(VC Arcade / Virtual Console Arcade)

Black Tiger (VC Arcade / Virtual Console Arcade)

Game Review

Black Tiger Review

Europe PAL Version

Posted by Marcel van Duyn

Ghosts 'n Goblins 'n Gimmicks

In 1985, Capcom released the infamous Ghosts 'n Goblins upon the world. Still regarded as one of the most challenging games ever made, it was a smash hit and cost many players many, many quarters as they died again and again. Although it would get a sequel eventually, after two years, Capcom decided to make a similar game with a few added gameplay elements.

In Black Tiger, you take control of the titular hero, a barbarian warrior attempting to save his kingdom from the usual invasion of monsters, eventually slaying a dragon to save the princess and restore peace to the land.

The game pretty much plays exactly like Ghosts 'n Goblins with some added depth. You need to make your way through eight stages (only once, thankfully), defeating nearly endless monsters that seem to spawn everywhere around you, and conquer a boss at the end of every level. What's different is that while platforming was fairly low-key in GnG, it plays a much more important role here as you'll almost be doing just as much of it as you are killing enemies.

Aside from having to simply jump gaps, you'll frequently need to climb up long pillars, or even leap between them, and as enemies can be located on them or in the air near them this can sometimes prove difficult. Thankfully, you can still attack while you're climbing. Another important part of the game is rescuing old men who have been turned to stone. Each one you save will give you a hint, money, extra time, or will open up a shop for you for 20 seconds, allowing you to purchase better weapons and armour, keys to open chests with or potions to protect yourself from poison.

Each stage also features a large amount of pots and chests to open, each one containing money or powerups (although chests sometimes contain traps, so watch out!). There is also a "dungeon" you can enter in each level to rescue some extra old men, but should you die in these you are kicked out immediately, so make the most of them.

Black Tiger's default weapon never really changes and only gets better as you upgrade: it starts off as a ball and chain, with the ball changing into a scythe, axe and other weapons with each improvement. Aside from increased power, this will also increase the length of your chain, eventually allowing you to hit enemies at the edge of the screen while you're in the center. The weapon also fires projectiles diagonally upward with each swing, which, although not too powerful, can be quite helpful. Should you contract poison from certain enemies, the projectiles will cease to functions, so for this reason it is handy to always pack some anti-poison potions.

Your hero's armour is almost as fragile as Arthur's at the get-go, with two hits destroying it and then one further hit reducing you to dust, but due to the shops that thankfully shouldn't last long, as the best armour you can purchase is able to take a whopping eight hits before finally ceasing to exist.

Unfortunately, one massive problem with the game is that you will be taking those eight hits. While GnG is at least somewhat lenient on the enemies, Black Tiger just keeps spawning them everywhere, which truly makes for some situations where it is completely impossible to avoid getting bonked. Enemies will frequently be both in front, behind, above and in the air in front and behind you, and it's just not possible to kill them all without them hitting you first.

While you can just be a cheapskate (especially now on Virtual Console) and just keep inserting credits to continue (as you start off very close to where you died every time), it gets incredibly annoying seeing the continue screen pop up five or more times per stage, and once you reach a certain point it's almost impossible to prevent this.

The only way this won't happen is if you clear the first two or three stages perfectly, racking up as much cash as you can and buying the best weapon and protection there is, keeping a large supply of extra money at the ready to quickly replenish your armour should you lose it later on. Collecting money simply doesn't go that fast later on without the proper equipment, especially if each enemy takes fifteen hits to kill while you die in three.

Another big problem with the game is that pixel-perfect jumping is required almost everywhere. Whether it's for jumping across pits or over bosses, if you're a hair off the edge before jumping, you will fall just short or your target and either take a hit or, of course, die instantly. Better practice your timing!

Graphics and music-wise the game is pretty good. While it might seems like each of the first few levels are palette swaps of each other (which they are), you will travel through a few other locations later on which look pretty nice and completely different from the earlier stages. The music isn't particularly catchy or memorable, but it's not too bad.


Black Tiger's entertainment value is pretty much directly tied to your gaming skill. If you can do well enough in the first few levels to kit yourself out with good stuff, then it should be possible to beat the rest of the game without too much resistance, provided you've mastered your jumping skills. Those first few levels thankfully aren't as hard as, say, those in Ghosts 'n Goblins, but if you just cannot manage to do well in the beginning, then the rest of the game will just be one long, boring slog of repeatedly inserting extra coins and continuing.

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User Comments (24)



Corbs said:

Sounds just right. I spent many a quarter on this baby back in the day and while it does start off fairly manageable, it quickly gets tough.



Shiryu said:

I still prefer "Magic Sword", but it's hard to fault this one for what it is: a challenging, tough classic platformed that never got it's due credit back then.



