It was only February this year that Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection released exclusively on Nintendo Switch. And while it was tough, perhaps unfairly so at times, it also had a lot of charm.
A modern reboot of Capcom’s Ghost ‘n Goblins series, the good news is that Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection is now available to a much bigger audience. Whether you own a PlayStation or Xbox console, or game on your PC, you can now also take control of honourable knight Arthur on his quest to both save the princess and restore peace to his land. If you’ve got the skills and patience for it, you’ll probably love doing so, too.
Arthur’s adventure takes him through five arduous stages, absolutely chock-full of enemies out to end his campaign against their dark lord. The first two of which are chosen by you, with the rest being set in stone. Each stage packs a lot of scenery in, however, making them feel like epic adventures in their own right. And while the crux of the gameplay remains the same – move from left to right while either avoiding enemies or thwarting them with a range of weapons and magic spells – there are some curveballs thrown into the mix to keep things interesting.
Being a modern game, there are a number of features that make Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection more palatable than its predecessors. There are multiple difficulty levels, for example, including one that gives you infinite lives and allows you to continue exactly where you left off when you die. Your progress is also saved as you make your way through the game – you don’t have to start at the beginning every time. And that’s not all; a magical metronome allows players to slow down the speed of the game if they wish, while on certain difficulties there are additional checkpoints in place to help players push through.
Outside of new features that make Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection more accessible to all skill levels, Arthur has some weapons at his disposal should he come across them – a mighty hammer that he can thwack enemies with, and a spiked ball that rolls along floor. There’s even an upgrade system of sorts. As you make your way through each level, little spritely spirits often appear. If you’re quick enough to catch them, they can then be exchanged for a range of spells and passive abilities when back on the stage select screen. From allowing Arthur to unleash bolts of lightning in all four directions, to making his next attack after being stripped down to his pants do additional damage, they all come in very useful.
Despite all of the new features, however, Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection remains a simple game that stays true to its arcade roots. Mechanically little has changed; Arthur moves quite slow, has to commit when jumping, and can’t even throw whatever weapon he’s wielding diagonally. Combined with fiendish stage design, you’ll curse at him at times – probably when trying to navigate moving platforms while flying creatures threaten to knock you back into an abyss. Some games are tough, but Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection occasionally feels cruel – like it revels in your misfortune. It’s got so much charm, however, that you can’t help but push on.
Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection‘s visuals win you over from the outset, even more so now that they have the capacity to be sharper than they were on Switch. Every screen is packed with detail and texture, while enemy designs are simply exceptional. There’s an element of playful humour to them too – the monsters you’re up against want to hurt you, sure, but they look like they’re having fun while they’re at it. And as previously mentioned, Arthur is periodically stripped down to his undies as he sustains damage – it’s a touch that’s just as amusing now as it was over 30 years ago. The icing on the cake is a wonderfully retro soundtrack that gets stuck in your head whether you like it or not.
Aside from the difficulty often feeling unfair and Arthur being set in his ways, perhaps the only real complaint that can be levied at Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection is that it locks players who rely on its easiest difficulty mode out of accessing certain content. Shadow variants of each level are available for those skilled enough to unlock them, and they’re key to witnessing the game’s true ending. Needless to say, some will likely never see it. The amount of help available means that many might be spurred on to push themselves, however.
There’s local co-op to factor into the equation too. A second player can jump into the action and assist Arthur on his adventure. Three spirits are available to the second player, each with their own attack and special ability, and the shoulder buttons can be used to switch between them during gameplay. Used effectively, they can make the game much easier. Archie, for example, can build bridges, making it easier for Arthur to cross gaps, while Kerry can pick up Arthur and carry him through the air. And then there’s Barry, who can create barriers that offer protection. Needless to say, playing in co-op adds another element to the gameplay, and also makes some of the toughest sections more manageable.
Content-wise, Ghosts n’ Goblins Resurrection is exactly the same on all formats – nothing new has been added since its original Switch release. Playing the PS4 version (on a PS5) made me appreciate the experience it provides more, however, thanks to sharper visuals and what feels to me like more responsive controls. The high level of difficulty means that it’s unlikely to be everyone’s cup of tea, and it’s a shame that its easiest mode locks players out of a great deal of content, but there’s no denying that a valiant attempt has been made to make it more accessible. And what’s really surprising is that it also offers a surprisingly novel local co-op experience.
Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection PS4 Review: GameSpew’s Score