GHOSTS 'N GOBLINS
Ghosts 'N Goblins. What can you say about a game so famously frustrating and challenging that it's practically a meme in video game culture now. For starters, I think the game is grossly over-represented as impossible. Impossible to beat? Well the best of NES players have proven that wrong, but even to the dedicated players it's certainly possible to try. Here's the frustrating thing about Ghosts 'N Goblins: Outside of a few poor choices of level design, the entire reason you can't beat this game is because of YOU. Pour in the insane amount of hours you put into a modern day JRPG and I would have a hard time believing you're not at the very least improving (slowly but surly).
There's so much more to this game than just difficulty. It gets the "horror" atmosphere and tone down tight a whole year before Castlevania makes its debut in the West. Enemies are so strong and dangerous that at times the situation can be genuinely frightening from a fun P.O.V. There's such variety in how to tackle situations and the idea of "picking your battles" that I often find the design of the game more inspiring than hard. I couldn't let this onto the essential games list because I can't imagine the idea of grinding (without player progression) fun in this day and age, but I think a gamer who thinks highly of his ability should definitely be humbled (and eventually overcome) Ghosts 'N Goblins.
You’ve probably heard a lot of horror stories about Ghosts ’n’ Goblins (no pun intended), and I’ll be honest, they’re probably all true. This is an extremely difficult game! You can easily spend hours trying to complete one level only to give up in frustration. But, if and when you do complete a level you're rewarded with an immense satisfaction that you can’t get with an easier game. It feels like the kind of game you really have to buckle down and push through all the losses to finally enjoy a victory. While it’s insanely difficult I wouldn’t necessarily say that it’s too punishing. It will never send you back to a previous level and it even has checkpoints in the middle of each level. As long as you don’t turn off your NES then it almost feels like you have unlimited lives, which gives you the opportunity to play the same section over and over and over again until you get it right.
While the game does a decent job of seeming difficult but fair, there are some glaring gameplay flaws. Several of the weapon pick ups have no real purpose and can actually be a burden if you accidentally pick them up (which happens a lot), they didn’t quite get the jumping and platforming down which can lead to some frustrating deaths, and…SPOILER ALERT: it makes you beat the entire game twice! That’s right, even if you reach the final level, before you can officially beat the game you have to go through every painstaking level a second time if you want to face the final boss.
When all is said and done, if you really like a challenge this game’s not bad, but don’t expect a relaxing pick up and play experience.
Y'know, it has been a LONG time since I've actually enjoyed one of these games. Mach Rider feels so far away now, a phantom memory. Was is all a dream? Alas, here comes Ghosts 'N Goblins, and it hurts so good.
Part of what makes this game feel so good in comparison to the last month or so is that it actually has polish! The lost art of level design has finally returned! I won't argue that the level design isn't actively malicious, because it is, but I'm just glad it's back.
Ghosts 'N Goblins primary descriptor is obviously "difficult" but with it comes an actual rewarding feeling when you succeed. I didn't feel it that much, because I'm trash at this game, but it's a refreshing feeling when I'M actually the problem, and not a shitty control scheme or vanishing sprites.
The world has flavor, whether its the cutesy little mini-map to show your progress, or the health indicator being whether you have clothes on or not. Ghosts 'N Goblins may be trolling the player, but at least is has a sense of humor doing it.