(Super Nintendo)

Super Ghouls 'n Ghosts (Super Nintendo)

Game Review

Super Ghouls 'n Ghosts Review

Europe PAL Version

Posted by Damien McFerran

Bring fresh underwear

There’s a school of thought which argues that modern gamers have it too easy, and that this generation of players has grown soft thanks to the fact that developers are all too happy to provide helpful tutorials and short-cuts intended to reduce frustration. You only need to spend a few painful minutes in the company of Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts to realise that this stance has a lot of merit — Capcom’s SNES exclusive is almost sadistically difficult, and makes no attempt whatsoever to ease you into the experience. Right from the off, it delights in repeatedly tripping you up and seemingly mocking your ineptitude — yet you keep coming back for more. That, ladies and gentlemen, is the hallmark of a classic video game.

Placed in the armour of Sir Arthur, your ultimate quest is to rescue your beloved Princess Guinevere from the clutches of the evil Emperor Sardius. To achieve this goal, he must battle his way through several ghoul-filled levels, taking down a fearsome end-of-level boss in each before moving onto the next realm. Arthur is protected by a suit of armour which is shed upon contact with a foe or projectile, leaving our plucky hero with nothing but his underpants to shield himself from the elements. Unsurprisingly, another hit results in death, but Arthur can collect a replacement suit from the many treasure chests which dot the landscape.

Armour upgrades come in Bronze and Gold forms. The first enhances the power of your weapons, while the second offers a special “charge” attack which comes in very handy during the game’s more intense moments. The Gold armour also offers a shield upgrade which will absorb one hit when you’re standing still — something which, in all honesty, reduces its actual usefulness.

You start the game with a lance projectile weapon, but other options are available throughout the adventure — each suited to a different style of play. To give two quite different examples, the knife is fast and direct while the flaming torch is thrown in an short arc, creating a wall of fire along whichever surface it touches. Depending on your preference, you’ll make a beeline for certain weapons and avoid others like the plague. Each one is imbued with different properties when in possession of the Bronze armour and produces the aforementioned unique “charge” attack when wearing the Gold suit.

Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts is notable for popularising the double-jump — during your initial leap, a second press of the jump button will fling Arthur into the air a second time, giving you the opportunity to cover larger distances and even switch direction. Taken on face value, this new ability might appear to reduce the challenge, as you cannot influence Arthur’s trajectory when he’s in the middle of a standard, "single" jump. However, the level designs are built with the double-jump very much in mind, which actually serves to make things even more stressful — you often have to achieve pixel-perfect timing twice in a leap, rather than just once.

The double-jump and Golden armour are two significant changes over the previous game in the series, but when it comes to Arthur’s talents, Capcom giveth and Capcom taketh away. The ability to shoot projectiles vertically has been removed entirely, which consequently makes tackling enemies on higher and lower platforms a fiendishly demanding affair. The level designs cruelly exploit our hero’s inability to attack up and down, placing threats in locations which require deft movement and perfectly timed weapon deployment. The introduction of randomly-spawning monsters only serves to dial up the toughness; the game seems to have an uncanny habit of warping a foe into a space which was entirely empty when you began your jump.

As you’ve probably gathered by now, Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts is a supremely difficult video game, constructed with the sole intent of making the player’s life a misery. It would be dishonest to suggest that this stern challenge doesn’t result in frustration — it was only the high cost of the Wii U GamePad that prevented us from hurling it at the nearest wall several times during the review process — but although it borders on being downright unfair at times, many of the deaths which occur are usually your fault. The knowledge that you made a mistake spurs you on to do better next time.

And there will most definitely be a next time; the fantastic level design, inventive enemies and gripping gameplay lock you in for hours, despite the fact that for a large portion of that time you’ll feel like you’re banging your head against a wall. Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts is a product of a company firing on all cylinders; the early ‘90s was arguably Capcom’s golden era and this release represents one of the firm’s finest domestic projects. The only genuine fault you can level at the game — aside from the almost vertical learning curve — is the abundance of slowdown. This was a shortcoming of the SNES hardware and is of course replicated faithfully in the Wii U Virtual Console release. In many ways it comes as a blessing — the additional time afforded gives you more chance to avoid hazards.

The Wii U Virtual Console release offers players the lifeline that is save states, which thankfully reduces the amount of controller-hurling incidents dramatically. However, purists will undoubtedly feel that it cheapens and dilutes the experience; knowing that you can simply rewind and reload a previous save when you make a mistake robs the game of the tension which made the SNES version so compelling and rewarding. The temptation is always there, but true fans will reserve save states purely for those times when they can’t finish the game in a single sitting, and not as a device for patching up their failures.

