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Super Ghouls 'n Ghosts

by Neal Ronaghan - May 30, 2013, 12:14 pm PDT
Total comments: 15

6

Double jump your way through hell in your underwear.

Super Ghouls‘n Ghosts is a brutal, cruel game. While the Super Nintendo release, in my eyes, is easily the best in the series not starring a gargoyle, it is still a grueling experience that demands nothing short of perfection from the player. That doesn’t make it a game I’d recommend to every player, as even my trip down memory lane in the Wii U Virtual Console release was painful and arduous.

To even triumph past the first level, you need to learn the game’s language and rules, and never ever forget them. Playing as the knight Arthur, you can only withstand two hits before you perish into a bag of bones. Jumping is outrageously unforgiving; you can double jump, but your only control over the jump is to change directions at the very start. You know how in Mario or Mega Man games you can fine-tune your jump so you avoid an enemy or chasm? Ghouls’n Ghosts isn’t nearly that kind. You can upgrade your armor, get new weapons, and wield magic, but the chief way to get these upgrades is by finding hidden treasure chests, which can only be revealed by passing over certain areas in the levels.

If you can deal with the often obtuse challenge, Super Ghouls’n Ghosts is worth it. While having to play through the game a second time to technically beat the game is mean, it is truly rewarding to learn the game’s mechanics and secrets, and then triumph past the hair-pulling level you’ve been struggling with for a long time. You just have to have the patience and determination of a saint to actually do it.

Summary

Pros
  • Rewarding difficulty
Cons
  • Brutally challenging
  • Dastardly jumping restrictions
  • You have to beat the damn thing twice

Talkback

Art_de_CatMay 30, 2013

This was my third snes game way back when.  It was challenging as all heck, but the beautiful levels made up for it.  The ship/raft level was awesome to go through.  I think the return trip fetch was absolute bs, but thats a different topic.

I enjoyed the one time I played through this game twice as a rewarding challenge, but damn, if going through it for this review wasn't, as NWR's Justin Baker (Bluelander) put it, a "wartime flashback."

There are qualities about this game that are commendable, but too much of it relies on asshole-grade mechanics.

Ian SaneMay 30, 2013

I have a pretty damn good SNES game collection but oddly enough this is not in it.  To me it seems like an essential addition but it isn't that hard to find so I keep putting it off in favour of other titles.  I won't lie - this series is so hard that I figure I'll never enjoy the game so there is is less incentive to secure a copy.  Ditto with Ghosts 'n Goblins on the NES which I figure will be a mandatory entry in my NES collection but I also put off buying.

I do have Ghouls 'n Ghosts for the Genesis.  My brother and I play with the invincibility cheat on and it is still ridiculously hard from the platforming alone.  It's actually kind of fun in a weird way.  The game is so absurdly hard that it's kind of humorous.  You have to see it as some Robotron style game where you can't win, you just have to see how long you survive, though this doesn't fit a narrative game that well.  The Genesis game not only has an invinsibility code but also level select codes.  They seem almost mandatory and I don't know if the SNES game has similar codes.

A lot of old games are stupidly hard but this is still regarded as a classic.  I think it's because it is intentionally hard.  You play the game with the intention that it will punish you.  A lot of hard old games are really hard because the game SUCKS and has terrible level design and controls.  This series consists of sublimely designed games for experts.

smallsharkbigbiteMay 31, 2013

I have it for the SNES.  This game is hard, but I still feel it's rewarding.  You can get to level 4 and have fun without beating it.  I still get enjoyment from games like this that I can't beat.  This game is a game that adds a lot from save states on the Wii U.  I was very close to beating this game at one point and I'm not a great gamer so it is obtainable.  I'll have to give it a go sometime.

LudicrousDa3veMay 31, 2013

SGnG is incredibly hard, but it isn't cheap. You learn the rules of the game, you adapt, and you work from there. It's a very well designed game, though; it isn't just like beating yourself in the junk with a mallet. Just gotta put some work into it to experience all the good stuff.  :cool;

ejamerMay 31, 2013

Quote from: LudicrousDa3ve

SGnG is incredibly hard, but it isn't cheap. ...

Not sure I can agree on this point.  There are some spots where death is basically unavoidable the first time you get there, just because the design intentionally screws with you.  After you see what's coming you can figure out how to survive, but there are some moments of intentional trolling that can be incredibly hard to see coming when playing through the game.

For example, which G'nG game was it that had the floating platform in stage 1 that would go back and forth across a pit, but every once in a while is stops half-way and changes direction? You can time the jump without much difficulty if you know that's a possible behavior, but I think default timing was to only show the "trick" after you've jumped if running through the stage the first time.  If that's not cheap, I don't know what is.

