Capcom’s Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection brings back a true classic from the arcade era. Does the formula hold up after 30+ years, and what has changed? We checked out the game, which is exclusive to the Nintendo Switch at this point in time.
I still remember the home conversions for the original Ghosts ‘n Goblins coming out, and was equally excited for the sequel, Ghouls ‘n Ghosts. At the time I didn’t even know they were originally arcade games, but that was mostly down to my age and not immediately thinking “arcade” when a Capcom logo popped up.
And while conversations about “difficult games” today veer towards “Souls-like” or “Super Meat Boy”, Ghosts ‘n Goblins used to be right up there as a prime example of a punishing level of difficulty. A few decades later, that hasn’t changed, but there’s a fresh layer of paint and I can honestly say that the screenshots don’t do it justice.
Originally a product of the 8-bit era with pixelated graphics, Ghosts ‘n Goblins in its resurrected form is now much more of a storybook that’s come to life. There’s a lot going on at any given moment, and not just where protagonist Arthur is on the screen. You’ll notice the undead crawling out from the soil, gargoyles flying around up the air, and plenty of environmental dangers as well – including fire, bottomless pits of death and the sharp knife edge of a guillotine.
Needless to say, there’s a lot that can kill you, and you’ll lose your life plenty of times before you make it through a level. Slowly learning the right patterns is the key to getting through, although Resurrection is also more generous with help than the old arcade games. You can downgrade the level of difficulty, aren’t limited to a fixed number of lives and there are mid-level checkpoints. I do want to stress that none of that makes it a walk in the park though – this will always be a challenging game and on the hardest difficulty levels you’re looking at dozens or even hundreds of deaths. To make up for that, the game offers additional content to those playing at higher difficulty tiers, so at least there’s an incentive for all that masochism.
Luckily, there’s always help available from the fairies that you can find in each level, which are the key to upgrading Arthur’s skills and unlocking new abilities. These are available at every difficulty level, and a necessity at the harder ones – though I’m sure we’ll see someone’s walkthrough video pop up where not a single upgrade was used and not a single life was lost. It’s a goal that feels waaaay out of reach for me (and I’m guessing most others), because many deaths feel almost unfair and impossible to avoid.
This is especially true for the shadow world versions of the existing levels that are even more challenging – but are also the key to some of that extra content and a different ending. It’s also applicable to the extremely challenging (and often lengthy) boss fights in the game, which can be a real downer in terms of the stone wall they provide at the end of an already grueling level. What doesn’t help in that sense is that Arthur doesn’t feel as agile as some of his modern counterparts in the action platforming genre, and it’s a throwback that takes some getting used to.
Still, despite the frustrations this is a beautiful throwback to a classic era that fans of the original games in the series will definitely want to pick up. For others, the difficulty/accessibility options are a welcome change, although they make it a different kind of experience where you don’t get all of the in-game content.