatedly die and learn when and how the teeth move, but until you build that memory, the section is incredibly annoying.
One thing you can do to increase your chances of survival is to play the game with a second person locally. Though I was unable to do so and can’t speak to how well things are balanced, I did toy around with it a little to see how it works. Player 2 joins the fray in the form of one of three ghosts and acts more as an assistant than anything. Each ghost has a different type of attack (straight shot, spread shot, and downward curved shot) and two of them have abilities which I could see being rather useful. One ghost creates a bubble shield around itself, and when it’s close to Arthur, the shield envelops him too. Enemies which run into this shield take damage, which can be an effective way of killing monsters, as long as the shield doesn’t sustain too much damage. The other ghost can create platforms for Arthur to stand on, which also damages enemies who run into it. It doesn’t seem that the third ghost has an ability, but I’d imagine that’s made up for in some fashion. Unlike with Arthur, ghosts also respawn a few seconds after death, allowing the second player to never stay out of the action for too long.
Outside of gameplay, Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection is presented beautifully. The story is told via gorgeous fairy tale-like art along a scroll. The music is likewise fantastic and at times even pulls from the classic game. Really, the only issue I think might be a problem for some is the in-game art style. It’s a little cartoonish, with exaggerated limb motion. Honestly, I wasn’t sure I liked it at first, but it grew on me over time. I can definitely see it being an issue for some players though.
If you’re looking for a soul-crushingly difficult platformer, look no farther than Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection. It retains a lot of what made the original such a classic, while also updating it with some more modern mechanics. Despite a few areas that felt a little unfair, with patience, you should be able to complete a single run within a few hours, allowing the game to never feel like it overstays its welcome, even after completing it three times over a single weekend. Whether you’re a newcomer to the franchise or a long-time veteran, Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection is one hauntingly good time.
Release Date: Feb. 25, 2021
No. of Players: 1-2 players
Category: Action, Platformer
A review code was provided by the publisher.