Wednesday, December 28, 2005

NES Review: Ghosts'N Goblins

One of the best things about reviewing old school NES carts is the time I get to spend with so many classic games. Now, the good majority of you probably wouldn't call these "classics" if you define a classic as a franchise that survived into the modern console age. But to us Gen-Xers, the original NES was our altar, and our rewards were side-scrolling action titles that we spent endless hours playing, trying in vain (mostly) to reach the end and save the damsel/princess/weird mushroom dude. Ghosts'N Goblins (and it's 'sequel/remake' Ghouls'N Ghosts) is one of those uberclassics. JC will back me up on that one...Here's the deal: Christian wingnuts (not regular Christians, you guys are cool) leave now, because this game deals with Satan. But in a fictional sense, so there's no need to tweak out. Besides. He's the guy you're trying to best at the end of the map there, so you can honestly say you're doing "God's work" if you're hard-up for a positive message.

At any rate, you're hanging out in your loin cloth with your hottie-bo-bottie, when out of nowhere, The Man Downstairs shows up and snatches her straight from your picnicing bliss. Obviously, you're jacked, because hey: Beelzebubbabutt just stole your woman! If the great Evil wants honey-girl, she must be worth it, right? Right. So, into your armor you jump, and off you go to fight your way to and through the underworld to do battle with Lucy Furr.

But that's no easy task, let me tell you. Your little Arthur dude can only take two hits before biting thine bullet. One hit pops you into your skivvies until you find yourself another tin suit to keep you modest. Thankfully, this knight of the triangle drawz has an array of weapons at his disposal to ward off the Minions of Satan (TM). You start off with what amounts to a lance of holy tossing and destruction, but can pick up knives, torches, and more. The torches are rather nifty when baddies come-a-runnin', since it flares up for a second or two after hitting the ground. Mindless Zombies become Kamikombies and walk right into a firey gateway, ensuring their one-way return trip back to Heck is, in fact, in a flaming Handbasket of Doom (R).

But Zombies aren't Lu's only weapon. He's got hairball-spewing plants, annoying little devil critters that swoop about and cause general havoc, and bosses at the end of each of the five enormous, increasingly difficult levels. I'm serious. You have to be a pro to get anywhere in this game. n00bs will spend the first two days just trying to get beyond level two at best, ensuring the frustration which often drives marathon gaming sessions. That and the combination of Jolt and Doritos.

In the end, if you can best the Worst of the Worst, you rescue the girl (obviously the hottest woman in the world if Satan's after that booty) and live happily ever after. That is, until you restart the game and she gets Bogarted again. All in all though, G'NG remains one of my all-time favorite games, and deserves to be dusted off every once in a while, if only to whoop the forces of darkness in your medieval boxer shorts...

Ghosts'N Goblins - NES - Arcade Port

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