Super Ghouls 'n Ghosts

Super Ghouls 'n Ghosts
Super Ghouls 'n Ghosts Cover
Platforms SNES, Saturn, PS1, PS2, PS3, Xbox, Xbox 360, GBA, PSP, Virtual Console
MtAMinutes to Action 4
Keep Playing? No
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Super Ghouls 'n Ghosts is a game I knew very little about. When I was about eight years old, a few of my friends said it was "the destroyer of worlds." Not just difficult, but impossible. None of my friends could progress very far, and as an eight year old, I wanted to prove to them that I was superior. Unfortunately, none of them would lend it to me, and I never really had the money to buy it and every time I went to the video store to rent it, it was always out. I don't know if it was just that popular, or if they lost it. I'm guessing the latter.

Now, I understand that it was made in 1991 by Capcom. It’s been ported to a bunch of different gaming platforms including the PlayStation, Sega Saturn, Game Boy Advance, PlayStation 2, Xbox, PlayStation Portable and Virtual Console on the Wii. 

It is the sequel to Ghosts 'n Goblins and Ghouls 'n Ghosts, and also loosely related to Demon's Crest. I've played games like Contra and got pretty far before hitting a mark that was impassable for me, even at the wee ages of nine. So I figured… how hard can this game be? Here's the first hour of Super Ghouls 'n Ghosts.

(minutes are in bold) 

00 - There’s a guy running down a bridge with a bunch of people there, and fireworks are shooting in the sky. The scene changes from looking onto the bridge, to being in a forest, looking in on the castle. The screen goes black for a second and then lightning illuminates the sky. The guy has a pretty wicked beard.

02Start the game – there’s a guy in basic knightly armor and a blue haired damsel in a dress, standing in the castle. I notice the absolutely fantastic music. Suddenly, through a giant window bursts out a red, winged demon that scoops the woman up and flies out.  

04 – Truly start the game! I’m in a sort of cemetery courtyard. I take a few steps and a black casket comes out of the ground and I immediately mash buttons and discover my attack button. I throw a lance and it kills it. Hell yes!  

05 – I immediately hit a small, grey barrier with a torch and try and jump over it. I can’t. Why the heck not? What is this crap? I spend way too much time killing zombies only to discover something really important. 

Super Ghouls n Ghosts Arthur

08 – I can double jump! Hoo-ha! Not bad. I don’t know why I didn’t try it. I was just too much into Mario mode, I suppose. I jump over the first hurdle, and then I see a chest appear. Like a dog chases a bone, I try jumping on it, only to land on it solidly. I jump down and get hit by a zombie, my armor breaks off, I’m wearing boxers now. 

09 - I jump and throw a few lances at the chest, while jump towards it. I break it only to have some blue Dracula/superhero guy pop and kill me while sending a blue ball out into the air 

10 – I note that I have two more lives left, and I’m back at the beginning of the level. I jump over the pillar and the chest pops on it again. Oh no, my friend, not falling for that crap again 

11 – I notice that the ground keeps shifting to make the pillars reachable. The graphics are very pleasing to the eye and the controls are very well set. They’re responsive and it doesn’t have the slippery feeling a lot of platformers have. 

12 – I get hit again by a new creature that I just discovered, some wolf thing atop this hill. Woops. I end up killing it by sending about 4 lances into it. It isn’t really all the dangerous. It just jumps in a large arc towards me, and is relatively easy to dodge by itself. 

14 – I pick up a new weapon. A bow and arrow appears at the top of my screen. Exciting. But it’s not really a bow and arrow. It’s another throwing weapon. It shoots in a 10 degree and 45 degree angel. It’s not bad, makes it easier to kill those damnedable wolves. 

Super Ghouls n Ghosts Arthur Boxers

16 – Suddenly a flaming totem appears that I didn’t see coming and I die. Again.  

17 – I start back up. Thankfully I still have my new weapon. I jump back over the same hurdles, and kill the wolf that got me the first time. I walk into this cage where there’s a giant back of cash that gives me 1000 points. What do points do? I have no clue. Some zombies drop 200 points of little glowing suits of armor. I thought it would give me extra life, unfortunately that is not the case.  

18 – I kill one of those flaming pillars in that cage and realize that they’re flaming skull pillars. Unfortunately I can’t hurt them while they’re dormant. I have to wait for them to become dangerous before I can hurt them. I find another skull in front of me.  

