Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection is both a showcase of how versatile the RE Engine is and a reminder of how far we’ve come on home consoles. There’s no doubt it’s a fantastic remake – and I think there’s more than enough changes to argue this is no simple visual remaster – but the gameplay is grounded in another era and it’s catering to a niche market.
Ghosts ‘n Goblins comes from a time when most home console developers had started off designing coin-munching Arcade games. Games that had simple gameplay loops, a sparse narrative, and were often frustratingly difficult or simply designed never to end.
Ghosts ‘n Goblins, I’m happy to say, has both an ending and a (very) basic narrative, though it remains highly replayable thanks to a bevvy of new features. Gallant knight Arthur – who seemingly wears nothing but boxers under full plate armour – is relaxing on a hilltop when the kingdom is attacked by demons, the Umbral tree withered, and the princess is abducted.
That’s pretty much it until the credits roll. Despite his situation, the only narrative elements we see are Arthur’s angry expressions that play across his face when he encounters and defeats new villains. It’s ultimately the fairytale-inspired visuals and soundtrack that make it feel like a cohesive adventure.
When it comes to the basic action-platformer gameplay, surprisingly little has changed. Arthur still moves and jumps with the same awkward speed of the original, and he can still fling his trusty lance (and several other weapon types) at ridiculous speeds, but only in the cardinal directions. Stages still have time limits, enemies still spawn continuously, and jumping still requires pinpoint accuracy. Despite several new additions to make the game more accessible, Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection is, at its core, tough-as-nails and demands you stay focussed at all times.
Repetition is essential to success, and you can expect to die many, many times on your journey. Memorising levels, traps, enemy spawn locations, and attack patterns is vital. Pushing forward often feels like the only way to survive, as back-tracking to avoid foes simply spawns in more that might upset your rhythm. When you hit a zen state, it is a feeling of mastery as you cut down enemies as they emerge and leap bottomless pits with grace. Unfortunately, you can just as easily die repeatedly in one tough section and feel disheartened.
If that sounds brutal, you’ll be happy to know there are several new gameplay additions in Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection to aid new players. The first is a selectable difficulty: “Page” lets you take 4-hits, respawn where you fell, and removes the time limit; “Squire” lets you take 4-hits, provides checkpoints, but adds in the time limit; “Knight” drops you to 3-hits, has checkpoints and a time limit, but increases in enemy speed. Finally, for nostalgic masochists, “Legend” drops it to 2-hits, removes mid-stage checkpoints, and adds even more (speedy) enemies.
Regardless of your difficulty, there’s a new upgrade system that revolves around collecting “Umbral Bees” scattered in each of the 14 levels. These can be invested in restoring the Umbral tree, which provides powerful, charge-up magical abilities to help you survive. Finally, if you’ve got a local coop companion, they can join as P2, controlling one of three ancestors with unique abilities to aid Arthur on his journey.
No matter how your run is going – and I’d suggest a pillow for flinging controllers at while cursing – you’ll at least be charmed by the updated visuals and soundtrack. The stages retain parts of their original design and atmosphere, but the artwork and animations have been beautifully overhauled. Enemies now spawn into the level in interesting ways, parts of the stage shift and collapse to make it feel more dynamic, while boss fights look more intricate (even if spamming attacks and abusing invincibility frames after being hit remains viable). The remastered soundtrack is obviously a big step up from the 8-bit original but still manages to be simultaneously catchy and annoying.
All things considered, retro fans or those who love hardcore platformers should definitely consider picking up Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection. With a ton of stages, “shadow” variants of stages on replays, multiple difficulties modes, and several upgrade mechanics to max out, there’s no shortage of content. If, on the other hand, you’re easily frustrated by precision platformers, you might find this remake too frustrating to be enjoyable.
Developed and Published By Capcom
Available on the following Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC
This review is based on the Xbox version of the game which can be purchased here for £24.99
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