- Release Date (NA): February 25, 2021
- Publisher: Capcom
- Developer: Capcom
- Genres: Action, Platform
I feel like to most fans of retro games, Ghosts ‘n Goblins needs no introduction. A relic from the days of arcades and retro consoles, where “replayability” was synonymous with difficulty, this is a game infamous for being a cut above the rest. Pitting you against a seemingly endless onslaught of enemies, with no more than two hits to spare, Ghosts ‘n Goblins has a reputation for being punishingly difficult. Now the franchise is back on the Nintendo Switch after sitting dormant for over a decade, and Capcom has taken steps to shake the franchise up and make it a bit more accessible for new and old fans alike. But does this resurrection live up to the Ghosts ‘n Goblins legacy?
At its core, Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection sticks true to what the series is known for: brutal difficulty, pattern based platforming gameplay, and pushing yourself through each level until you eventually win. And that’s exactly what you’ll find in this latest iteration of the franchise as you guide Arthur through the demon realm to rescue the princess; business as usual for this gallant knight. All of your favourite enemies and weapons make a triumphant return as well, and even some classic stages and bosses return to plague Arthur’s quest. For long-time fans of the franchise, there’s plenty that’s familiar to complement the new additions, so you should feel right at home as you get slaughtered through the hordes of monsters. One complaint I do have, however, is that compared to other entries in the franchise, this game seems particularly slow. Whereas previous games would have you running, jumping, and throwing weapons as fast as you can against monsters that quickly close in on you, Resurrection sees Arthur almost taking an afternoon jog through the realm, flopping about while the creatures of the night slowly shamble towards you. It’s not game-breaking by any means, but when comparing gameplay here to previous entries, it was an obvious change that just doesn’t quite feel right. Branching pathways now give you options for how you progress through the game, able to choose between two stages every time you complete one. And the new shadow stage feature transforms both the look and difficulty of stages you’ve already completed when you return for your second playthrough, adding more difficulty and replayability to the game in this twist on the series’ classic loop.
There’s a number of gameplay changes that mix things up, while sticking true to the heart of Ghosts ‘n Goblins. The most prominent change? The addition of new difficulty options, a concept first introduced in the PlayStation Portable entry Ultimate Ghosts ‘n Goblins. There’s four available here, “Page” which is the easiest, as well as “Squire,” “Knight,” and “Legendary” which is described as being the true Ghosts ‘n Goblins experience. The primary differences you’ll notice in these lower difficulties is that each one has progressively less enemies, you have more in-game checkpoints, and you get one extra hit before dying. The last change is a huge departure from form in the series which infamously gives you only two hits until death. The Page difficulty also has a particularly different feature, that respawns you in safety within a couple seconds of dying which might actually be the least “Ghosts ‘n Goblins” thing I can possibly think of. The rest of these changes, however, are done in a way that keeps with the spirit of the franchise; there might be fewer enemies on screen in these lower difficulties, but those who remain still tenaciously pursue you, and require some pattern memorization to get through. It’s easier for sure, but I still wouldn’t necessarily call it “easy.” I spent plenty of time trying out each difficulty option, and while I was able to make some progress on the Knight setting I was most comfortable on the Squire option, and felt it struck the proper balance of “tough, but not overwhelmingly so.” For those who want the traditional, brutal Ghosts ‘n Goblins experience, though? Legendary is there to give you exactly what you’re looking for: two hit points, a ton of monsters, and fewer checkpoints in each level, putting emphasis on the progress you do manage to make. The four difficulty options gives you plenty of options, and the ability to, in a way, train yourself to get good. There’s also some content locked behind the higher difficulties that cheesing your way through on Squire won’t show you, so there’s a layer of replayability and incentive to get better built in. While some may argue that this goes against what Ghosts ‘n Goblins is “about,” I personally welcome these new options to make the franchise more accessible.
The magic system first introduced in the arcade sequel Ghouls ‘n Ghosts makes a return as well, this time in the form of the umbral tree. This is a literal branching system that allows you to customize and choose the magic abilities and skills that can assist Arthur along his quest. These unlockable abilities include a four way lightning blast to clear hordes of enemies, a couple of fire balls that act as a temporary shield, and the ability to turn into a boulder for a short time. These abilities are unlocked by gathering umbral bees in the levels, and they help turn the tides in your favour just a bit more. It isn’t totally weighted in your favour though, as you’ll have to charge each ability without being hit, and even then they don’t last very long at all. It’s helpful, but not a crutch that can be leaned on to get you through the more difficult levels. The final major deviation from classic form is the addition of co-op. You and a friend can now take on the challenge together. Player one will take the role of Arthur, while player two can swap between one of three ghostly companions at will to help take down monsters alongside the gallant protagonist of the series. Each ghost form also has different abilities to help outside of combat, such as building new platforms, carrying items to the player, and even picking up Arthur himself. They do have the limitation of “take a few hits and you die,” but much like in the Page difficulty, player two will respawn shortly after death like nothing ever happened. By nature, having a helping hand does end up making the game easier, but this is balanced a bit by Arthur’s death still being the trigger for a game over. Which means that even with the help, it’s still crucial to hone your skills if you and your player two hope to make it out alive. This co-op feature, like all new features, is entirely optional. Meaning that those who would prefer to brave the quest alone are entirely able to do so.
Beyond gameplay changes, another noticeable deviation from the classic games is the art direction. Resurrection opts for a very storybook-esque design style, with every monster and character looking like they’re made from paper and journeying through a pop-up book. This follows through into the gameplay itself as well, with new locations, set pieces, and enemies literally popping through the environment and in your path. The depth of a pop-up style world also comes into effect with a few enemies and boss fights, forcing you to change your strategy on the fly and literally adding a new layer to the gameplay. The sound design fits this aesthetic choice as well, with perfectly matching sound effects and music that enhances the dark yet magical feeling portrayed by the art.
Ultimately, I’m a fan of what Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection has to offer. It becomes a question of what are you looking for out of the game, and in that respect I think it has something to offer for just about everyone. If you’re new to the franchise and want a place to jump in and work up your skills, this is a perfect point of entry. If you’re a veteran looking to have yourself tested with a more traditional experience, Resurrection has that in spades. The game doesn’t pigeonhole itself into being one or the other, and offers plenty of customization to make the experience what you want while staying true to form for the series. All of that combined with some gorgeous visuals and sound. With all of that in mind, it’s hard not to appreciate this brutally fun title.
- Brings changes to the classic series while saying true to the roots of the franchise
- Gorgeous art design
- Full customization ability with how many or how few of these changes you want to use
- Game feels slower than previous iterations