RocketBird said:

Nostalgia might just cloud my judgment on this one...same thing happened for VC arcade Ninja Gaiden...loved that one as a kid and that's a TERRIBLE game...might just risk the same with this one.



Spoony_Tech said:

Never played it before but seem interesting. Looks good for its time as well. I'm never afraid of a challenge but don't like ghosts n goblins that much. So this looks like a good alternative.



Omega said:

I don't know why... but this game makes me think of the Arnold Schwarzenegger movie Conan the Barbarian. And Rastan and Rygar on the Sega Master System.



homerhomer said:

This game rocks! I've played this game a lot and I think this game is way easier than ghost and goblins. I love how there is hidden stuff to find ( elephant on the first stage ) The enemies pretty much all have patterns and they are not too hard to learn. I really like how the level design is not just walking left to right and it really makes each level feel special. Probably the hardest part about this game is the jumping in the later stages, just to help ya out, You need to press diagonal up and right when you jump on one of the later stages.

I'll buy it, but I wish Capcom would just release there classics collection on the Wii



SwerdMurd said:

I must say I also prefer Magic Sword, but not by much...I played this game at Gattis when I was like 5, so nostalgia plays a pretty weighty part.



Sean_Aaron said:

I love this game and also Magic Sword (hopefully) that will be along soon).

Even though it get's pretty tough (I think the best I've managed on o e credit is level 5), the ability to buy weapons and armour gives a greater feeling of control. The fact that each level can be roamed pretty freely provides an open-world feel you don't get in platformers generally and is almost unheard of in a mid-eighties arcade game. I find it much more accessible than Ghosts 'n' Goblins.



JebbyDeringer said:

This and Magic Sword are the sounds that define the arcade for me. When I played these games in later years (late 90s) the sound brought me straight back to my childhood despite not remembering much else about the games. Sure the older games also have the classic arcade sound but when I started going to arcades it was during the aural assault phase where they threw out as many sound FX as possible to attract you.



MeloMan said:

I can't recall if I came across this game or not... either way, I'm partial to arcade games, and I like how this looks in action. I got my satisfaction of getting my rear handed to me before finally conquering GnG arcade, so I may just throw in on this. I'm in agreement with the person above that talked about Ninja Gaiden arcade... I too remember that being much better back in the day.

This statement is win though: * There is also a "dungeon" you can enter in each level to rescue some extra old men* Extra men, or just extra old?



StarBoy91 said:

I as well pretty much prefer Magic Sword, but this game is not bad.
Good review, Drake.



the_shpydar said:

Considering grabbing this one. Unless my inner-masochist gets the better of me and i finally grab GnG.

For those mentioning Magic Sword (great game), FYI, it's available on XBLA (and PSN?) as part of Final Fight:Double Impact.



RocketBird said:

I gave in and got it today. Definitely enjoying it. Only got to level 2 but only played a little bit. Overall I'm pleased, no where near the disappointment Ninja Gaiden Arcade was.



ogo79 said:

its also available on ps2, and this is funny because i just ordered capcom classics collection vol 2. didnt really know these two games went hand in hand. cool



NeoShinobi said:

I really like the look of this game. I've never played it, but it looks like alot more fun than Ghost'n Goblins.



Bakajin said:

Never heard of this before, bu it sounds really fun. I'll probably download it by the end of the week.



Rarewarefan7495 said:

Score seems about right. This game like Ghost's N Goblins was a true quarter muncher along with Exed Exes, Son Son, and Shinobi.



Ristar42 said:

I'd never played this, but I liked the look so downloaded it. Just completed the game and I think its great. I lost a lot but continue points are much kinder than GnG and I hardly had any problem with the jumps.
Sort of reminded me of playing 'Beyond the Ice Palace' on my C64 years back. By the way, if you want real frustration try going back in time and having to multi-load 8-bit games off a cassette tape.



Omega said:

Ristar42 wrote:

if you want real frustration try going back in time and having to multi-load 8-bit games off a cassette tape.

O yeah! I had tapes where the loading time was 20 minutes or so (no fastload). And I remember how angry I was when at the end the dreaded
appeared on the screen. He he...old good times.



TTGlider said:

Just bought it. Love the music! And plenty of VCA options too (looks best with the scanline simulation). Kinda tricky so far, though.



Falk_Sturmfels said:

I downloaded it too. Pretty hard, but you can lower the difficulty in the VCA options. There are 6 difficulties, and the game is set on the 5th of these 6 Levels! I lowered it down to 1, and then you can play it without thousand continues. I never liked that the Arcadegames back in the days were so incredible hard. I will train it now all the way up, because the stages are pretty short, if you know the way. Guess, how many coins we would have spended in 1987, to do that!

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