Hall of Fame Inductee
Ghosts ‘n’ Goblins
Original Release: 1985 (Arcade)
Designer: Tokuro Fujiwara
Developed by: Capcom
Published by: Capcom
Many people remember Capcom’s Ghosts ‘n’ Goblins for one reason: underwear. While it probably wasn’t the hook that Capcom was looking for, most people giggled when seeing Sir Arthur run around in his boxers trying to fight off evil demonic creatures. However, what kept players coming back to the game was the interesting game design, nice looking graphics, and addictive gameplay. Even though it was a side-scrolling action-platformer, it still managed to be one of the most popular and profitable games in the arcades in the middle of the 80s. It also proved to have a strong shelf life on the home console front.
Using the unoriginal premise of a knight in shining armour setting forth to save a captive princess, Ghosts ‘n’ Goblins still manages to deliver a decent story alongside fantastic gameplay elements. Sir Arthur explores the land in search of Princess Prin who has been captured by Satan (beyond unoriginal). Satan commands his minions to stop Sir Arthur from reaching his layer in the Demon World. Sir Arthur can equip many different types of weapons to stop the forces of evil. Getting hit by an enemy strips Sir Arthur out of his armour to his underwear. A second hit results in death. Once all the lives are exhausted, it’s game over. The game has a wicked difficulty level and only those with incredible skill or luck will make it to the end, only to find out after defeating the final boss that you need to restart the game all over again and accomplish the feat a second time to see the true ending. There were plenty of pounded consoles and thrown controllers when that plot twist was revealed to gamers for the first time but the game’s incredible gameplay kept players hooked for a second time around, even if they were grumbling about it.
The game was extremely popular in the arcades despite the fact that it was not a game that most arcade owners and operators would have liked to have been taking up space in their showrooms. The problem for them was that good players could get quite a bit of gameplay out of the game with only one quarter. This is quite unlike a game like Space Invaders which, for most of the population, is a game that only lasts for a few minutes. However, Ghosts ‘n’ Goblins‘s huge difficulty level made it so that players were constantly hitting the game over screen. Luckily, the game was so compelling that many gamers compulsively jammed the machine with more quarters to try and try again.
The game also performed strongly on the home market. It was ported over to most home consoles and computer systems of its time, but it saw the greatest amount of success on the Nintendo Entertainment System. While the NES version didn’t look anywhere as good as most of the other home versions available, the success of the NES itself made it so that most people consider the home port as the definitive version (as was the case with most arcade games from the mid-80s). The game was much later ported to the Game Boy Color in 1999, to decent reviews.
The series only saw three official sequels. Ghouls ‘n’ Ghosts was released in the arcade in 1988 to receptive audiences. Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts was released during the launch window of the Super Nintendo system in 1991 and later ported to several other systems. It too received high praise. In fact, both sequels are still warmly regarded by players today despite the fact that they are just as difficult to complete as the original. Fifteen years passed before the next game in the series came out. In 2006, the PSP saw a new Ghosts ‘n Goblins game released with Ultimate Ghosts ‘n Goblins. The game has also been made available through the Capcom Classics Collection on the Sony Playstation 2, Sony Playstation Portable, and the Microsoft Xbox, in addition to it being available on some mobile phone platforms and Nintendo’s Virtual Console service on the Wii (using the NES version).
Despite the fact that game itself only spawned three official sequels, there have been spin-offs from the main series and games that were inspired by Ghosts ‘n Goblins to hit the market. The Gargoyle’s Quest/Demon’s Crest series stars Red Arremer, an enemy from the Ghosts ‘n Goblins game. As well, there was an action-platformer series titled Maximo for the Playstation 2, where the main character was eerily similar to Sir Arthur; right down to the fact that he’s forced to fight in his boxers when he gets hit by enemies.
Even though we’ve seen very few Ghosts ‘n’ Goblins game throughout the years, each one of them has been high quality. While it’s debatable whether the first one is the best in the series, it’s easy to agree that Ghosts ‘n’ Goblins is one of the best games to come out of the 80s and one of the best games Capcom has ever made. Capcom is aware of this since they like to give Sir Arthur cameo appearances in some of their more casual video games. Thankfully, for those who never had a chance to play the game in the arcades or on the NES, Capcom has made sure the game is easy to find for anyone to play. Although it still isn’t all that easy a game to finish.