(Review archived from October 30, 2018)
The real question of course is why one would wear only a pair of boxer shorts under a full suit of plate mail. I mean the chaffing alone must be horrid, not to mention the oxidation effects of all that sweat build-up in the armor itself. Ah well, maybe when you have balls of solid cast iron, you don’t have to worry so much about chafing. We’re talking of course about Sir Arthur the iconic lead in the Ghouls n’ Ghosts (n’ Goblins) series of games.
Ghouls n’ Ghosts is the second game in that series slotting in between Ghosts n’ Goblins (Arthur’s fist adventure) and Super Ghouls n’ Ghosts (which despite the Super title is an entirely different game than this one). Following the events of the first game, Arthur went on a quest to discover the most powerful weapons and magicks in the event that Lucifer and his minions of Hell once again besieged the land. And wouldn’t you know it, they did attack while the kingdom didn’t have its native son to protect it! Naturally Arthur blazes a path back to the kingdom, but he’s too late … his beloved Princess … uh … Prin Prin lays dying, struck down by the demonic horde. Oh you suckas are gonna pay now …
As is often the case with sequels, perhaps the easiest way to judge it on its merits to by means of direct comparison to its predecessor. And in this regard Ghouls n’ Ghosts improves on Ghosts n’ Goblins in almost every conceivable way. The graphics and sound build admirably upon the rather rudimentary graphics of the first game. The weapon set has likewise been expanded not only to include new weapons, but individual weapons can be upgraded by means of pickups as well. But what’s more, you can now even fire your weaponry vertically (both upwards and downwards), in a noteworthy first for the series. I guess Arthur’s quest to discover new weapons really paid off after all! Whereas the first game was a relatively straight forward platforming affair, Ghouls n’ Ghosts incorporates some interesting mechanics that keep you on your toes. One auto scrolling segment has you jumping on statues … from tongue to tongue … as they extend and retract. It’s nice to see the series injecting fresh elements into the formula.
There are certain elements that you expect to find in a Ghouls/Ghosts/Goblins game though. The boxers shorts are obviously one element, and Ghouls n’ Ghosts maintains that quirky sense of humor the series is known for. Another element one expects to find in these games is the ball busting difficulty. Ghouls n’ Ghosts also keeps that aspect alive. This is a tough game, and it doesn’t always do the best job at maintaining an even progression of difficulty. I found levels 3 (which includes that auto scrolling segment I mentioned earlier) and 4 to be the most difficult levels in the game (there are five levels total). And of course there’s the ‘other’ aspect of these games that one expects … the way they infamously troll the player with a ‘false’ ending, at which point you have to play through the entire game a second time to get the ‘true’ ending. And just to be sure that they’ve really and fully poured some salt in the wound, the ‘real’ ending also requires that some rote objective has been met (if it’s not met you can’t even reach the true final boss). Yeah Ghouls n’ Ghosts obviously does that too (and FWIW the conditions that need to be met are that you must be wearing the Golden Armor and you must be armed with the Psycho Cannon). This is my least favorite aspect of these games. It just seems like the most disingenuous, kick-in-the-teeth means of extending gameplay. It’s a bit of a shame really because Ghouls n’ Ghosts is a great game, but I sure would have liked to have seen a few new/different levels rather than having to go through all of them twice. I guess it’s asking too much that the armies of Hell play fair, lol.
All the same, you kinda know what you’re getting yourself into when you play these games (and if you didn’t before, you do now). Ghouls n’ Ghosts is a good-enough game, and it is every inch of it representative of the series that spawned it. If you enjoy the series, you’ll enjoy this one. If you don’t enjoy the series … well those boxers are going to do nothing but chafe. Put some armor on, ya filthy degenerate.