Ghouls ‘N Ghosts was an arcade classic, and Sega Mega Drive / Genesis owners were undoubtedly over the moon to be treated to an almost arcade perfect conversion in 1989. When the Super Nintendo came out, it needed some games to compete with its rival; quite soon after its launch Capcom was kind enough to treat Nintendo fans to Super Ghouls ‘N Ghosts.
Sir Arthur’s lady friend Princess Guinevere has been kidnapped yet again, so it’s up to you to guide him through eerie graveyards, sinking pirate ships and ice caverns in order to rescue her from the clutches of the evil Demon Emperor Sardius.
You start out in a fine suit of armour which offers protection, but if you get hit by a projectile or touch an enemy that drops away, leaving you only wearing your boxer shorts! It’s a novel alternative to a standard energy bar and one that never fails to make us chuckle to this day.
As you work your way through the stages you can pick up a range of different weapons such as throwing daggers, a scythe, a throwing axe, a bow or a flaming torch. The weapons vary in usefulness — you're going to find it pretty hard getting far in this game if you accidentally pick up the torch. You can also upgrade your armour, which affords you an extra hit before you end up in your undies, and also makes your weapons more powerful.
An interesting development since the original Ghouls ‘N Ghosts is that Arthur has now acquired the power to double-jump. It seemed crazy at the time to be able to perform a second jump with only thin air as your springboard, but it really is a stroke of genius as it cleverly allows some fiendish platforming challenges later on in the game. It’s really useful if you find yourself jumping into a bad situation — just quickly hop in the opposite direction!
Perhaps the only downside for many players is the incredibly punishing difficulty level; you will not find this game a pushover by any means. That being said, it never feels unfair or cheap — if you practice and learn to react quickly you’ll find you can progress without so many difficulties to the later levels.
Each level is varied and presents quite a challenge to the novice gamer; the key to progression in this game is to remember what will happen and reacting to it before it does. Each level ends with a boss battle to test your metal; they are hard, but with the right tactics success is guaranteed. The real annoyance is that to see the true ending you have to complete the whole game twice in a row! The second time around you are treated to a special weapon, but that doesn’t make up for this masochistic turn of events.
Super Ghouls 'N Ghosts looks amazing, with outstanding sprite work lots of neat little touches in the background.The Super Nintendo's mode 7 capabilities are put to good use later on, with platforms that rotate and fantastic end of level bosses which zoom in and out of the screen. There is no doubt here that Capcom was determined to exceed the masterpiece it had created in the original Ghouls ‘N Ghosts. Unfortunately in places there are some minor framerate problems, but these never really get in the way of your enjoyment. The soundtrack equally does not disappoint, with catchy spooky tunes and fitting sound effects.
Super Ghouls ‘N Ghosts is a great example of what the SNES was capable of. Almost 15 years later it is still every bit as enjoyable as it ever was. Not many games stand up to the test of time like this. If you fancy a stern challenge this is one of the best ways you could spend 800 points on Virtual Console. A true classic.