Conclusion

Judging from the stream of frustrated and bewildered posts on the Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts Miiverse community, newcomers to this legendary SNES title could well be put off by its almost superhuman challenge. However, giving up too early means missing out on one of the most accomplished platform adventures of the '90s. Although it’s devilishly difficult, Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts is also inventive, enthralling, gorgeous to look at and joy to listen to. A superb enhancement of the already brilliant Ghouls ‘n Ghosts, this is 16-bit gaming at its most unforgiving, but with each level completed and each boss defeated, you feel like you’re growing in stature as a player — and surely that’s something all video games should aspire to achieve.

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User Comments (45)

Moose_4

#1

Moose_4 said:

I will be buying this as it was great fun, and the new restore points will be a big bonus, even though it won't be completing it properly.

ajcismo

#2

ajcismo said:

Had this for the SNES back in the early college days. I think I played it for about 20 minutes, hurled the controller across the room, and sold it to a kid down the hall for $10.

Blue-Thunder

#3

Blue-Thunder said:

This game is hard by today's standards but it was also hard by the standard back in the SNES era.

DestinyMan

#4

DestinyMan said:

This is a classic, no doubt about that, and I still own the original SNES cart. It's super hard, but not as hard as Ghouls N' Goblins, so it's doable. The arrows are my favorite weapons and the blue flame is least favorite.

I'm actually pretty good at this game, and the only thing that really keeps me from properly beating the game is the amazingly devious Red Arremer. He has to be one of the most intelligent, cunning, and annoying enemies in video games! Otherwise, this game is a fun challenge and the graphics and music are impressive.

DazzaAdmin

#5

Dazza said:

Nice review @Damo - this is indeed a classic!

Back in the days, I got this on Japanese import and must admit I never found it too hard to complete. It just requires lots of practice and memorising what's coming up.

I must admit going back to this on Wii U VC after many many years, I found it to be a lot more challenging. While I do think using save states spoils the experience, it will be welcomed by many I am sure. Just use them sparingly folks!

They don't make em like this any more :)

ejamer

#7

ejamer said:

Ha! And Miiverse thought that Super Metroid was difficult! Can't wait to see the reactions this sadistic game draws out.

Super Ghouls 'n Ghosts is one of those rare games that, despite being terribly difficult, is very rewarding if you stick with it. Of course that doesn't mean you'll ever be able to finish the game...

Nintenjoe64

#8

Nintenjoe64 said:

This game cost me at least one 3rd party SNES controller back in the day. I never thought I'd get a chance to legitimately complete this game but now I don't have to finish it in one sitting I think I will. The only negative point I'd say is the "Professional" mode being too easy compared to "Normal" but that's just because there is nowhere for the difficulty to go. Level one also has the best music from any Capcom game and possibly SNES game.

Hordak

#9

Hordak said:

I played this game so religiously when I was in Middle School that I can still somehow manage to beat it without that much pain and suffering. Yes, I do complete it both times through and No, I don't use the save states.

WiiLovePeace

#11

WiiLovePeace said:

I may pick it up sometime, as a challenge. Its always fun to test my wits against a brick wall :p

SetupDisk

#12

SetupDisk said:

I beat the first time but the second time though I can't get through the last level with that weapon.

NImH

#13

NImH said:

Early 90's Capcom represents my golden years of gaming. The Mega Man series became X... Street Fighter 2 reigned supreme...
I spent many a Friday night with a buddy and a rental copy of Super Ghouls & Ghosts. We never beat it but we lost a lot of sleep! I'll mos def be picking this up ASAP.
Wasn't it called Super Ghosts & Goblins though? ...maybe I'm just tired...

XyVoX

#14

XyVoX said:

having completed many times the original Ghost & Goblins in the arcade way back in the 80's i then imported this from japan to play on my super famicom and managed to get to the last level several times, boy did this game wind me up alot back then, but that was half the fun to be fair because you just knew that if you knuckled down and concentrated you'd progress, i must say though that back as this was released as one of the first snes games it BLEW me away with it presentation and sound and those fancy mode 7 levels etc wow definitely one of my favourites.

MetalKingShield

#15

MetalKingShield said:

Excellent review. I've managed to complete all the levels once, so let's see if Restore Points allow me to complete it fully.