However, the entire series still manages to be very enjoyable because it's attractive and well-made, and the trolling is blatantly intentional, and (most importantly) you can make steady progress as you learn the tricks and challenges in each level. Don't mistake this criticism to mean that I don't have fun every time I play.

I'd go with the comparison to learning a foreign language. If you study hard, the language makes sense and you can read it and understand it. If you don't? Well, you're doomed unless you're a savant.

LudicrousDa3veJune 02, 2013

Quote from: ejamer

Quote from: LudicrousDa3ve

SGnG is incredibly hard, but it isn't cheap. ...

Not sure I can agree on this point.  There are some spots where death is basically unavoidable the first time you get there, just because the design intentionally screws with you.  After you see what's coming you can figure out how to survive, but there are some moments of intentional trolling that can be incredibly hard to see coming when playing through the game.

For example, which G'nG game was it that had the floating platform in stage 1 that would go back and forth across a pit, but every once in a while is stops half-way and changes direction? You can time the jump without much difficulty if you know that's a possible behavior, but I think default timing was to only show the "trick" after you've jumped if running through the stage the first time.  If that's not cheap, I don't know what is.

However, the entire series still manages to be very enjoyable because it's attractive and well-made, and the trolling is blatantly intentional, and (most importantly) you can make steady progress as you learn the tricks and challenges in each level. Don't mistake this criticism to mean that I don't have fun every time I play.

  I can agree with you on the trial and error bit. :) I think perhaps my angle is I cut my teeth on 2d platformers, and anticipate really well? They give me less trouble in general than more modern designs.

    Neal, you phrased that perfectly.

I love this game, but I'm gonna have to wait for a sale before I consider re-buying and beating it (again).  I'm trying to get out of the habit of playing the same games over and over...

Pixelated PixiesJune 03, 2013

I guess we all have different thresholds for what we consider 'difficult'. I certainly wouldn't call this game easy, but it's difficulty comes from it's level design which, in my opinion, is on the whole fair. I never found it to be frustrating, which helps immensely when you're trying to enjoy something.

It is games like La Mulana or the original Metroid which I personally find to be difficult. With platformers like G 'n' G's it's always a question of execution and in that sense they're not so dissimilar from rhythm games. Games which are obtuse on the other hand drive me crazy and I rarely see them through to the end.

To take a utilitarian standpoint, a video game is only ever 'too difficult' if it's challenge is not proportionate to the amount of enjoyment it gives, and for me Super G 'n' G is very enjoyable.

CericJune 03, 2013

I would not use the term "Fair" in regards to the level design.  The first level has a place where a wave comes and washes away the land.  With no indication that the land is really any different.

Pixelated PixiesJune 03, 2013

Quote from: Ceric

I would not use the term "Fair" in regards to the level design.  The first level has a place where a wave comes and washes away the land.  With no indication that the land is really any different.


You live and you learn. I actually think that section in the first level was trying to teach you something about the game; I think the intention was to impart to the player the notion that sometimes it's better to hang back rather than rush in. It also forces you to actually analyse the topography of the level, which actually becomes very important later in the game.

CericJune 03, 2013

Quote from: Pixelated

Quote from: Ceric

I would not use the term "Fair" in regards to the level design.  The first level has a place where a wave comes and washes away the land.  With no indication that the land is really any different.


You live and you learn. I actually think that section in the first level was trying to teach you something about the game; I think the intention was to impart to the player the notion that sometimes it's better to hang back rather than rush in. It also forces you to actually analyse the topography of the level, which actually becomes very important later in the game.

The problem with that is where you would hang back is also one of the places that get washed away >

I'm kind of in the middle of this game. I think my review says as much.

I understand people who hate it because it's frustrating. Yes, there is some sense of a "secret truth" of this game being very well designed, but everyone who writes this game off for being weird and really hard isn't incorrect, because it is weird and really hard. It might be fair when you understand it, but Mario Kart with blue shells can be fair when you understand it.

Super GnG is filled with "gotcha!" moments where enemies appear where you casually walk, or a wave washes you away. The concept of the treasure chests can only be divined by either having a FAQ in hand or scouring all over the levels.

Pixelated PixiesJune 03, 2013

Quote from: Ceric

The problem with that is where you would hang back is also one of the places that get washed away ><


HA!

Don't you just love it?  ;D

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Genre Action
Developer Capcom
Players1

Worldwide Releases

na: Super Ghouls 'n Ghosts
Release May 16, 2013
PublisherCapcom
RatingEveryone
jpn: Chō Makai Mura
Release Apr 27, 2013
PublisherCapcom
RatingAll Ages
eu: Super Ghouls 'n Ghosts
Release May 16, 2013
PublisherCapcom
Rating7+
aus: Super Ghouls 'n Ghosts
Release May 16, 2013
PublisherCapcom
RatingParental Guidance
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