19 - While trying to tempt it and keep distance between me and it, I get smoke by a zombie, which breaks my armor, and sends me forward from recoil. The distance I accidently gained from being hit, activates the totem and while I try and kill two zombies that have sandwiched me, the totem smokes me with a fireball. I die. Game over. 

20 – The screen pans over a map that goes from the first level to the last, the 8th level. There are eight levels in this game and I’m still unable to get through the first level. 

21 – I start back up, and I still have my arrow weapon. I start getting a bit better at knowing what to expect. I get into the middle of the level and get hit by a zombie. I then pass another cage area and there are three wolves and two totems. The totems are in a caged area where I can’t hit them unless I am in the cage, but the fireballs are still lethal. I get served. 

Super Ghouls n Ghosts Arthur Castle

23 – The screen shows the diagram of the levels again. I start back up, and start making it. This game isn’t messing around, so I can’t either. I get back to the middle of the level and immediately go in the caged area and take out the two totems. 

24 – I walk out of the cage just while a casket appears out of the ground, it’s ethereal so I am not hurt, but I forgot about the three wolves and one hits me. I kill it, and then the other two. A chest appears. 

25 – I chance the chest, and a torch with a blue flame appears. I pick it up and experiment with my new weapon. I can throw two torches on the screen, no more. When it lands on the ground, it explodes forward, causing explosions to erupt from the ground in front of me for a very limited distance. 

27 – I am now a torch throwing boxer warrior! I am doing really well , and even pass through another caged area without getting scared when suddenly a shower of skulls erupt from the mouth of a totem I though was just background scenery and I die. 

28 – I discover that I can skip through the stupid diagram and appear right at the start. I still have my torch. One more death and it is game over again. I note that it feels like the game is getting harder. The zombies are appearing more often, and are starting to not just appear over the ground, but also in the area where my torch has trouble reaching. I get into the first cage and the flaming totem appears and the torch can’t hit it without jumping. I get hit. 

31 – I start running through, and another totem hits me. Game over. 

32 – I note that there are credits in the bottom left corner. I have 3 credits left. I run, get hit by a zombie right off the bat like an idiot, I try and take my time, and try and hit the totems with the torch, and have success. Just as I feel that I’m getting my groove back, I walk out of the cage and get hit by a zombie that I should have noticed. 

Super Ghouls n Ghosts Level Diagram

33 – Serious Frustration is setting in. I skip the stupid diagram and get hit by a wolf relatively early in the level. I can’t take anymore hits or I’ll die again, so I start booking it like I just stole a VCR, I suppose because I’m in my boxers. It’s more like booking it like I just stole a VCR while sleepwalking. I get hit by the skulls spewing from the giant grinning totems in the background. GAME OVER! 

35 – AGAIN WITH THE DIAGRAM?! I let it play out to give me time to recuperate. I noticed that sometimes, with platformers, a small respite is required after 30 minutes of playing a certain difficult level. I find it funny that this is applying on the first level. 

36 – I astoundingly make it further than I ever have, getting hit once by the totems and killing several wolves in the process and appear at a bridge.  

38 – I take a moment to examine the bridge. It looks fairly harmless and I assume that this is the end of this level, and I start running forward. Suddenly, there is a thunderous sound while a giant tidal wave appears in the background and suddenly washes me away. I am dead. 

39 – I try taking my time, but it’s impossible. So many zombies keep appearing, and it feels like more of them appear, and the flaming totems are making life impossible. I get hit again, and surprisingly make it to the bridge. I run, and try jumping on the gray pillar that did not disappear when the tidal wave smashed into everything, I over jump and die. 

42 – I book it again. I am simply running and throwing knives everywhere and I narrowly dodge a wolf while simultaneously dodging a fireball from a flaming totem. 

44 – I make it to the bridge and decide to pause the game and take a deep breath. 

Super Ghouls n Ghosts Arthur Dead

46 – I run onto the bridge and jump on the first pillar. I can’t believe I made it! Suddenly, a giant red clam jumps up and shoots me, and knocks me off of the pillar into the water. GAME OVER. 

49 – This time, I run and make it to the bridge unscathed. I get back on the gray pillar. The tidal wave comes and then I smoke the clam. It’s dead. Haha! 