Deadstanley

#17

Deadstanley said:

Just finished it on the default settings without save-states last night (both illusion and real play throughs). Definitely tough, and I spent tons of lives/continues on Stages 6 and 7, but I do think this game is easier than NES Ghosts 'n Goblins, if anything because the controls are more polished.

TheAdrock

#23

TheAdrock said:

" it delights in repeatedly tripping you up and seemingly mocking your ineptitude — yet you keep coming back for more. That, ladies and gentlemen, is the hallmark of a classic video game."
Ain't that the TRUTH! Ahh.. the good ol' days. That's why I forced my children to start video gaming with only the classic NES and SNES games, vintage Sierra Online computer games, etc. Keep 'em sharp.

element187

#24

element187 said:

Uhm, no, this game is 1/10.... The difficulty makes it impossible. I remember renting this game for SNES when I was 11 or 12... I spent 6 hours trying to complete the first level without success before tossing it aside. I prefer difficult games, but there comes a point when its just dumb. Battletoads, while being super challenging, it wasn't so difficult to the point where you cannot pass the first level.

SparkOfSpirit

#25

SparkOfSpirit said:

This game is excellent. I must have spent almost an hour an just getting to the first boss and enjoyed every moment.

Kudos to Capcom. This is a classic.

Ryno

#26

Ryno said:

Such a beautiful game. Capcom really nailed it with all their SNES games. I have this cart but have never beat it. It will be nice to not have to play it in a single playthrough now. As the review said I wont use save states for patching up my failures though. :)

LavaTwilight

#28

LavaTwilight said:

I LOVED this game as a kid and I would love to get it again... I resisted the urge on the Wii VC but now that it's on the WiiU... I may just have to buckle. Who here wants to tip me over the edge?!? :)

Le_Gazman

#29

Le_Gazman said:

Not put off by the challenge, am put off by the price. I don't mind paying 4 times that for a physical cartridge because I know I've got that forever. Nintendo keep proving that you never really own a digital download and that's a shame.

brokenfang

#31

brokenfang said:

Rented this back in the day and promptly returned it the next day (luckily still in one piece). Lol. Grabbed it the other day on the eshop with Super Metroid for the nostalgia and have been playing it on the GP in bed.

Looks and sounds great, but hard as ever!

Nice review Dam.

ogo79

#33

ogo79 said:

i dont even wear underwear and youre gonna make me bring fresh ones?
this is ridiculous

Nomad

#34

Nomad said:

I've got this on SNES and WII VC, but will be getting the WII U version for play on the Gamepad. One of my top 10 SNES games.

Nomad

#35

Nomad said:

I have to say that I didn't really find this game that hard. Ultimate Ghosts n Goblins on the PSP however was quite difficult.

masterLEON

#36

masterLEON said:

This took me like 3 weekend rentals back in the day, that was a record for me! No complaints about the difficulty here!

MayhemStaff

#37

Mayhem said:

It's not that hard, I've beaten it a few times on one credit. Never one-lifed it mind you...

odd69

#38

odd69 said:

ive been a gamer since 1989 and I have never ever ever liked this game.

The_Fox

#39

The_Fox said:

Can't complain about the difficulty since that's one of the things the series is known for but the slowdown always bugged the crap out of me.

manu0

#40

manu0 said:

I never understood why even the very first jumps in this game require a double jump...

Williaint

#41

Williaint said:

If this is the game that I think it is, and I think it is, I would have have given it a generous 6. Blech.

Ras

#42

Ras said:

Until I watched one of those awesome Let's Compare videos on YouTube today, I didn't know this was a sequel to Ghouls 'n Ghosts. Back in the early '90s, I either didn't know about it at all or just assumed it was the SNES version of the Genesis game I already had.

I hate to hear about slowdown, but I'm going to have to buy it. I can always track down the PSP version that has the slowdown removed later.

globalisateur

#43

globalisateur said:

@Nomad I am with you on that one. Compared to Ultimate ghost and goblins on PSP, the one on SNES version is a piece of cake!
But still, even a "piece of cake" may be difficult.

unrandomsam

#45

unrandomsam said:

I don't think this is anywhere near as difficult as the arcade ghosts and goblins on wii vc arcade.

(Loads harder than the NES one because the enemies spawn far more unpredictably.)

I won't be buying it until there is a version with the slowdown fixed.

I played the 50hz version of this on SNES which obviously was significantly easier. Not sure I ever finished the second run through.

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