51 – I jump to where the clam was. Almost died – forgot I had that double jump. I proceed forward and another tidal wave comes and I somehow survive it. I jump forward, and apparently I jumped too high and get killed by nothing. Wow. 

52 – I kill every enemy I see. Wolf, Totem, Zombie, whatever. I crack open a chest, wincing as if it were the biggest mistake I made only to find some green armor. I grab it and it’s a real upgrade. Now my arrows follow my enemies. Sweet! 

55 – I spent way too much time at the skull spewing totems and finally make it to the bridge. I make it to the gray pillar again, kill the stupid clam, only to over shoot my jump and fall in the water and die. 

57 – I book it, and get hit by a flaming totem. I kill it and then kill a wolf, I make it to the bridge again, and make it to the first pillar, then the second, then I jump and die. Game over.  

60 – I return to the opening scene. Apparently I had used all of my credits. Wonderful. Before I can start the game, the hour is up.

Super Ghouls n Ghosts Arthur win Bonus

First Hour Summary

Minutes to Action: 4

Gameplay: The controls are great, but something that made the game immeasurably hard was the fact that I couldn’t adjust where I was going after I jumped. Even though I understand that it’s physically impossible, I’m fighting zombies and werewolves and flaming totem poles. I feel that they could have allowed the player to adjust where they were going during a jump.  

Otherwise, the gameplay is well done. It’s fast paced and exciting. There’s a lot of action. A lot of fighting and jumping and after fighting so much and coming to that bridge, you forget that it’s a platformer and a lot of the challenge are the obstacles. 

One other thing to be said is the difficulty. This game isn’t easy, at all. Granted, I discovered later that there was a way to adjust the difficulty and how many lives you had. The difficulty I played on was normal, the third hardest. There are four difficulties: Beginner, Normal, Expert of Professional setting. I can’t imagine the game being harder than it was on normal difficulty.  

Fun Factor: Super Ghouls 'n Ghosts has some intense difficulty and uses cheap tricks on the player. For the first hour of gameplay, you would think that they would allow some space to at least make it to some kind of checkpoint before really blasting through the player. It’s ruthless. 

Despite being so difficult, it is fun. The controls, again, make the combat spectacular, and I like fighting the zombies. You could almost make it a game by itself, just having a bunch of zombies popping up with a little knight guy getting upgrades. It is a great combination. 

The fun is good initially, but is spoiled by the frustration that you have to die to learn the game. It’s so much trial and error and testing everything that there’s no way to really get through it without getting a lot of game over screens.  

Graphics and Sound: The game looks and sounds great. The only problem is the looping music that just plays over and over again. The graphics look great, and I will definitely be playing this game on Halloween. It gives me that feel of Halloween, and it makes it feel more like a kid. It gives me a feeling of nostalgia even though I’ve never played the game before. 

The graphics are creative, and the picture of Arthur running around in boxers is hilarious. You can tell that they spent a lot of time on the presentation of this game, which makes you really want to play to see everything you’re up against. 

The music is good, and sets the mood, but after 20 minutes (or 60 minutes if you’re me) on the first level, it starts to get old. I muted the game after 30 minutes.  It just increases the frustration you will feel while playing this game.  

Story: The story is almost non-existent. The only stuff that IS there is mostly unoriginal. The only reason I know that the main character’s name is Arthur is from the internet, since I don’t have the manual.  

The lack of story doesn’t hurt the game though. It’s a platformer. If all we need to know about Mario is that his name is Mario and there’s a princess to save, then that’s all we need to know about Super Ghouls ’N Ghosts. 

Overall: While it puts you in the action quickly, it’s seriously bogged down by the difficulty. It’s so challenging, and in a single hour I felt like I had accomplished nothing. I haven’t even fought a boss or anything. I simply got spanked for an hour. Its intensity is certainly something to be admired, but it’s also to be despised. 

But the setting is so great that I can really picture myself playing this on Halloween night and having a blast with a couple of brews. I can’t imagine playing this game while inebriated.  

This game is really something I’d have to take breaks from, and I’d rather play a game that was more of a challenge while being fair. The cheap tricks this game pulls aren’t really challenging as much as they are simply annoying. Jumping on a bridge only to have a tidal wave annihilate you is funny, if you haven’t been playing the game for 20 minutes.

In total, this game is something to experience, and I do want to try playing it more, but for a game that made it impossible for me to beat the first level in an hour, there’s something to be done about that.